[UPDATE: I discovered that how Google is determining what goes into the “Promotions & Offers” tab are emails that include CAN-SPAM regulated unsubscribe links. Well, that’s pretty much every dealership in the universe.]
As you may or may not know, Google introduced a new feature to their web-based Gmail interface. Tabs. It’s like a non-spam spam filter. This is what it looks like:
- Primary: According to Google, the e-mail that you “really, really want” goes there.
- Social: This is where Google is going to deliver e-mails from social sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. You know, all of those notifications.
- Promotions & Offers: This is where all the e-mails from retailers advertising goes. You know those “sale” e-mails, coupons, etc. (I bet you can’t guess what else will go here.)
- Updates: According to Google, this is where “updates, bills and receipts” will go.
What does that mean for dealerships and e-mail marketing?
Dealerships are constantly fighting spam filters already whether that’s through their own e-mail provider, through their CRM’s email, or through any email marketing they do via a third party.
I’ve had access to this for a bit and I’m on a few dealerships e-mail lists and I’ve noticed that every e-mail from a dealership – whether its sent to me as an individual or as a mass e-mailing – has gone into the “Promotions and Offers” tab. The only exceptions have been e-mails from people that are in my contacts within Gmail.
Now, it appears, in addition to fighting the dreaded “Spam” folder, you get to fight against the non-spam spam tab named “Promotions and Offers”. Gmail will default to open to the “Primary” tab whether you’re logging in on the web or through the Gmail app on your smartphone. I’ve had a certain e-mail address for almost 20 years and I get TONS of solicitations from companies I’ve signed up with or bought something from over the years as do many of you, I’m sure.
Now, your dealership’s e-mails may get thrown into that big pile of “junk mail” in the “Offers and Promotions” tab.
It’s too soon to tell just how much impact this will have on e-mail marketing in general. Experts, such as DJ Waldow, think open rates will drop but click-through rates will increase. That may, or may not, be a good thing but the simple fact that Google is filtering e-mail for consumers based on what category it believes any particular email belongs in is disturbing to many companies who are sending out proactive emails to their customers with instructions on how to turn tabs off.
It’s time to be vigilant as a dealership if you are using a third-party e-mail marketer. Start reading the delivery reports you may not be and comparing them to older ones. Same goes for your CRM company and e-mail provider. Are your messages being delivered?
For an Internet Department or BDC, it’s already frustrating enough to do constant follow-up with a customer and get no response. Add to that frustration the discovery that the customer didn’t get your e-mail because it was in their “spam” folder. Now, you can add one more “frustration” – did it go into their “Promotions and Offers” tabbed folder.
So keep in mind, if your customer is telling you that they didn’t get your e-mail, you should now not only ask them to check their “spam” folder, but also their “promotions and offers” folder if they use Gmail.
[Edit: As an example of a potential issue: I just booked a room through Hyatt. I “thought” I didn’t receive the confirmation e-mail since it wasn’t delivered to my e-mail client (I happen to use Apple Mail). However, having just written this article, I thought to check Gmail directly through the web and, lo and behold, there was my e-mail confirmation, right inside the “Promotions” tab. It was never delivered to my e-mail client, however, and that is where I read, and receive, most of my e-mails. If you’re trying to communicate with a client as an Internet Salesperson, this could certainly pose an issue as it appears that, at least in the case of Apple Mail, the e-mails are stuck in the folder and not being delivered to the inbox of the e-mail client. Many people have Gmail and not everyone uses the internet to view their e-mail. There are quite a few mail clients out there – both desktop and mobile based (Outlook, anyone?) so if the mail never gets to the customer ’cause it’s stuck in one tab or another, that’s a bad, bad thing.]