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A new feature in Gmail, Grid View, is generating lots of buzz among email marketers, despite the fact that it is only in trial at the moment. We discuss what Google could gain from adopting it and how it could affect our world.

Google announced yesterday that it’s testing a new feature in Gmail – a more visual grid view of the Promotions tab. This has caused a bit of a stir  – what effect could it have on email marketing? Let’s take a step back and think about the reasons behind this feature and how it can impact marketers and brands.

What could Google gain?

If we look at the image Google published on their blog, the first ’email’ in the Gmail grid view isn’t an email at all. It’s an advert – which would bring direct revenue. The ‘Ad’ symbol is quite subtle which may trick some consumers into thinking it is a genuine email. If this is the case, the click-through rates could start out quite high, but it’s likely users will develop an immunity to it.

Screenshot of Gmail grid view

Another aspect hides in the way the Gmail grid view works. The sender can choose the main image using a tag, or by default it’s pulled by Google algorithms from the content of the email. However, the sender’s logo comes from the GooglePlus certified brand page. It’s a no-brainer that Google is trying to gain as many users of its social platform as possible. And with this particular feature, it could encourage more brands to get on board.

Where does that leave marketers?

The grid view will make it more important than ever that visual and textual elements support each other. That doesn’t always mean they should have the exact message, but that they should tell the same story. This means the Creative department will have more of a say, it’s not only in the power of the subject line to drive open-rates.

Also, the visual nature of Gmail’s grid view will make more of a statement in an environment that can be text-heavy. In this way, users might check their Promotions tab just to break the monotony of checking their emails. And so we need to make sure these emails shine. If they do, they could make more of an impact, perhaps increasing brand recognition.

All this could generate important changes in the way marketers structure emails. But we shouldn’t forget two things: not all our customers are Gmail users, and this feature is not yet rolled out.

Yet, this news raises some good points about some ways to improve the visual aspects of the inbox.

For more trends in the email marketing world, why not have a look at the

7 Super Exciting Predictions for Boring Old Email Marketing in 2014‘ Webinar?