Next takes on Google in the battle for your inbox
A few months ago a funny thing happened to my inbox – Google redesigned it. I wasn’t expecting it but actually when I got used to it, I quite liked it. If you’re not a Gmail user you probably won’t have seen it but it looks something like this:
(Note the 3 tabs across the top)
It’s quite a radical change and it’s what you might call a ‘game-changer’ in terms of the user experience. To me it shows just how much power Google wields in the land of the Internet – if they decide that email needs to work differently (and I’m not entirely sure of their motives) then they redesign it.
I hadn’t really thought much of it and then on Friday afternoon my Inbox looked like this:
(I use an iPhone to read my emails most of the time by the way)
What caught my eye was the email from Next. Initially I was confused – why were Next contacting me about my Gmail settings? The then penny began to drop. I was meant to be reading this inside Gmail, then it would have made much more sense.
So far, so interesting, so I decided I’d have to open it to see what it meant:
…then I realised what was happening. Like other email marketers I presume that Next have been seeing quite a marked drop-off in their open rates because of the changes that Google have made to Gmail. So this is their response. The question is: are Next customers who use Gmail savvy enough to see this for what it is – an attempt to get their marketing emails back into your Inbox by asking you to change your settings?
There may be other brands who have tried this and I’d be interested to know how successful they’ve been.
I think one of the most interesting aspects of this is the timing. We’re in the run up to Christmas and retailers are indulging in what can only be described as ‘carpet bombing’ email marketing.
Part of the reason why the Next email intrigued and upset me as a consumer is the sheer volume of emails they send (probably 2 or 3 a week) and the lack of relevance a lot of them have. I really think that to retain the ‘hearts and minds’ of your customers you need to do something cleverer than simply email your customers a lot.
So the question is: in the ongoing battle for your attention (and more importantly £s) will it be Google or someone else who wins?
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