I've been using Gmail for about 10 months now. The only reason I started using it was because my Outlook crashed and I got fed up. I had a Hotmail account and Yahoo! account but they didn't do it for me. Even though I did get Outlook back up and running and need to use it for its rich feature set, I continue to use Gmail for basic emailing functions. It's easy to use interface and 3G of free space won me over. And apparently it's winning over a growing number of email users. In fact, according to a recent article in Direct magazine, unlike AOL email accounts which are typically popular with consumers only, professional types seem to be signing up. It even appears that having a Gmail account makes a better impression to prospective employers than having an AOL account.....Sorry AOL (I guess I was right to ditch my AOL account eight years ago!).
With more and more people using Gmail, an interesting quandary is beginning to face email marketers. Google serves of contextual ads in Gmail. So if you send a nice HTML email with graphics out to customers and prospects, by default the graphics are turned off and will have to manually be turned on by recipients. But Gmail will read the text of the message and then will place text ads in the margins of the email, and those ads could be from your competitors who have bought keywords with Google Adwords. Your content gets blocked while your competitors ads come in nice in clear. That's bad. Because of this you'd probably think it's not worth sending to gmail accounts because you might be drumming up business for your competition. But......
Here's why you may want to think twice about not sending to Gmail accounts:
- According to email management firm Return Path, overall response rates for their May mailing campaigns was just over 2.8%, but Gmail users responded at a 5.6% rate, or double the average.
- Gmail users are generally viewed as more sophisticated and more responsive
- Gmail users are viewed as more active
So that puts email marketers in an interesting dilemma: Do I send to Gmailers since they are more likely to respond to my emails or do I not send to them because I could be putting them on the doorstep of my competition?