The new Google inbox for nonprofits
I’ve heard a fair amount of grumbling since Google started rolling out their new Inbox format a few months ago. (If you haven’t switched over or heard about it yet, here’s a nice overview by Techcrunch that will give you the gist fast.) Some folks don’t want Google telling them how to sort their email, while others are worried they’ll loose something important or, worse, that their important message will get lost in someone else’s inbox.
Odds are good that most emails sent by nonprofits will end up in the ‘promotions’ tab rather than in the ‘primary’ tab. That means a donor will have to deliberately click away from the inbox she spends most of their time managing to spot your year-end appeal emails, enews, or that digital petition you want her to sign. Sounds like a bummer, right?
Actually, I think the new inbox design will force many nonprofits to become better communicators, and that’s a good thing.
Since your email is now competing, literally side-by-side, with other organization’s messages, you’ll have to craft truly compelling subject lines (no more ‘October 2013 newsletter’ please!). You’ll also have to consistently provide meaningful content to win your reader’s attention and loyalty. Expect it to take a longer for them to read and click through, because they will be less likely to be reviewing their ‘promotions’ tab as frequently as their ‘primary’ tab.
But perhaps there’s also a silver lining. Many of the donors you want to reach are busy people who spend more time than they care to admit triaging their email. Their goal (and, if you admit it, yours too) is to reduce email clutter and reach the Holy Grail: Inbox Zero. With Google’s new inbox, your missive can dodge the delete key during a hectic workday and wait patiently for your reader, unnoticed when they are in search-and-destroy mode. Once your reader finds time to visit her ‘promotions’, my bet is that she will be more likely to actually read your attention-grabbing, high-content-delivering email. Let’s hope she’s got her credit card handy, too.