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How major changes by Yahoo! & Google are going to impact your Email Marketing!

With Yahoo! recently announcing a huge change in their Email Policies and Gmail rolling out their new tabbed inbox for desktop as well as mobile, there is potential for huge impact on the email marketing world.

With these changes being rolled out by two big ISP’s, most marketers can find themselves in a state of flux. How are they supposed to estimate the impact of these changes (whether positive or negative) will have towards their campaigns and how are they supposed to make changes or adjustments to their email marketing strategies.  So lets have a look at what these changes are and what can marketers do about them:

Part I:  Yahoo! is freeing up email IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start.

Part II: Gmail is rolling out its new tabbed inbox which has an auto-sort feature that pushes your email in different tabs automatically.

PART I : What You Need to Know about Yahoo!’s new Email Policy Change

Recently, Yahoo! announced a huge change that may affect how you communicate with your subscribers. All Yahoo! Mail accounts that have been inactive for the past 12 months can now be closed and reclaimed by Yahoo! and then be made available again for new users.

Here’s an excerpt from the official Yahoo! announcement:

We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start. In mid July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want.

(Read the original notification here.)

This means that all Yahoo! users who haven’t logged in to their mailbox for the past 12 months would have their emails deactivated and made available for new registrations. This policy went into effect on July 15th.

How does it affect the Email Marketers?

With Yahoo making the unused accounts invalid, sending emails to such email IDs will only mean increase in hard bounces and hence degrade the IP reputation, that may in turn lead to increased spam placement.

What can email marketers do?

There are a few things that email marketers can try when it comes to finding out how much of their subscriber’s list consists of inactive Yahoo! Mail IDs. The following actions might or might not help all marketers so we would present them as suggestions rather than as a complete solution.

1. Filter out your Yahoo! Subscribers:

Filter the Yahoo! Subscribers who have not even opened a campaign sent by you in the last 12 months and create segments.

How to do that on the Octane platform?

Follow these simple steps :

Dashboard -> Manage Subscribers -> Select your List -> Create Segments -> Create a new segment -> Give a name and Save -> Open the segment and add rules -> Save your segment.

*Rules to add: Email Address contains yahoo and those who have not opened

2. Use filtered Yahoo! Mail recipient lists to check for active accounts:

This step is crucial for successful email delivery as bounces from de-activated email IDs would skew your main campaign metrics. Therefore, sending a Yahoo! Mail specific campaign will help you identify the now de-activated accounts and have them added to the suppression list. The active ones can be added back to your main mailing lists.

This is what Yahoo! Had to say :

We will have a 30-day period between deactivation and before we recycle these IDs for new users. During this time, we’ll send bounce back emails alerting senders that the deactivated account no longer exists.

But be careful when you do this, large bounces on a campaign like this can result in IP reputation and domain reputation degradation.

Still got a question? Reach out to us and we’ll help you regarding Yahoo! Mail’s changes..

PART II: What You Need to Know About Gmail’s New Inbox

Recently, Gmail rolled out its new tabbed inbox for desktop as well as mobile devices. It is an auto-sort feature which pushes your email in different tabs. All new messages are automatically filed into one of these tabs, meaning that email recipients have to “tab” through to view them. These tabs are fully customizable, but the standard packages are Primary, Social and Promotions.

So lets have a closer look at the kind of tabs that are now part of Gmail:

Primary – This tab is supposed to show email threads that primarily consist of your one to one conversations with your acquaintances, your payment confirmations and important transactional messages.

Social – This tab shows messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online-dating services and other social websites.

Promotions – This tab sorts and holds emails that cover deals, offers and other marketing and promotional emails.

Updates – This tab will hold personal, auto-generated updates including confirmations, receipts, bills and statements.

Forums – This tab holds messages from the online groups you might belong to, discussion boards, chat threads, online communities etc.

Personalised Tabs – You also have the option of creating more personalized tabs. You can name the tabs according to your requirements, can assign mails to them and also set rules for them defining what kind of emails should be held under the tab automatically.

What This means for Email Marketers?

From what we can tell so far, this feature can have a both positive as well as a negative impact on marketing email campaigns.

On the positive side, instead of your emails getting lost among personal messages, order confirmations and social updates, marketers now have a dedicated tab to showcase their mailers, offers and messages. This means that the users that open that tab will focus fully on those promotional messages and quickly decide whether they want to engage with your campaign or not. As a result, users might open and click on more marketing related mails than they usually do.

On a negative side however, this filter could very likely just hide promotional emails in the tab without ever being checked on since the mailbox open to the Primary tab by default. Many users might not even be aware that there are messages waiting for them (including offers or information they might be interested in) in another section of their mailbox.

Should marketers be worried about it?

The concept and process of bucketing emails and stacking them differently isn’t new to marketers. This has historical precedence in the ‘Priority Inbox’ that Gmail had rolled out in 2011. While primarily a grading based system, it allowed users to prioritize their emails and label them as important or not so important. Similarly, there was another update called ‘smart labels’ that labeled your emails itself as important or not to better place it in Inbox, Priority Inbox or the Spam folder.

Since marketers were able to cope with such changes in the past, the introduction of the new tabbed mailbox should not feel like the end of the world. While Google is trying to give users a better and smarter way to manage their mails, for marketers, it is also throwing open a challenge to create and send campaigns that not only have great content but also enough engagement to be able to land first and foremost into the primary tab.

What Would Smart Marketers Do?

Be sure to continue to focus on creating high quality content. Great content is what makes people look forward to receiving your emails and actually click on a link. You can also proactively tell your Gmail subscribers about the new tabs in their inbox and ask them to add you to the safe list or to move your campaign to the Primary tab. For example: you can share with them the following simple steps to change the tab under which your campaign is held-

To continue receiving these mails from us, please following the following steps:
1) Click on the Promotion tab.
2) Drag one of our emails from the ‘Promotional’ tab to the ‘Primary’ tab.
3) Click ‘Yes’ when asked if you want future emails from us to go to your ‘Primary’ tab.

To read Google’s official blog post, click here or to learn more about the new Gmail inbox, watch the video here.

So we hope all this information about Yahoo! Mail and Google’s Gmail changes will help and equip you to better understand and cope with these changes. While it is certain that all email campaigns will get affected, what matters most is how the email marketers behind these campaigns adapt and evolve to use the evolution of the inbox and the availability of new email IDs to their advantage. If you need more information, do get in touch with us and we will try to help you the best we can.

–          Team Octane


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