Why Marketers Shouldn't Panic About Email Filters - At Least Not Yet
Email filtering is a hot topic right now. And it's not hard to understand why. We spend more time reading and sending emails than we do at almost anything else. How much time? The average person spends a mindboggling 28% of work time reading and responding to emails. No wonder we always feel like we can't get enough done.
The latest big headline comes from The New York Times, which recently ran an article about retailers who are freaking out about Gmail's new folder for promotional emails. The new feature automatically filters most branded emails into a separate folder but also places a "Promotions" tab atop the main in-box so that the quarantined emails are only a click away.
According to The Times, some companies, including Gap and Groupon, have been "begging" customers to move their promotional emails back into their primary in-boxes. And it's easy to understand why many marketers are so concerned. As The Times piece also notes, email marketing is still a central part of most online campaigns. In fact, a July 2013 study by Forrester Research and Shop.org found that some 80 percent of marketers will spend more on e-mail this year than they did in 2012.
The good news for retailers: there's no reason to panic -- at least not about Gmail. The new Gmail features have only pushed down the rate at which consumers open e-commerce e-mails by a measly one percent.
And from what I've seen at our company, Sanebox, a sophisticated filtering system can sometimes benefit marketers. After all, marketers are already fighting for attention through a sea of noise. When non-urgent emails, such as promotions from brands, are placed into a separate folder, marketers can reach the audiences they're targeting when they're in the mindset to review promotions.
At Sanebox, we try to go a bit beyond Google's basic filtering and provide a digest of all unimportant emails. It can be a bit like flipping through a catalog - something you want to do periodically, but not every five minutes. On the other hand, marketers need to continue being relevant, especially since some companies allow customers to unsubscribe from anything with one click (OtherInbox's Unsubscriber, Unroll.me, and our on BlackHole feature).
So, no, now is not the time for retailers to panic. But as more and more consumers look for solutions to the problem of email overload, that time may soon come.
This guest article was written by Dmitri Leonov, VP of Growth at email management firm Sanebox.