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Email Marketing

What Email Marketers MUST Know about Inbox by Gmail

Email On Acid

Gmail is constantly evolving the landscape of email by changing up marketer’s inbox placement with the promotions tab and implementing the fear-inducing auto-unsubscribe. All the new Google changes have left email marketers, designers and developers on a roller coaster of emotions, bracing themselves for the next big update. Well folks, it’s here, and its name is Inbox.

It’s like Gmail on crack!

Inbox, aka “Gmail Inbox” or “Inbox by Gmail”, is pretty much the current tabbed version of Gmail on crack. Inbox is an entirely new email app that is not Gmail… but was designed by Gmail and is branded as “the inbox that works for you” (we’ll be the judge of that!).

Right now, access to Inbox is by invitation only, so if you want a first-hand look at its collaborative features get an invitation here. In the meantime, let’s take a peek behind the curtain and see what new features Inbox has to offer!

Bundles

Ever wanted to go just one place for all your electronic purchases and receipts? Well Inbox automatically organizes – or bundles – certain types of emails together so sanity can be restored to your inbox.

The bundles feature expands on the “Categories” Gmail introduced last year, making it a breeze to deal with similar emails all in one spot.

With your newly bundled emails you can accomplish the following features on the fly:

  • Move emails in and out of labels
  • Create your own custom labels
  • Choose when you want to see them in your inbox (hourly, daily, weekly, etc.)
  • Turn off bundling so messages show up individually instead

Highlights

With Inbox’s “highlights” feature, you don’t even need to open your email! You can get all the important information from your email with a single glance. Highlights and bundles work in unison so you can get the key information in your emails such as flight updates, photos, videos or documents from within your email. Check out the screen cap below to see how your inbox is more visual than ever before.

Reminders, Assists and Snooze

Inbox is like your very own personal assistant that fits right in your pocket. Who needs a secretary when Inbox will allow you to create “reminders”? Whether it’s about an important meeting or just to pick up some dog food, Inbox will ensure you don’t drop the ball in your personal or professional life.

Assists” are also incorporated into the reminders so you can mark reminders off your to-do list. For example, if you needed to pick up some dog food like I mentioned, the “assist” can provide you with the phone number and location of the pet store you want to swing by. Plus, if a reminder pops up and you need to address it a little later, just hit the “snooze” button and your Inbox will ensure your emails and reminders pop up at a more convenient time.

You can also organize emails with quick actions, such as swiping the screen to the right to archive a message, or swiping left so you can deal with an email later (Tinder, anyone?). Starring your email is now a thing of the past as Inbox allows you to “pin” your email to the top of your inbox as a reminder. Plus, you can leverage bulk actions like archiving, snoozing or deleting emails en masse, just by holding down your finger on the screen.

Other things to keep in mind about Inbox is that when you design your email for this layout your company’s Google + profile picture will be pulled into the sender image. Inbox also follows in its creator’s footsteps by downloading images automatically. That means your gorgeous graphic designs will always be visible in Inbox.

Inbox Still Ignores Media Queries

Even though Inbox is taking the prize for the most innovative way yet to interact with our email, it still is lacking a critical element that makes email great for mobile users: Responsive Design! Inbox doesn't recognize media queries and therefore can't render responsive email designs.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as Inbox, though a separate entity from Gmail, is still very much intertwined with the Gmail rendering engine. We’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope Gmail starts to allow media queries soon!

Is Inbox “The End” for Email Marketers?

While it’s early in the game to say if this is going to disrupt the email ecosystem, Google has really raised the bar for email marketers when it comes to crafting relevant email. With the Bundles features in Inbox, it’s easier than ever for subscribers to ignore emails that are not relevant them. On the bright side, bundles will also make it easier than ever for subscribers to pay attention to the emails they want to. That is why email marketers must adapt (or hopefully already have adapted) to the strategy of ALWAYS sending emails that will benefit the end user.

Though sensationalized as an e-pocalypse, Gmail Tabs was not the end for email marketers, and Inbox won’t be either. However, these advances from Gmail create a Darwinian environment for email marketers. The marketers that will thrive are those that adapt every email to be beneficial and relevant to their subscribers. The marketers that keep blasting out random, un-personalized, un-segmented emails to the masses will quickly go extinct.

The enhanced organization that the Bundle feature creates for its consumers can also help email marketers thrive. Think of it this way: with Bundle the reader already knows what kind of messaging they are about to read, putting the reader in the right mindset for a marketing pitch. For example, your reader won’t be blindsided or offended if they are in their promos bundle and an email tries to sell them something. In fact, they’ll be expecting a pitch… as they are literally in a bundle for promotions. Context is everything and Inbox will help consumers have the proper context for every email interaction.

Bundles, Highlights, pins, and the other features of Inbox should be a wake-up call for the email marketers out there to adapt their messaging to speak to an individual, not a crowd. If marketers can harness the proper analytics like geolocation and engagement reporting, they can address their consumers on personal basis and make Inbox their friend and not their foe.

Want to try Inbox?

Inbox is not available everywhere… yet! As it is still in the “invite only” stage, the email app is available in Google for Android, iOS and Google’s Chrome browser. If you do decide to jump in and take their visual inbox for a spin, all your emails within your current Gmail account will automatically show up in Inbox. Take a more in-depth gander about the Inbox layout here.  But hang on a sec, peeps. Before you ditch Gmail for good, let me just say that it’s rumored Gmail will get an Inbox-like interface too!

It seems Inbox is all about mobile viewers and creating organization in a very cluttered and unorganized world. Do you think Inbox is the future of email marketing? Try the app for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments section below.


About the Author

Mallory Mongeon

Mallory Mongeon

Mallory hails from Minnesota and earned her bachelor's degree in corporate communications from Elon University. The voice behind our email campaigns and social media channels, Mallory uses her background in research- and metrics-driven marketing strategies to inform her blogs on the non-technical aspects of email marketing.

Join the Discussion

Bummer that Inbox does not support @media query at this time. It just doesn't make sense to me that this is a mobile-first app but lacks @media support. Do you know if it supports css within the head tag? If so, at least we'd be using less inline styles.
AJ
AJ, unfortunately I do not know if Inbox by Gmail supports CSS within the head tag. Definitely something we'll have to test out at EOA smile
Mallory Mongeon
Hi Mallory,
Thanks very much for the run-down.

Do you know if pre-headers will still be visible in Inbox (to those for which it was visible before)? I can't find an example from my own emails to check it out. smile

Thanks!
Kelly Samojlik
Hey Kelly,

Great question! Inbox displays one line of preheader text next to the subject line, just like Gmail. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Mallory Mongeon
When it comes to supporting CSS (within the head tag) and media queries Inbox and Gmail do not differ. Status Quo on that but I heard from the Inbox product team at Google that supporting media queries in on the roadmap for 2015... That would be fantastic!
Eric Lepetit
Hey Eric, I think you're referring to this?

https://litmus.com/blog/episode-5-gmail-vows-to-support-css-and-a-surprisingly-progressive-microsoft

I haven't read/listened to it yet but plan to soon. BTW, not sure why your name sounds familiar. Are you also an email dev. blogger?
AJ
Thx Mallory! I'm glad to hear that. smile
Kelly Samojlik
Great article Mallory! Very informative. Having been an email marketer for over 15 years, it always disturbs me when the Gmail's of the world try to "automatically" decide what emails the users "want to see" or "don't" want to see. Much like Facebook filtering posts with their new algorithm, all these things do make it increasingly difficult for legitimate businesses to connect with their customers or email newsletter subscribers. Gosh... we even have a hard time getting plain, old Order Confirmations through to a lot of Gmail people. Well, if the Gmail users like this new system, I guess it will stick around. But we are hoping Google will back off on this one!
poolandspamoose
Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u.
orderplz

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