Back in May, Google announced a new tab layout for the Gmail inbox. The company didn’t start rolling the feature out to everyone until mid-July.
The new tabbed interface gives users control over their content by grouping emails under specific topics. For example, notifications from social services like Facebook or Twitter are now automatically sorted under the “Social” tab, while offers from merchants reside under “Promotions.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ENROLLMENT MARKETING?
It’s too early to tell precisely how Gmail’s new layout will impact email marketing conducted by colleges and universities. However, we are watching the data closely. We expect some change, but there isn’t enough data yet to determine how much the new inbox will affect marketing efforts.
In the short term, I don’t think that this change will have significant impact on search marketing responses. However, this update is indicative of a well-established, long-term trend towards engaging, student-centric, inbound (read: social media, content, data) marketing. Consumers and students have long had the power to control their content and the inbox is a natural place to raise the barrier between the student and marketers.
HOW CAN YOU ADAPT TO THESE CHANGES?
1) Gmail is not the only game in town. Yahoo and AOL still represent a significant portion of email addresses in student lists. These changes will not affect the response rates for those students who use email software other than Gmail.
2) Search email marketing is just one tool in your toolbox. Students are
engaging with school websites long before they take the SAT or ACT. You can embrace this trend by producing and monitoring social content that is applicable to your students (current and prospective).
3) Also, take advantage of the responses you do have by incorporating Remarketing into your online strategy. Remarketing allows you to reach people who have already visited your site. It makes sense to spend more time on the students who have shown interest already instead of focusing exclusively on those with whom you are just developing a relationship.
These changes from Google will certainly impact Enrollment Marketing, but the jury is still out on exactly how and to what extent. We are analyzing response data so that we can adapt to the shifting technology landscape. In the meantime, there are several tactics that you can adopt to stay up with trends.