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Fact is, when Google speaks, even if you don’t exactly like what you hear, you don’t have much choice but to listen. The world of email marketing learned this lesson once again with the unveiling of a new unsubscribe feature in Gmail on August 6, 2014. Although switching up the Gmail inbox interface in generally isn’t anything new, moving the button that handles taking people off of mailing lists certainly shakes things up quite a bit. To bring you up to speed with this change, as well as what it means for your marketing operations moving forward, here’s everything you need to know about Google’s revamped approach to unsubscribe buttons.

What Exactly Happened?

For casual Gmail users around the world, the change that’s sending waves through the email marketing industry is one that isn’t even all that noticeable. As the Gmail team explained in a post on Google+, the unsubscribe button will now “surface” or move to the top of the message, next to the name of the sender, if such a button exists within the body of the message. Of course, if you’re a marketer or brand looking to stay on the right side of CASL, there are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to unsubscribe buttons; either you have one or you run the risk of feeling the long arm of the law loom over your campaign.

Pushing Back Against Spam

So what does Google hope to accomplish by employing automated button placement in all incoming messages moving forward? As Konrad Krawcyzk of Digital Trends explains, this move is all about kicking spam to the curb for good. Instead of letting shady senders hide or bury unsubscribe buttons deep within the message content, the tech giant is taking the wheel on this issue and saying no to these less than transparent practices. However, it’s important to note that Google isn’t changing the basic makeup of messages; the incoming email still has to have an unsubscribe button, otherwise this change doesn’t do anything. However, it’s now easier than ever before for users of one of the most popular email clients on the web to turn off messages from spammers and legitimate brands alike.

Is the Sky Falling?

After reading all of that, your first reaction probably registers somewhere between disbelief and a sense of complete dread regarding the future of your brand’s marketed messages. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it initially sounds. Whether it’s creating tabbed dividers for promotional emails in the inbox or tweaking how images appear in the body of messages, Google’s made a name for itself when it comes to constantly breaking the mold in an effort to improve the user experience.

As far as this particular change goes, you might see a little dip in your subscriber numbers from this client now that the change is live, but as Anne P. Mitchell of The Internet Patrol notes in her coverage of the change, there’s definitely a silver lining to this development for affected brands. Instead of having users incorrectly flag your messages as spam, which does way more harm than just watching these users leave the contact list, readers can just end the relationship with a simple click.

Aside from refining your contacts by cutting out the people who probably weren’t going to convert anyway, this change could also help provide enhanced, and more accurate, click-through and open rates. For some ISPs, these ratios serve as the deciding factor between seeing your message land in the inbox with other legit offerings or languishing in the spam folder with the riff-raff.

Predicting Google’s Next Move

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to predict what’s next on Google’s agenda when it comes to fighting spam and, often inadvertently, changing the way you connect with your audience via email marketing. The truth is that when the guys pulling the strings at Gmail make a move, all you can do is sit back and watch. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless.

Regardless of what Google does, as long as you place a premium on quality and consistency in your messages, you’ll be just fine. These rules and changes to the structure of Gmail aren’t designed to ruin your campaign, but rather to ensure that quality content takes a place that’s far above spam in the inbox. As long as you stick to honest and powerful methods that keep you in this group, you’ll have everything you need to weather the storm if, and when, the next big change to this email client sets the newswires aflame.

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Sometimes, the morning seems to come just a little too early for your taste. Even though you know better, hitting that snooze button and trying to sneak in a few extra minutes before facing the day sure does feel good. While it might seem like a bit of a stretch, Google, ever the innovator in the digital world, potentially has plans to port this concept into your audience members’ inbox in the near future. If you rely on reaching out via email to spread your message about products, services, and deals, you’ll want to take a few minutes a learn a little more about Gmail’s “Snooze Button” and what it might mean for your brand moving forward.

What Exactly Would a Snooze Button Do?

First off, let’s explain exactly what this new feature in the Gmail inbox might do. To put it plainly, Google wants users to be able to use the Snooze Button as a way to check back in with messages at a later date. Instead of facing a decision on whether or not to read the email immediately, dump it in the virtual trash bin, or lose it beneath a tide of incoming messages, users can use this theoretical addition to the inbox interface to act on this item at a later date. No matter how long the user sets the “snooze” feature to hold the message – early reports claim that the duration of the feature can span from hours to weeks – once the allotted time limit ends, the message moves from an inactive status back to the top of the inbox with the other new entries.

Part of a Bigger Series of Changes

On its own, the Snooze Button is a clever tool that adds a new layer of inbox functionality to the Gmail graphic user interface. However, it’s important to note that it is just one of a slew of new features the tech giant is testing as it prepares yet another revamp of its email services. Aside from the ability to hold off messages for later, enhanced sorting features, like new tabs covering travel, finance, and recent purchases, are also currently in the works. Additionally, Google is also testing a new pinning tool, giving users a way to keep important messages, like time sensitive offers from your brand, at the top of the inbox with recently received emails.

The Reason Behind the Test

So why is Google messing with what most would describe to be a pretty good thing? The best answer to this is two-fold. First, when it comes to the inbox arms race between Gmail and its competitors, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t really apply. To keep itself in the position of industry leader, Google is always looking for the next great thing. Second, and perhaps more important, is the fact that giving users the ability to customize the inbox and create a setting that is conducive to their lifestyles is what makes Gmail so attractive. If Google wants to keep the reputation of offering the most interactive and intuitive email experience, constantly testing new features is just par for the course.

Familiar Ground for Tech Savvy Viewers

Of course, if your audience is already on the tech savvy side of things, the concept of an inbox snooze button is probably nothing new to them. With the advent of Google’s Apps Script tool, Gmail users have been able to create their own custom features that offer this same functionality. Obviously, if you’re not familiar with editing and writing serviceable web scripts, this isn’t the easiest process in the world. However, it does show that the demand is there for such a feature, adding even more credence to Google’s testing of the Snooze Button and its potential role as a Gmail interface staple.

Is This a Good or a Bad Thing for Your Brand?

Now that you’re an expert on Gmail’s Snooze Button, it’s time to delve into the potential ramifications of this addition to the inbox in relation to your marketed messages. While first impressions might lead you to think that this might only serve as a way for users to put off your emails indefinitely, that’s probably not be the case. Having a readily available way to sift through the clutter and keep these offerings in plain sight could add a new dimension to your marketing outlook. Sure, messages that deliver time sensitive offers could experience a few bumps in the road, but anything that gives your users a chance to read your messages, even if it’s not right away, is still better than these audience members completely ignoring it in the first place or losing it among the avalanche of incoming emails to their inboxes.

G_mail

 

For those who know Google, it’s not surprising to see the tech giant switching things up once again when it comes to how people use it’s hyper popular email service. While the changes to Gmail, dubbed “Gridview,” still might be in the trial stages, it never hurts to keep up with all the latest developments to ensure that you and your emails aren’t caught off guard once things go live. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the particulars on Gridview and how it affects the way your audience interacts with your messages once they open up their Gmail inbox.

Bringing You up to Speed

At this point, if you haven’t heard the news, you’re probably wondering what Gridview is in the first place. Basically, after partitioning the user inbox into three basic tabs last year, the Gmail team now has plans to spice things up for the one that matters most to your brand. With the new changes to the promotional tab currently in testing, Google hopes to make it easier for your marketing messages to show off your sales pitch, all while creating a more pleasing and enjoyable experience for the audience as well. Of course, to get to there, you’ll have to make a few tweaks to how you approach your message, but we’ll talk a little more about that later.

Breaking down the New Layout

As the name implies, Gridview’s doing away with the old-fashion list of messages and making things a little more visual. Instead of having featured images buried in the message, this part of your message now takes center stage on the viewer’s screen, along with a brief subject line that helps explain what the message is all about. In addition to these two portions of the new Gridview layout, you’ll also have your brand name and a “sender image” – think company logo – built-in this email tile. Along with all other promotional emails coming in to the viewer’s inbox, this should make for a colorful new way for shoppers to check out the latest deals with their morning cup of coffee at the very least.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Of course, Google’s not just rolling out an entirely new setup just to keep its name in the news; it already has plenty of other major developments to ensure it’s always the top name on the web. Instead, this rollout serves two purposes. The first is to continue to make Gmail the most innovative and attractive email option out there. While Google might be the top dog when it comes to search engine status and general web influence, there’s plenty of other email providers out there that offer a great product, so keeping up with the competition is a very real motivating factor on this front.

The second and perhaps even more important, is to keep providing support and visibility for Google+. While this network might never rival Facebook, Google’s not backing down from the fight any time soon. If you want to upload a sender image to represent your company, you’ll need to have a verified Google+ page that’s tied to the domain you’re sending messages from. Clearly, this is just the latest in a long list of clever ways that Google is trying to encourage companies to keep using the social network and guarantee that it holds at least some Internet relevancy.

Making Sure You Get the Most out of Your Emails

So now that you’re well aware of what’s going down with the promotional tab on Gmail, how do you make sure you’re emails stand out in a sea of beautiful images and alluring subject lines from competitors? To start this discussion, keep in mind that you have to play by Google’s rules if you want to pull this off. Your sender name should be less than 20 characters total, and your featured image needs to be at least 580px by 400px.  Additionally, if you go over 75 characters on your subject line, expect this part of your square on the grid to come in truncated. From here, you can get back to optimizing subject lines and rolling out great content like you do under the current system.

Is Gridview Here to Stay?

Naturally, some in the industry might be a little skeptical about whether or not Gridview is the real deal, considering it hasn’t even made it to live inboxes yet. While it’s true that this new layout’s still in testing, it’s hard not to imagine Google making this the go-to way to display the promotional tab, considering its track record for pushing the envelope. If this does become the norm, chances are you might see a dip in the importance placed on traditional testing, and the focus then shift toward maximizing the value of the new featured image approach. Whatever happens, it should be exciting to see what kind of splash Gridview makes in the email marketing world and what Google might have up its sleeve for the next big inbox innovation.

Grid_View

 

Google is perpetually looking to break the mold when it comes to allowing users to connect with each other. However, the tech giant may have stirred up the pot in a big way with a recent announcement that focuses on its burgeoning social network and one of the most popular email services on the web. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, brushing up on this development and how it affects the world of email communications, before the change goes live, is a smart idea for anyone who uses these tools or has an interest in the email marketing industry.

So What Happened Exactly?

In a recent blog post, Google announced a new social media feature for Google Plus. The search engine leader plans to add the capability to email anyone on the Google Plus network, as long as they also have an existing Gmail address tied to their accounts. For those who have been around the social media scene for a while, Google tried this before with its previous social media system, Buzz. While Buzz didn’t blow up and take the Internet by storm as the company would have liked, the networking landscape has changed drastically since that time. Before this functionality goes live, Google plans to email Gmail and Google Plus users to let them know how this new avenue of access may potentially affect their ability to connect and socialize with others who use these services.

How Will It Work?

While it looks fairly simple at first glance, Google has several caveats that affect how you can utilize this service, according to a breakdown from the New York Times Tech blog, Bits. To start, simply typing in someone’s name in the email entry field on Gmail won’t get you on your way to connecting with new friends. Before you can contact these individuals, you’ll have to “follow” them on Google Plus. Once you click the follow button on the person’s profile, which doesn’t require his or her permission, feel free to shoot off an email from your Gmail account by typing the person’s name into the recipient field.

There are a few other things to keep in mind once you send off an email. First, the receiving party’s email address won’t be visible to you unless he or she decides to respond. Additionally, the emails that originate from Google Plus won’t end up in the “Primary” inbox tab in Gmail. Instead, recipients will find these messages under the “Social” tab with other transmissions from social networks and similar properties. Additionally, opting out of the process is also an option. By selecting the “General” tab under the Gmail settings section of the inbox, you can turn this feature off and avoid unsolicited emails entirely.

Why Google Thinks This Is a Great Idea

There are a few other things to keep in mind once you send off an email. First, the receiving party’s email address won’t be visible to you unless he or she decides to respond. Additionally, the emails that originate from Google Plus won’t end up in the “Primary” inbox tab in Gmail. Instead, recipients will find these messages under the “Social” tab with other transmissions from social networks and similar properties. Additionally, opting out of the process is also an option. By selecting the “General” tab under the Gmail settings section of the inbox, you can turn this feature off and avoid unsolicited emails entirely.

Why Others Aren’t So Excited

While the search engine and social media leader might be excited, it’s not unexpected to have a few naysayers pop up around every major announcement. As noted in the aforementioned NY Times blog, the fear of this new feature compromising user privacy is apparently an issue to some. While Internet privacy is a very serious issue and not something to simply brush aside, reading the official blog release on the subject illuminates two key points on this subject. First, simply not responding to entries that fall into the social tab is completely acceptable. Second, the aforementioned opt-out feature exists in this new structure to allow those not looking to make new connections a chance to turn off this functionality and close the doors to outside communications if they so choose.

What It Means in the Long Run

So what does this mean for email communications moving forward? To start, if adoption of this new program enjoys sustained success, expect other major players in the email and social media industries to follow the lead and build connections of their own. Even if this doesn’t happen, simply having one of the leaders in this sector bridge the gap opens up some great opportunities for individuals and organizations looking to reach out to others with similar interests or shared needs.

To wrap things up, this latest innovation from Google has the ability to revolutionize how users of Gmail and social media connect. By offering an optional service to forge new contacts, marketers and individuals alike can reach out to one another and exchange information voluntarily. Naturally, privacy is a big issue when it comes to meeting new people on the Internet, and many will undoubtedly want to opt out before the emails start flowing in. However, Google has clearly offered enough flexibility and options to make this a lasting and potentially beneficial change to how you interact with others in virtual space.

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Some of our customers might have noticed a sudden increase or decrease in search traffic from Google this past week.

This could be the result of Google’s first official update of 2013.

The 24th “Panda” update was confirmed by Google to have occurred on January 22, 2013.

Google claims that 1.2% of queries were effected.

There has been lots of chatter about an update that also occurred on January 17 – 18, 2013, but Google did not confirm that.

For those that are interested, you can view the entire Google Algorithm Change history on SEOmoz.

As a quick summary of Google’s main algorithm changes, there is Penguin and Panda. If your site was hit by this recent update or a past update, these are the things to watch for…

For Penguin
Look for a lot of anchor text (which is the clickable text that links to your website) in your back link profile that are not branded, but rather an exact match of your target keywords. For example, if your site was Zappos.com but the majority of your back links were for the anchor text “shoes” and not “Zappos” this would raise a red flag. This is not to say that these links are bad (or spammy) and they could be entirely legitimate, but when the Google Algorithm looks at them (in relation to your branded links) it can still contribute to triggering Penguin. In addition, look at your site for “keyword stuffing”. This is the act of over-optimizing your site and really jamming your keywords into titles, descriptions, meta tags, internal anchor links. If your site title is “keyword & keyword & keyword & keyword” then you’re on the wrong track.

For Panda
Look for lots of pages with “thin” content or very similar content. This could often take the shape of really short articles or an article that looks like it could be pieces of a different article just “re-spun” to try to trick Google into thinking it’s new content. Take a look in Google Analytics for pages that have a very high bounce rate or that seem to get no traffic at all. Remember, Google wants to bring people to good quality content, so if your site is serving up pages that don’t provide that, expect Google to no longer send people your way.

 

When I was playing hockey last week, I mentioned in the locker room that Google had done this update (…yes, I’m that cool in my hockey locker room!) and was emphasizing the importance behind building high quality links to your website. My very good friend and teacher extraordinaire, Jeff Borsuk, was quick to offer up his help. Here are the pictures of the link he created for Elite Email… =)

Building Links in School Building-Links-in-School-2

 

Day 1 of the CRFA 2012 show in Toronto was great yesterday. We got to meet many existing customers from around Canada, as well as talk to many new people who were excited about how email marketing can help their business.

The show continues today and I’m confident it will go just as well!

Today at 4pm our CEO, Robert Burko, will be leading another seminar in the presentation room titled “Why Google Can Be Your Friend: A Look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEM)”

Every one of your customers uses Google to find information from where to eat to what to buy and everything else you could imagine. Harnessing the power of search engines doesn’t have to be scary, intimidating or costly. Learn how to put the search engines to work for you to drive business and help you succeed.

(View full show schedule)

Whether you are brand new to the art of SEO/SEM or are a seasoned veteran, the hour long presentation is sure to give you some new insight that could really help you take your search marketing to the next level this year.

 

 

You asked and we listened!

We are happy to announce that this past weekend we rolled out a new release to all customers that includes Google Analytics integration.

Elite Email Integrates with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful website analytics tool used by many website operators (…and it’s what we use here at Elite Email, too!).

By viewing the reports on Google Analytics you can get deep insight into your traffic sources, conversion rates, and a whole lot more. You can then use this information to make important and useful modifications to your website to better achieve your goals. For more information about Google Analytics, visit http://www.google.com/analytics/ .

One really handy tool within Google Analytics is the ability to measure specific marketing campaigns & sources. This way you can separately measure the results of your search engine marketing campaign, banner ads you are running, email newsletters you are sending, etc, etc.

For example, instead of just seeing how many people across all your website traffic converted for one of your goals (such as buying a product), you can actually drill-down and see how many people from a specific marketing initiative resulted in that goal conversion. This lets you better understand what is effective and what is not, in addition to how to make improvements.

By integrating your email marketing with Elite Email to Google Analytics we have extended the story of your email newsletter a lot further…

Before you could always see how many people were clicking on links in your email (in addition to who clicked, when they clicked, where they were located when they clicked, etc, etc), but now you can actually use the Google Analytics information to see what happened once they were on your website. Did they buy the product you were advertising? Did they explore other parts of your website? Did they just leave right away? These are all good questions to ask, and now you can get easy answers!

When you create a new email, you can enable Google Analytics on step 4 (Email Settings) by checking the box as seen below:

Enable Google Analytics for your Email

Enable Google Analytics for your Email

By default, the Campaign Name will be the name you had given this specific email, but you can easily change it to anything you want.

This campaign name will later appear in Google Analytics. If you want to measure activity from just this campaign, then make sure you give it a unique name so you can tell it apart from other campaigns you are running through Elite Email and other sources.

When someone clicks on a link in your email, we will automatically associate it with the following properties:

Source: Elite Email
Medium: email
Campaign: (Whatever you had entered)

You can view the data and filter the results based on each one of these properties. So, you can see all the goal conversions you have received from ‘email’ or you can see how many goal conversions you received from a specific campaign.

Keep in mind, that Elite Email updates your data in real-time, but Google can take a little longer. So, don’t be worried if you see a ‘click’ from Elite Email but nothing in your Google Analytics account yet.

If you do not enable Google Analytics then there will be no change to your email at all and everything will be the same as it has always been. Also, don’t worry if you enable Google Analytics but link to a website that doesn’t use it, everything will still be fine.

As an added convenience, you can establish whether Google Analytics should be enabled or disabled for new emails by going to the “Settings” section in your account.

We’re really excited about this new feature and we hope you are, too!

 

We work with a lot of e-tailers and while we are honored to help them with their email marketing, we understand that the topic of SEO is equally as important to them.

Getting good traffic through the search engines is so important. After all, if people don’t find YOU when they search, then they’ll potentially find your competitor.

Even hear at Elite Email we get a ton of our traffic through natural organic (which means ‘not paid’) search engine results.

One thing we always talk about at our weekly SEO meetings is where we rank for a bunch of different terms. Although it is difficult to get a truly accurate measurement because it varies by location/data-center, we can get a general idea.

The coveted #1 spot is always the goal, but just how much more important is the #1 spot to the #2 spot or any other listing on page 1.

A recent study from Optify shows some pretty staggering results that paint a clear picture of just how big the difference between #1 and #2 can be in terms of your click-throughs.

Websites ranked number 1 received an average click-through rate (abbreviated to “CTR”) of 36.4%, number 2 had a CTR of 12.5%, and number 3 had a CTR of 9.%. Those are some pretty serious differences for just an inch of screen real estate on the results page.

According to Optify, being in the #1 spot on Google is the equivalent to the TOTAL of all the traffic the sites in the #2, #3, #4, and #5 sites will receive.

If your site is not yet ranking well in the search engines, then shooting for the #1 spot on a competitive term can be an ambitious goal. You should definitely start by just striving to be on the first page. But, as you can see in the chart below, as you climb to the top of page 1, there are some pretty substantial advantages.

Organic Click Thru Rate by Search Position (Optify data)

Click Through Rates of Google SERP's based on Optify data

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin