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If, like me, you have an unhealthy interest in HTML emails, you will have noticed that Google (who run one of the biggest free email services on the planet) have helpfully decided to take ‘promotional’ emails – along with ones sent from social networks – out of your Gmail inbox and file them away in a new ‘promotions’ tab. At first glance, this appears to be a pain in the bum for anyone using HTML emails to flog anything, and that, of course, includes musicians (who probably send more promotional emails to unsuspecting members of the public than MPs, religious zealots and attractive ladies from exotic countries with large inheritances to share combined). Thanks to Google’s changes, your band’s beautifully designed HTML e-newsletter is now rotting in the promotions tab, meaning that your biggest fan(s) will forget all about you (leaving only the NSA to read your emails). Right? Well not quite. There are a few things you can do about this.

1. Warn punters about the 'promotions' tab when they are subscribing to your e-newsletter

Place some copy on your sign up form, confirmation email and ‘thank you for subscribing’ page asking people to add your e-newsletters to their ‘primary inbox’ in Google. This is a simple case of the user looking for one of your emails, right clicking on it and choosing ‘Move to tab > Primary’; after that, all emails from you – providing you send them from the same email laddress as the first one – will go into the primary Gmail inbox.

2. Make existing fans aware of the situation

Use other communications channels available to you – for example, your website, social media presences or even stage patter at your gigs – to let your fans know that Google have hidden your band e-newsletters and where to find them. Again, you can explain the ‘move to tab’ business to them so that they can get all your emails safely in future.

3. Mention the Gmail issue in every email you send out

Add a little piece of copy in each email you send out informing people how to ensure their email turns up in the right Gmail inbox. That means that if your fans are pootling about in their ‘promotions’ inbox, and happen to open your email, they can observe your sage words of advice and take action to ensure your e-newsletters go into their primary inbox in future.

4. Concentrate on creating great content

If your emails are along the lines of ‘hey John, the band just had bagels for breakfast and please come to our overpriced gig tonight’ then it doesn’t really matter what Gmail tab they end up in: they are not going to be read all that often, and certainly not enjoyed. Basically, you should be aiming to create content so great that if your fans notice it’s not in their inbox, they will wonder why, and go nosing around for it. Creating a great newsletter always boils down to offering something of benefit to the fan in each email – be that a really interesting blog post, a free track, a 2-4-1 gig ticket deal or a video. You should only ever send an e-newsletter if you are in a position to offer something of value. Otherwise don’t send it.

Ultimately, of the above 4 tips, the fourth is potentially the most important. If your newsletters are genuinely of interest, Gmail users will miss them if they suddenly disappear – and my hunch is that they will use their noggins and look for them in the promotions tab. So, in a weird way, Google might have all done us musicians a favour...by reminding us that if we want people to read our e-newsletters, they’ve got to be good in the first place – regardless of which inbox in cyberspace they end up.

See also

Article by Chris Singleton, Head of Digital Communications at Prescription PR

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