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Email Marketing

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holiday relies heavily on email, GMail's new format now has a very significant impact, and that I had written an unpublished, related blog post about the subject early in November...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.


Twitter's Great "Some People You May Know" Email

I have written glowingly about Quora and Twitter's weekly digest emails. Well here is another good one from Twitter that is beautifully put together: "Ryan Spoon, we found some people you may know". I love how it shares the same format as the "What's happening on Twitter" digest - and I love how it's very visual, beautifully branded, and actionable: big follow buttons. E-commerce companies have long been reliant on email to drive all stages of the funnel: user acquisition, user activation and user activity. For non-transactional companies, I believe email can be equally vital and - in some cases - more compelling for consumers precisely because it is not commercial. The trick of course is to make it relevant, timely and appropriate (content + frequency).

Pinterest's Clear Friendship Emails

I am sure other companies do this as well... but since the email arrived from Pinterest and caught my attention, I will credit Pinterest here and realize other examples will be forwarded my way! Many socially-enabled sites (ie Facebook Connect, Twitter Oauth) send notifications when friends join the service. Sometimes those friends are not connected with you on the new service - but the notification is done to spark the connection. And in other cases, the connection is automatically forged (ie Quora - which was helpful with early virality). Depending on the relationship, language, etc - both can be confusing to new users. I give Pinterest credit with the below example because it very clearly defines a relationship: a "Facebook Friend" has joined Pinterest. That may seem like a minor point - but it is much clearer than directly creating an on-Pinterest friendship and/or only using his name.

I get daily emails from services alerting me of new friends, followers, etc. This is a very minor way to add context and clarity.