Four considerations when sending to Gmail users

3rd July 2012 By Sam Burrows in News

Last Thursday, Google revealed that its email client Gmail had beaten Hotmail to become the world’s largest email service with more than 425 million active users globally. Of course, many people have multiple accounts and the growth could be attributed to the popularity of Android phones, where users have to have a Google email account in order to access the Google Play app store.

However, there is no doubting the power and growth of Gmail is set to continue. How many of you have a Gmail account? As an email marketer, what considerations do you have to bear in mind when sending emails to Gmail inboxes? We’ve outlined the big four:

1. Gmail makes it easier to share content through Google+ integration

In April 2011, Gmail introduced a new feature allowing users to share inline images from emails with their Google+ networks. The upper right-hand corner of your Gmail account allows you to share a piece of content straight from your email inbox. 

In addition, if you have rich formatting enabled and receive an email with an inline image in it, you can hover around the visual and click on the “share” link, which syncs up to your Google+ profile. Make sure the content of your email is visually stimulating and contains useful content to increase the likelihood of sharing.

2. Gmail allows users to receive a report on their own email habits

Through a tool called Gmail Meter, Gmail account holders can receive a free monthly report showing statistics on email volume, daily traffic, traffic pattern, email categories, time before first response, thread lengths, word count, top senders and top recipients. 

From an email marketing perspective this gives your Gmail recipients more insight, and thus decision making power, of what topics are floating their boat each month and which emails are dying a death. Again, content is king here. A short and to the point subject line, engaging content and appealing email design, to a subscriber who has actively opt-ed in to receive your mailings in the first place can keep you in the inbox.

3. Gmail puts the most popular emails at the top of users’ inboxes

Priority Inbox is an intuitive inbox system that ranks emails in order or past popularity. It also includes an automatic sorting service that makes predictions for your Gmail users over time.

Again (there is a theme emerging here), ensure your list is one you have grown organically and the recipients have agreed to receive the info in the first place, use an engaging subject line and content in an attractive design. Users can mark emails as ‘Spam’ or ‘Not Spam’. The more a Gmail user opens, clicks through your email, stars it as important and marks it as ‘Not Spam’, the more likely your emails will start appearing more regularly in their inboxes. 

Gmail doesn’t provide much support for senders in terms of deliverability - no feedback loops, whitelists or disclosure of public blacklists.  Their filtering is based on its community's ability to determine whether email is spam or not. 

The only thing Gmail offers that may help offset complaints is the list-unsubscribe header which makes it easier for a user to request to be unsubscribed from your list. 

4. Understand your Gmail demographic 

According to, the majority of Gmail users are male, between 18-34, University-educated, politically liberal, single and childless. They live in cities, are well-travelled, career focussed and switched-on to digital technology. 

So now you know. How does this measure up to your own Gmail subscribers? If you are really keen, consider doing a split test on your list by pulling out the Gmail subscribers and changing up the imagery and language used to suit this demographic, to see if the theory helps improve the engagement of your emails.

Your views

Do you have specific tactics when targeting Gmail email recipients? If you have any Gmail tips you would like to share with your fellow email marketers, please add a comment below - we would love to hear your views!

First published as a guest blog post on White Hat Media

Sam Burrows
About the Author

Sam Burrows

Sam is the lead designer for little green plane. A key driving force within the design team, he ensures any email templates and landing pages designed for you are fresh and engaging, whilst adhering to best practice guidelines and your existing brand collateral.