Inbox tabs may create challenges for nonprofit email marketing

With the release of Google's new inbox interface, nonprofits that send online donation requests through email have new concerns. The Gmail inbox is now broken into three tabs: primary, social and promotional. Most messages from retails and charitable foundations land in the promotional section, and many nonprofits worry their emails won't be seen, according to npENGAGE. All marketers want their emails to end up in the primary tab to be more visible, but Google also gives users the option to create more tabs, which allows them to hide emails from specific senders.

Fall is a busy season for nonprofits to solicit donations, so changes to email marketing are concerning. Gmail already has the most volatile open rates among email providers, which poses a challenge to nonprofit marketers. Rates can differ by one percent every month, MarketingProfs said. However, the separate tabs have not had a significant impact on open rates yet.

Some organizations have seen their Gmail open rates increase since the introduction of the tabs, npENGAGE stated. In many cases, variations in open rates may be simple fluctuations. The article suggested nonprofits keep an eye on open rates in the next few months to determine if the new tabs are significantly impacting the effectiveness of donation campaigns. Organizations that experienced a decrease in open rates recently saw a decline across the board, so it did not appear to be related to the tabs. 

The Gmail changes may require nonprofits to place a greater emphasis on establishing personal relationships with donors. Organizations need to focus on crafting high-quality subject lines that grab recipients' attention to improve open rates. The inbox tabs will not ruin email marketing campaigns, but organizations may need to improve their messages to maximize donations.

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