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Black Friday, Email Marketing and GMail's New Inbox

It's Saturday, the day after Black Friday, and my inbox is loaded with promotions about expiring offers, extended sales, and upcoming Cyber Monday. It reminded me that this shopping holiday relies heavily on email, GMail's new format now has a very significant impact, and that I had written an unpublished, related blog post about the subject early in November... Here it is! email promotion

Much has been made about the new Gmail interface and it's implications on email delivery / readership. Gmail now organizes emails algorithmically (Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates). This effectively filters emails from brands and commerce providers into sub-folders like Promotions and Updates. And while it is consumer friendly (I much prefer it) - it has significant implications for on commercial providers.

There are some good pieces about those effects - including from MailChimp who claims that open rates across their network drooped from 13% to 12%. Litmus did a similar study and noted a 7.75% decrease in Gmail open rates.

Perhaps that is why Bonobos sent the following email over the weekend. Instead of merchandising new products or a sale - the emails's primary (and only!) purpose is to have recipients move Bonobos into the Primary inbox.

Not only is that savvy - it is proof of how important email is to merchants... and how important these interface changes can be.


Bonobos Adds a Clever Twist to Viral Contest, Sharing.

Bonobos is currently running a viral giveaway on Facebook: Win a Wardrobe. Giveaways on Facebook aren't unique - they are great ways to drive Facebook fans, sharing and awareness. But what is unique is the viral hook that Bonobos is using:

"The more you share, the more chances you have to win."

That too isn't unique - usually contests give extra weight for the number of shares, referrals, etc. Bonobos is doing it differently though - and its very clever:

If one of your friends wins, you win the same prize. That's different and very cool. If the prize is enticing enough, its a more interesting way to incent referrals and sharing.

Bonobos + Fab Looks More Like Groupon than Gilt.

I find this example so interesting: two fast-growing e-commerce brands working together to solve one another's needs: Bonobos delivers heavily discounted product to Fab, who delivers a user acquisition channel. From afar, I believe example is more similar to how merchants use Groupon / Living Social than how they use Gilt Group: it is more about attracting new buyers than it is for dumping inventory efficiently: