Gmail updateGoogle have had a productive year when it comes to email. They scared marketers half to death with the introduction of their tabbed inbox (fret not!) and have spent a fairly significant amount of time refining Gmail, their popular webmail service.

I say ‘popular’… last year, they finally became the world’s largest email provider when the internet giant announced it had 425 million Gmail users, putting them ahead of the likes of Yahoo! and Hotmail. It therefore goes without saying that any change they make to their system has pretty wide consequences and, as marketers, we should pay close attention to them.

The good news is Gmail’s latest round of DIY is very positive stuff indeed.

Today, we’ll take a look at the key changes.

A cleaner login

If you have a Gmail account – or any Google account, for that matter – you may be familiar with the often complicated manner in which you were expected to login. Not the login process itself – just finding it! When you did eventually find it, the page was adorned with more than just the login section, often confusing users. Now, Google has opted for a single login for all of their products and have implemented a brand new design of their login page. It looks great:

Gmail login

And that’s it! Clean, simple and inviting.

New iPad app

Google appears to have been busy with its iOS app as Apple have been with iOS itself. The new version of the Gmail iPad app is here and it looks fantastic:

Gmail iPad app

It seems to perform best in landscape mode, where Google have introduced a collapsed navigation bar which gives far more room for the selected inbox and message to breath. The left-hand bar enables you to easily switch between the tabbed inboxes.

However, flip the iPad into portrait mode, and you’re presented with a full-screen version of the email you are viewing. Get your email marketing right, and it will now really shine on iPads when Gmail is the client on the receiving end.

New app switcher

This isn’t specifically email-related, but it is important. Users can now quickly switch between Google apps by clicking a little menu item at the top-right of the browser screen:

Google App switcher

This means, if nothing else, that their email account is never too far away. Whether they’re watching videos on YouTube, composing a document in Drive or simply checking out their next destination on Google Maps, they’ll be able to head back to their inbox whenever they fancy checking their email.

Handwriting

Google has always supported a wide range of languages, but if you need to switch languages, it can be a bit of pain to keep changing regional settings. Now, you can simply write characters using your mouse or trackpad. Google will then convert them to text on the screen:

Google handwriting

Once again, not entirely email-related, but if your subscribers’ first language isn’t English and they want to respond quickly to your latest e-shot without having to change their keyboard from Spanish to English, this feature could come in handy.

Action buttons

We like this one. Gmail can now place ‘action buttons’ to the right of each email’s subject line. It does so by scanning the contents of the email, looking for pertinent information such as dates or product information. The action button will then allow users to complete tasks based on that information. An obvious use of this would be to review a recent purchase, place a booking with a hotel or make note of an event in the diary:

Gmail action button

Attachments direct to Google Drive

The user interface for attachment management in Gmail has seen one of the biggest overhauls. Google App fanatics will be delighted to hear that you can now download attachments directly to Google Drive, avoiding the often nightmarish scenario of saving them somewhere locally on the computer, only to forget where that somewhere was. It is even possible to send files to specific folders within Drive.

I certainly hope Google continues to innovate with Gmail and its surrounding app brothers and sisters. The more they are integrated, and the easier they are to use, the more engagement we are likely to see from those Gmail users subscribing to our email marketing campaigns.

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Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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