1.5 billion people use Gmail for their communication and information needs. With over a billion active users, Gmail is one of the most visited websites globally. In fact, as a marketer, you probably have your Gmail account open 24/7. Considering the dominance of Gmail, your email marketing campaign needs to be suited to the specific guidelines and preferences of Google’s email service.
This article details six ways that you can craft an effective email marketing strategy using Gmail.
Learn the ins and outs of Gmail.
Before you even attempt to harness the power of Gmail for email marketing, make sure that you’ve mastered the use of Gmail itself. Familiarize yourself with Gmail shortcuts and use two-factor authentication for tighter security. You should also use labels to organize emails and take advantage of the Smart Reply and Templates (canned responses) features. Gmail also has an “Undo send” option that can save you from an embarrassing email mishap, and you can select how long you will be able to undo a sent message (5-30 seconds). And did you know that you can establish a delegate who can control your Gmail account? This can be used within a company to ensure smooth communication flows, or even within the marketing department.
Pay attention to Gmail’s guidelines and relevant laws.
Gmail trusts emails that come from authentic and verifiable sources only. If your email is missing one of the essential guidelines, it will probably end up in the Spam folder. Use the list below as a checklist for preventing your email from being marked as spam:
- Have a clear sender address containing your name or your company’s name.
- Proofread your email.
- Avoid spammy subject lines.
- Be honest. Do not use threats or deception to get people to open your email.
In addition, make sure to read and follow the relevant rules governing email marketing in the country where you operate. In the US, you’ll have to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. If you have clients in the EU, read up on the E-Privacy Directive and GDPR (General Data Protection Legislation).
One important rule from the CAN-SPAM Act is that you should make it easy for email recipients to unsubscribe from your emails. Otherwise, some customers might find a different way to stop receiving your emails, such as marking them as spam. This will then affect your reputation.
In writing subject lines, avoid using too much capitalization and exclamation marks. Also, learn how to arouse emotion without being dishonest. For example, use the principle of urgency marketing to get people to want to buy your product.
Authenticate your messages.
Your domain provider will provide you with authentication methods. Use your domain hosting service or email provider’s instructions for establishing authentication.
To prevent your emails from getting labeled as spam, set up these authentication methods:
- Publish a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record for your domain to prevent spammers from sending unauthorized messages that look like they’re from your domain.
- Turn on DomainKeys Identified Mail signing for your messages. DKIM is used to verify that the domain owner was the one who sent the message.
- Publish a Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC) for your domain to protect the domain against email spoofing.
Develop good timing and cadence for sending emails.
If you don’t send an email to your customers for a long time and then suddenly blast them with a promotional email, Gmail will get suspicious. Start gradually by sending out emails to a list of close contacts whom you know will open your messages. Slowly increase the number of emails you send from there, until you reach a comfortable send rate.
One more thing to consider is the timing of your email. Will a customer check emails at 1 am? Probably not. But people usually check their emails upon waking up and before going to bed, so 6 am and 8 pm are optimal times for sending out emails.
Prioritize sending emails to the most engaged users.
Only send emails to people who have agreed to receive messages from you. Additionally, make sure to confirm a user’s email address before listing them as a subscriber. Regularly send emails to confirm that the recipients want to stay subscribed. Purge unresponsive recipients from your email list before they mark you as spam.
Checking out who among your email recipients engage most with your emails is not just a matter of checking customer loyalty, it is also a way to make sure that your content is appealing to your target audience. Though unsubscribing recipients who don’t read your emails may sound counterintuitive at first, it is actually better to focus on sending emails to the select people who care about your messages and your brand.
Split test your emails for best results.
If you have two versions of an email and you want to know which one would get more engagement before sending out the email to a larger audience, then split testing is for you. You can have two variations of the same message, or you can send the same email at two different times. Afterwards, check which email gets more responses and retain it. This practice will help you get more conversions and improve customer experience at the same time.
Conclusion: Maximizing Gmail for marketing
Gmail is far from perfect, but it gives users a lot at zero cost. For companies that want to manage business expenses in marketing, opting to use Gmail for email marketing is a wise idea. An email marketer who wants to harness the power of Gmail should learn the basics of Gmail, read Gmail’s guidelines, authenticate messages, follow proper timing, send messages to engaged users, and split test emails.