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Will Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” decimate email marketing?

on August 31, 2010

When Google announces new news, you can’t avoid it. There’s nothing you can do about it. When they’ve got a new product it’s always the lead story. Well, no exception with the announcement of Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” which is supposed to handle the much complained about problem of email/information overload.

Related: Why did Google get into the realtime search game? Register for a free copy of the report “Real-Time Search and Discovery of the Social Web” (20-page PDF). Read a summary of the report.

On the onset the product sounds fantastic. Just give me the good stuff first and you can put all my other email in a secondary pile. But wasn’t that what the spam folder was? It was a mixture of true spam, and also every now and then a valid email would get tossed in there. The problem is you’d check your spam folder at most once every couple of weeks. And “giving a glance” is the most attention you would give to it.

The new spam folder

How soon will it take before this secondary folder is treated with the same respect as your spam folder? As more and more information comes in more stuff will be relegated to the secondary folder never to be looked at again. We already do this today. How many of you have an “I’ll look at it later” folder? And how often have you looked at that folder? Should be called an “I’ll look at it never” folder.

Are your gears turning already? Have you seen the obvious? This could put an end to email marketing. All email marketing will fall into this “I’ll look at it later” folder which will soon be viewed as a secondary spam filter. And could Google start prioritizing some email themselves? Maybe messages sent by Google Apps customers? They say that they don’t descriminate, but why is it I see YouTube videos with thumbnails before I see any other videos on Google Search results?

If I was an email marketing firm I’d be watching Google with an extremely close eye.

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