People Are Reading Fewer Marketing Emails Thanks to Gmail's New Inbox

The inbox automatically separates emails into several categories.

When Google launched a new inbox design last month, some speculated that it was about to make email-based advertising a lot harder. And it’s looking like those worries weren’t unfounded. The inbox, which automatically separates emails into four categories to keep the “primary” stream of mail clear from ads and social media alerts, seems to be steadily lowering open rates, or the count of how many advertising email recipients actually open them.

The email marketing company MailChimp posted data on their blog yesterday that shows a small (but, they say, significant) drop in open rates. Looking at the 1.5 billion emails sent within the six weeks surrounding the introduction of Gmail’s new inbox (May 29th) showed a marked drop for post-launch inbox rates. Interestingly, there was actually an increase for the first week—but MailChimp attributes this to the attention that each individual tab got from users after the initial switch, based on novelty alone.

Taking the 3 weeks after this post-launch hike, there was a consistent drop of at least .5%. Not massive by any means, considering that Gmail open rates tend to drop to as low as 10.5% during the winter holidays, but notable for the duration of the lowered rate. Most drops last a day, or maybe a week during the holiday season—before the new inbox was released, rates held at 13% for almost four months solid. And MIT Technology Review’s Tom Simonite pointed out that many Gmail users have yet to switch, meaning the open rates could fall even more.

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