Report: Gmail’s Dominance Having Powerful Effect on Email Marketing

By / Dec 11, 2017 (yorkfoto/iStock Unlicensed/Getty Images Plus)

A new report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing points out that Gmail has grown massively in recent years, and that means that email marketers need to pay extra special attention to its myriad features.

Over the years, email marketing has grown from a modest part of the messaging pie to a dominant one. And likewise, one email client has come to define that experience for many: Google’s Gmail client.

The Gmail Effect, a new report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing [registration], highlights the way that the email provider, which is closely integrated with the Android operating system, has come to dominate the process of sending and receiving messages.

Case in point: According to the marketing firm’s research, around 17.3 percent of email users had a Gmail account in 2014, putting it behind Yahoo as the largest email provider. Now, it represents 29.6 percent of all email users, while its competitors have all reported modest declines in the years since. Additionally, while more than 40 percent of users were likely to use a non-webmail email client in 2014, that number has now fallen to 34.1 percent—a significant decrease in the past three years.

And those users, per Yes’ findings, are far more likely to opt in to an email through Gmail than its competitors. Of those users that have opted in within the last 90 days, per the firm’s analysis, 48.9 percent used Gmail, far outpacing every other kind of email client. The trend is growing, as well; of those who opted in over a year ago, the number who used Gmail was 26.6 percent.

And of the users who are active readers of an email, 39.5 percent of them are Gmail users, far above any other service.

“While the share of the ‘big four’ has increased since 2014, this is driven exclusively by the growth of Gmail,” the report states. “Individually, the subscriber share of each of the other top four ISPs has shrunk or remained stagnant since 2014.”

The dominance of Gmail has been something of an Achilles’ heel for email marketers in the past, due to the web-based client and its mobile versions lacking certain technical capabilities that competitors like the iOS-based Apple Mail were able to take advantage of years ago. Things changed last year, however, when Google expanded its capabilities for cascading style sheets (CSS), allowing for responsive design.

On the other hand, though, Gmail has had other technical capabilities over the years that help to drive engagement, including tracking opens, clicks, and the amount of time that people spend with a message.

The report recommends taking steps to target Gmail’s specific needs, including putting a heavy emphasis on email authentication to prove that your organization is a valid sender, working to re-engage inactive users, and potentially pruning your list to ensure that inactive users don’t hurt deliverability.

Beyond Gmail, the report also breaks into a number of suggestions to drive marketing reach, including personalizing your messaging, using more GIFs and videos, and integrating data in ways that allow for more dynamic or localized content.

“Even if content cannot be customized to each of your 12 unique customer profiles, is there an opportunity to create two versions? How about three? Try and go that extra mile to find ways to increase relevance—the smallest variations can produce surprising outcomes,” the report concludes.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »


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