Gmail’s New Layout Hurts Email Open Rates. Text Open Rate Is Still 99%.


Gmail’s new layout has email marketers worried about open rates. Luckily for those who use SMS, text messages are still opened 99% of the time. And no webmail redesign will ever affect that.

A recent blog post from the email marketing gurus at MailChimp outlines a potential problem for companies stemming from Gmail’s new tabbed inbox feature. They note that since the new system was implemented, open rates have dropped, from 13% to just over 12%. The reason: Gmail’s tabbed browsing automatically filters promotional emails into its own tab. So even if a company or organization has a pre-existing relationship with a consumer, its promotional emails are kept out of the primary inbox. With 425 million Gmail users, this is potentially a huge loss for email marketers.

MailChimp’s Matt Grove did some data analysis regarding open rates before and after the new system:

So now for the big question. Is the new inbox affecting open rates?
Gmail published their blog post about the tabbed inbox on May 29, which was the 22nd week of 2013. The week after that announcement, we actually saw increased open rates. Everyone likes a new toy, and the added attention that changing the inbox brings probably skewed results that week. To compensate, I skewed my concept of the “event” to the week after the attention died down. That’s when I saw a small but definite drop.

Good news for Mobile Commons customers, though: the open rate of text messages remains completely unaffected by this change. Text messages still have a 99% open rate, and are a guaranteed way to get someone’s attention.

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