Gmail Priority Inbox: The Continuation of a Trend

 George Bilbrey 

First Yahoo!, then Hotmail, and now Gmail. (And soon AOL?) In their ongoing campaign to be the inbox of choice, large webmail providers are rolling out features that reduce email overload and improve the email experience for subscribers by, among other things, highlights messages that the user is likely to deem important.

It’s still way too soon to tell what this means for the future of email marketing. But it’s clear that the “last in, on top” model of email — one that has prevailed for more than 15 years — is breaking. This model was both good and bad for marketers. The new model is also likely to be good and bad. It’s also possible that there won’t be one model. Instead, each provider will have a slightly unique twist meaning segmentation and targeting by ISP will become hugely important.

It’s also clear that sending the same email to every subscriber regardless of their interest or activity level is a doomed strategy. Your email must be interesting and engaging or it will be harder and harder to get a response.

What types of strategic changes are you contemplating in light of these new features from large webmail providers? Leave us a comment.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at Worldprints.com and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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