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Sooooo ... Let's Talk About Gmail Tabs


By Ken Magill

Okay, so maybe I spoke too soon when I begged in a recent column for email marketers to please, for the love of god, stop talking about Gmail tabs.

The column was written in response to a study by email intelligence firm Return Path that found Gmail tabs had no impact on commercial email open and read rates.

However, now we’ve got a study that says Gmail tabs are depressing click rates.

According to a study conducted by marketing services provider Epsilon, while email opens remained relatively steady during the rollout of Gmail tabs, there has been a drop in click rates in Gmail accounts that can’t be explained by seasonality.

In a study of opens and clicks from April until October on email sent to three major webmail providers—Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail—Epsilon found that while Gmail had historically been the top performer of the three click-wise, its performance took a comparative dip in July.

What is more, Gmail clicks have yet to bounce back indicating that the typical slow months of July and August do not account for the ongoing drop in performance.

In April—before Gmail tabs—Gmail’s average click rate was 4.8 percent compared to 4.2 percent and 3.5 percent for Yahoo! and Hotmail, respectively, according to Epsilon.

In May, all three experienced a relatively parallel drop to 4.3 percent, 3.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, Epsilon reported.

In June, all three bounced back a bit with Gmail still leading the pack with an average click rate of 4.6 percent compared to 4 percent and 3.2 percent for Yahoo! and Hotmail, respectively, according to Epsilon.

But then in July when Gmail tabs rolled out Gmail’s average click rate dropped to 4.1 percent while Yahoo!’s remained steady at 4 percent and Hotmail’s dipped slightly to 3 percent, according to Epsilon.

And in August, Gmail’s average click rate was 3.2 percent while Yahoo!’s was 3.1 percent and Hotmail’s was 2.4 percent, Epsilon reported.

According to Epsilon, Gmail click rates have tracked steadily with Yahoo! ever since.

Gmail’s and Yahoo! average click rates in September both 3.7 percent. Hotmail’s was 2.9 percent, according to Epsilon.

Gmail’s click rate in October was 3.4 percent, Yahoo!’s was 3.3 percent and Hotmail’s was 2.8 percent, according to Epsilon.

So essentially, from a click perspective, Gmail has begun performing like Yahoo! on a consistent basis.

And it’s performing that way for all of us. And there’s not a whole lot any of us can do about it other than keep sending compelling offers.

Now can we stop talking about Gmail tabs?


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Gmail Diet Coke
Date: 2013-12-14 14:19:02
Subject: huh?

The main complaint about Gmail Tabs is that subscribers will rarely check the promotions tab, therefore opens will decline and as a result, so will clicks. Epsilon is saying though that people are still opening messages, but clicking less. I'm not sure how they can blame that on Gmail tabs. It's either a technical glitch on Epsilon's end or just bad email marketing. I can't believe this made it past the fact checkers, much less your finely tuned bulls**t detector, Ken :)
Posted by:
Date: 2013-12-10 15:49:21

It would be nice to hear if other ESP's have experienced the same dip