Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu July 25 2013 22:29:28

Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

By: Ina Steiner

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One of the cardinal rules of email marketing is to make your list opt-in. People hate to find themselves subscribed to email and go hunting to figure out how to "unsubscribe." But Google, one of the largest email providers, has made changes to its Gmail service that users did not "opt into."

As I detail in Friday's Newsflash newsletter, Google is siphoning off emails from businesses, including email newsletters like those from EcommerceBytes, so when users visit their inbox, they have to click a tab to see the so-called "promotional" messages.



The fact that it's Google making this change is more than a little significant to online merchants. Maybe you can't get your site or products found in Google search, and now Google is making you pay for exposure in Google Shopping through PLAs, but you always had your solid, reliable email list to reach your customers.

But now Google is flexing its muscles again. And while the Gmail Inbox redesign may not be the end of the world, it's woken up businesses to how much power the company wields.

Google said its intentions are good - that people will visit the Promotions tab in Gmail with a clearer mind and intent - the idea is that your customers will be more predisposed to be wooed by your marketing messages.

But while Google says the redesign is to put control into the users' hands, by rolling out the redesign as the default, it's taking away users control by making the decision for them.

Marketplace sellers should be worried - Amazon wouldn't comment and eBay didn't respond when I emailed them with questions about whether they were seeing any impact as a result of the new Promotions tab in Gmail.

Email firm Yesmail's Jason Warnock provided me with interesting stats and some advice (see Friday's newsletter), but said it's still early days, and they are doing lots of testing.

Here's some advice on turning off the promotions tab from GenuineSeller.com. Be sure to let us know what you think as both an online seller and as a buyer and Gmail user.




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Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 25 23:00:36 2013

Hopefully this will get folks to leave Google Mail. I had to use it for my day job and hated it. Clumsy program and so nosey too!!! I really don't like it or their Crummy Chrome either.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: unusual1 This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jul 25 23:35:36 2013

I changed Gmail back to the way it was. I didn't ask for or want a change. Very stupid on their part - they must have had some ex ebay employees telling them what to do.  

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: askalice59

Fri Jul 26 00:20:45 2013

I don't see the problem. It does prioritize your mailbox but with the volume of email I get it helps me find what I need to see more easily. When I have time I can go back and look through the other folders.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 00:41:40 2013

I have my Gmail email forwarded to my Outlook program, and nothing has changed there.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Fri Jul 26 01:36:03 2013

The idea is good, but making it works automatically can be headache.  

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Fri Jul 26 01:45:12 2013

Our privacy is being invaded across the board; certainly, facebook (and possibly Linkedin) is getting into our email contact lists; there is no other way that they can suggest to me that a certain person may be known to me, when I do indeed know of that person, not via any social media site but only via a single email exchange some five years ago …

Our privacy is very much under threat, and not only from the NSA …

“Only the mediocre are always at their best”—Jean Giraudoux ...
So, undoubtedly, Donahoe is doing his best at eBay ... http://bit.ly/12xvzyA

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: InternetCarScams
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Fri Jul 26 07:26:01 2013

I like the new feature on my android device. And pop my Gmail accounts with winders live mail on the pc.

Gmail is king of spam control. With several old domain specific email addresses that are unfiltered and forwarded into my Gmail account which smartly figures out what is spam and what is not. Works great!

Just will take some time for the new feature to get accustomed to.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 26 07:42:35 2013

Just like eBay, Google/Gmail just can't stop remodeling the house.  Add Facebook to that group as well.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 07:53:53 2013

I like when someone else ''knows'' what you want. Obvious we are not smart enough to know what we want to look at. Another big brother watching ?

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Jul 26 08:21:39 2013

Google spokesperson told me, keep marketing messages out of your ecommerce notifications to your buyers, or those notifications could end up in the Promotions folder.

So if your emails to your buyers (shipping notification, for example) include messaging about a sale, coupon or request to join your email mailing list, it's possible that Google could place that email in the recipient's Promotions tab.

Even your signature line could be problematic.

What if someone told Google that ads in search results were too distracting, and that people had to click on a tab in order to see the ads, with the rationale that searchers would be in a better mindset to view the ads.

That's in effect what Google is doing to marketers with the Gmail changes, only it feels much more egregious since it's your email to your buyer.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Jul 26 08:28:17 2013

Freddy -
I gave up on ''big brother'' - apparently he moved in to stay indefinitely. Might as well treat him as family.


Every time my computer does something weird  I can blame the NSA. Having a bad day? - let the NSA know about it. Give the NSA an earful about latest government deeds & misdeeds.   Might as well get some value out of them. Better than a ''dear diary''.  

Now NSA want passwords & encryption! Will I wake up one day to find my email accounts magically sorted & organized?  

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Jul 26 08:37:21 2013

Just saw Ina's follow up -

I wonder about ''links'' after reading it. The emails I send to buyers when their item ships contains a link to my eBay store.

How would google discern which ''links'' are promotional, tho. Mr. Basset & I send emails with links to each other all the time!

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: OnceuponaTime This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 08:56:27 2013

Keep this search engine on file for future consideration...They are currently working on a private email system......https://ixquick.com/eng/

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 10:11:32 2013

On a personal level I use my GMail account as a throw-away email address. I check and delete everything about twice a year.

On a business level their meddling is more problematic and I'm sure has a (their) bottom line motive some where down the line. Like eBay they care only about their bottom line and I am wary of trusting them with my livelihood.  

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 11:45:05 2013

I liked Gmail until oh about last week.  Aside for the severe intrusive factor that is!

I HATE that part of it.  Creepy to be "shadowed" as I get--and receive!--messages for business and personal.

Now as to this NEWEST INVASION OF PRIVACY---don't even try to tell ME that some one at Google or hey even the NSA is NOT seeing these "pre-sorted" messagea and ads and then scrutinizing them to find out where we have been???  And what we LIKE?  Even more creeped out about that!

Changed mine back the first day--hard to FIND how to do it but Tech Support ie Mr Comet managed.  But I am pretty sure that I am STILL missing things------I def did NOT like this sorting and MISSING ALL OF MY BUSINESS info to some stray "tab".

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

by: baghera This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 26 11:56:24 2013

I did not like the changes to my Gmail inbox. I quickly found the settings and changed it back to the way it was. Only I know how I want my inbox setup. Google does not and should stay out of my business.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Jul 26 12:15:07 2013

Thanks, Ina, for the link to turning off the Promotions tab. Gmail is my primary e-mail account, and while the Ecommerce Bytes newsletters were directed to my Primary tab, I prefer to have all my messages in one, continuous column.

It would have been nice if they'd sent a warning of this change. I was in the middle of loading a web site in Firefox, when the whole thing shut down. I started it up again and thought my Gmail had become corrupted with all the extra tabs. It was only after I saw the "Welcome to the new Gmail inbox" message that I stopped worrying about what type of virus I must have picked up.  

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Jul 26 12:21:19 2013

This is one reason I run my own email server. I also use a mail client on my PC that lets me build my own filtering rules, so I can put things where I want them. I want to be able to sort and organize things according to my needs, not someone else's. Not to mention, this way I have more privacy. I also don't use Outlook because it's too well-known to hackers and too easy to exploit. Plus it's too much of a pain to build filters.

I don't like how companies keep assuming we want them to manage everything for us or that our configurations choices are their for changing when they choose. They're pushing us to use online services that are out of our control instead of applications that we own and can manage for ourselves. Not to mention, it's easier for them to market more junk to us on services they run.

Just yesterday, I had to stop using ZoneAlarm's free firewall because they insist upon hijacking your search box and home page before you can install it (along with adding a toolbar to all browsers). I never use the search box anyway and toolbars can easily be disabled, but my home page is not something I will cede to anyone else. I didn't want to have to waste time figuring out how to disable that stuff (some discussions on their forum said it's hard to do compared to the norm). I understand about wanting something in exchange for free software, but they went too far and now lost a potential customer. A lot of this kind of thing is happening and it's not good.

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst
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Fri Jul 26 12:43:54 2013

Another way to create accidental clicks that we the merchants have to pay for. It should not be called Promotions, it should be called Paid Ads, so people don't click and click thinking they are real personalized promotions. How many more failed projects will google make us pay for?

Perminate Link for Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes   Online Merchants Scramble to Cope with Gmail Changes

This user has validated their user name. by: InternetCarScams
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Fri Jul 26 13:02:15 2013

The new feature is only if you use webmail to access Gmail.

It's easy to set up either an external Imap or Pop3 account on Gmail. Click the star wheel and select pop and forwarding.

Personally i prefer the POP3 so i keep a copy of all incoming and outgoing mail on my pc.

Windows 7-8 live mail is free - and if you are still using XP outlook express works well.  

Google has done a fantastic job on the Gmail Android app. I prefer my YouTube, Facebook, and other social emails go into a separate folder.

Gotta keep up with the times folks.. :)

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