Gmail Turns the Inbox into a Visual Feast - What Marketers Need to Know

For marketers, Gmail’s promotion tab has been a bit of a blessing and a curse. Today, Gmail delivers more opt-in marketing emails to the promotions tab compared to the spam folder. This has been great for businesses since the chances of people reading emails in the spam folder is slim to none. On the other hand, people reading promotional emails from certain companies and industries declined slightly after the change, but not a catastrophic decline as some predicted. In fact, highly active Gmail users read more promotional emails now than they did before the change. Today, Gmail announced the Promotion tab’s renovation from what some have called a ghetto into an upscale, luxury shopping mall. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your emails can take advantage of Gmail’s Grid View.

Take a look at this:

Boring, right? The inbox of today is nothing but a flood of text. When we choose what emails to open, we first look at who sent the email. If it’s a personal email, it’s a no-brainer. We’ll open and read it. If it’s a promotional email, most people will then read the subject line to help them decide to open or not. All of this happens in a matter of seconds, so if the subject line isn’t relevant, people will only delete and move on.

Now take a look at this:

Amazingly, this image is the same inbox of the previous image, but uses images in the email to aid in your decision of “to open or not to open.” Gmail is calling this the Grid View, and anyone that sends promotional email should take advantage of this.

Setting the Image in Gmail’s Grid View

You can let Gmail’s algorithm decide on what the best image is, but if you’re a marketer, you probably already have an idea of what image you want. Gmail is using their “Actions in the Inbox” to make this possible. Actions in the Inbox uses structured data to work and supports JSON-LD and Microdata. Google takes advantage of this structured data using schemas that can be found on schema.org.

To show a featured image in Gmail’s new grid view, do the following:

  1. Verify the Featured Image Size.  Your featured image should be at least 580px x 400 px (images larger than this will be resized as small as possible)
  2. Add the Code with the Image. This is based on the Offer schema and declared by the name image and the URL of the image.

 

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer">
  <link itemprop="image" href="http://www.returnpath.com/someimage.jpg"/>
</div>

 

  1. Optimize the Sender name and Subject Line. The sender name should be less than 20 characters or will be truncated and the subject line should be less than 75 characters to avoid truncation.
  2. Include Your Company’s Logo. If you haven’t set up a Google+  page for your business, you need to do that first for this to work. Google will use the image in your Google+ profile. It uses the following profiles (visit this page for descriptions of each profile and requirements):

about

about.image

publisher

publisher.name

publisher.url

publisher.url/googlePlus

 

Then insert the following code (replacing the above profiles with your own):

 

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/EmailMessage">

  <div itemprop="publisher" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">

    <meta itemprop="name" content="Return Path"/>

    <link itemprop="url" href="https://www.returnpath.com"/>

    <link itemprop="url/googlePlus" href="https://plus.google.com/+ReturnPath"/>

  </div>

  <div itemprop="about" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer">

    <link itemprop="image" href="http://www.returnpath.com/someimage.jpg"/>

  </div>

</div>

After that, you’re set to have your selected images and logo appear in the new Gmail grid.

Do you think this changes the game on how we test emails and subject lines to Gmail subscribers?