90 million users (Larry Page), 100 million users (Paul Allen, Vic Gundotra via NYT), a decreasing 3.3 minutes share of social networking time in January (comScore via CNN) and so on. Those numbers fueled discussions about the status quo and the future of Google+. Wherever the truth lies – let’s assume that Google+ plays an important role in several sectors, like the tech scene. And let’s assume further that it will play a generally more important role in the near future. Especially email senders can benefit from the close integration with Gmail, regardless whether if it’s deliverability or social sharing. Below you find four tips on how to leverage this linkage to your advantage.
- Extend your email reach using G+ sharing buttons:
As with Pinterest and most of the other important networks, Google+ also allows email senders to incorporate sharing buttons within newsletter campaigns (see my last posting). A Google+ sharing button offers subscribers to share specific articles or the whole newsletter with their Google+ circles directly from within the email. For example, the German Direct Marketing Association (DDV) uses this to spread the word in the business world (see figure below). By the way, please don’t just dump those little sharing icons besides every content paragraph. In most scenarios this wouldn’t make too much sense (DDV is one exception 😉 ). Instead, pick something shareworthy and promote the function together with it. Why not e.g. put it below a good newsletter editorial with the call-to-action “comment & share on Google+” or something. In the end, it’s not just about sharing something mechanically but also about commenting it. Email marketing is not always about efficiency but sometimes also about creativity.
- Get more inbox attention with an avatar picture:
Since its latest “relaunch”, Gmail shows a sender’s profile picture in the conversational view and when hovering over emails in the inbox. That’s good for marketing – a recent Facebook study e.g. shows that profile pictures are emotionally activating. Gmail draws the avatars from the corresponding Google+ profile page of the email sender. The connection between sender and profile is established by specifying (and confirming) the email address (e.g. ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’) under ‘Work >> Email’ in a user’s profile (see figure, above right). Note that confirmed email addresses, which have been validated by clicking a link in a check mail from Google, are marked with a check mark. Now, connecting marketing emails with Google+ profile pages (and thus user pictures) is most powerful when focusing on persons as sender names instead of the brand. Obviously, Gmail intends to display the pictures only when assuming trusted personal communication. Think of authentication, adds to Google Contacts or generating replies. Below are three examples of what emails with profile pictures looks like in Gmail:
- Consider attaching a promotion flyer:
Yet another manifestation of the close integration between Gmail and Google+ is the option to directly share email attachments with your circles from within the email. The share button is integrated in the Gmail interface. And you know how much people enjoy pinning graphics to their boards these days (“Pinterest”). Below you see the regular newsletter of a Berlin foosball pub that promotes an upcoming tournament this way. However, when attaching images to your emails, keep in mind that this slows down download times for mobile users. Therefore, the attachment should be optimized for web (compression, color palette …) before sending out the campaign. You could additionally segment for Gmail recipients.
- Build your list from Pages and Profiles:
Unlike Facebook, which allows marketers to embed email signup forms as iFrame tabs on their pages, Google+ doesn’t offer anything like that. Instead, the only options to grow your list via Google+ are (1) to put a link to the form on your profile pages (“introduction” section and under “recommended links”) and (2) to promote the newsletter via your Google+ timeline every now and then. E.g. by referring to the last edition (“in case you missed …”) or by announcing the upcoming topic (“Next newsletter on x will cover y – sign up here”). But, although the possibilities are limited, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t realize them – on the contrary …