Gmail: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand… Opens?

gmail, subscriber, open rate, visual A funny thing happened on the way to my Gmail account this morning. Clicking on the Promotions tab — part of a redesign rolled out last year — I was surprised to see, not the usual text-based list of offers and invitations, but rather, the grid-based view above.

Three guesses which one caught my eye and got a click?

The change, which is being rolled out gradually, is more than just another iteration in Google’s email program; it’s further proof that the web is becoming an increasingly visual place. From devices (tablets) to websites (Pinterest, etc.) to entire operating systems (Windows 8), images are becoming the de facto mode of interaction. People respond well to them; they retain the information they receive through them, and they’re more likely to share them with others.

And if you maintain an email subscriber list, they can spell the difference between getting opened or ignored.

Images have the power to make a reader stop, pay attention, and give an email a second look, says Ron Cates, director of digital marketing education for Constant Contact. The new Gmail layout gives marketers the opportunity to really stand out and catch readers’ attention by keeping your images front and center.

And it’s not just Google. Last year, both Facebook and Twitter tweaked their formulas in ways designed to give photos more prominence. And rest assured, where Google, Facebook and Twitter go, others will follow. Doctors should too. After all, there are few things that speak more loudly to the power of photos than cosmetic surgery. And while you wouldn’t want to use a before and after series in an email promotion, a well-chosen image can be a powerful incentive for a subscriber to open your email rather than someone else’s. As Ben Davis of eConsultancy says,

If you’re not on the beautiful bandwagon of beautiful imagery, you’re missing out. Not using an image in grid view will mean ‘white space of death’ in the preview box.

Doctor Takeaway

If you want to be seen, think visual While Gmail’s grid view is currently in beta — click here to be included in the trial — it will inevitably roll out elsewhere. Working with your email service provider, check to see if you have Gmail subscribers, incorporate photos into your messages and, if you don’t have a Gmail account yourself, set one up so you can see how they render.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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