It’s a testament to the design chops of the Pinterest team that its look and layout have been adopted on so many commerce and design sites. And it’s probably a testament to our shortened attention spans that images tend to catch our attention much better than a line of text. Which is why I was thrilled to read about Gmail’s foray into visual email with its “promotions” tab.
First, even though I know marketers agonize and theorize and continuously optimize the subject line to attract more readers, it seems like they’ve all converged on a set of words that most of them believe work well. In my inbox it boils down to the word “hurry!” And let me tell you, nothing makes me delete an email faster than seeing “hurry” in the subject line. But anecdotal evidence aside, with all the optimization that is done, it’s still one line of text that tends to be over-optimized to the point where nothing sticks out and nothing gets me to open an email.
Second, the creative options available in an image are limitless and can really showcase the brand. The Gmail team demonstrated this with vacation images, fashion images, tantalizing food images and even a percentage off image. All of the images were way more compelling than their equivalent line of text.
Third, I love that users are allowed to choose between the traditional text mode and the tiled images. Even though I think the images are a brilliant addition to email I like that the option has been retained for users to go back to a text view.
Finally, I wonder what else can be done in Gmail. Seemingly a staid, predictable product, yet Google has proven that there is always room for innovation. Also, businesses say that email is the second most efficient marketing channel after social media so I’m sure they’d be interested in trying out anything that could improve response rates.
A parting thought: since social media is the number one channel and email is number two, wouldn’t it be interesting to merge the two? A lot would depend on what your friends shared but think about your friend’s Instagram of a product from a store you both love in your inbox instead of a generic one? A collage from a restaurant you both enjoy? A Vine from a show of a band you both like? Yep, there’s more to be done!