Over time, email marketing has proven itself to be a highly effective tool for salon owners. However, recent changes by Google regarding the way that email is filtered now threaten this success. By diverting promotional emails into what are essentially spam folders, Google is forcing salon owners and stylists to actively ask clients to re-categorize emails in order for these promotions to even be seen.
Ever since the beginning of summer, Google has started a new system of organization for Gmail inboxes. Rather than using one, main inbox as it did before, Gmail now has separate folders that filter different types of mail, including categories for social media, e-commerce or promotions, and a primary inbox reserved for personal email.
According to Valorie Reavis, digital marketing expert and member of Linkup Marketing, this spells trouble for salon owners. She explains that the new system "means commercial emails will be classified effectively as spam, and sifted into a separate inbox. Salon and spa owners’ worries that no one will check their promotions inbox, missing all those fabulous offers and latest news are well founded." It is highly likely that, because of the way Gmail is being reorganized, consumers will never see promotional emails from salons. As Reavis states, "Google is the largest email provider, with half a billion active Gmail users worldwide. Many salon clients will be using Gmail accounts, so these changes could prove difficult for salons who have email marketing as an essential part of their marketing mix."
Although the transition to separate folders for different types of email has been praised by some as an effective way for individuals to filter out promotions from their important, personal messages, it leaves salons struggling to figure out the best way to have their emails seen. The only viable option to avoid having important promotions filtered out into customers' unseen inboxes, is to try to convince clients to re-categorize salon emails.
For the moment, this change is limited mainly to Gmail, but as Reavis emphasizes, there's no telling if other email providers will soon follow suit. According to Reavis, in order "to avoid being marginalized, salons must ask clients to move the most recent message out of the promotions inbox and into the primary one. If they do this just once, then all future emails will appear in this inbox and will have less risk of being missed." She advises that stylists work "this into any dialogue about promotions at the front desk and in the chair to make clients aware of the importance of special offers received in their email. Salons could even consider adding exclusive email offers that salon clients can only get if they are receiving (and reviewing) salon emails."
For now, clients using any email service besides Gmail will not be affected by these changes. However, Reavis encourages salons to keep in mind that Google is a major email provider, and to be proactive in making sure that clients are not missing important promotions.