Gmail Grid ViewGoogle has made waves again in the email marketing world with the new “grid view” for the Gmail Promotions tab. This image-heavy layout will display thumbnail pictures for each message in a Pinterest-like framework. For email marketers, this can be a great opportunity to grab the recipient’s attention with a captivating image that previews the message contents. If you combine the image preview with a strong subject line, you have the ingredients for increased open rates and engagement.

Gmail will automatically choose an image from the contents of the message, but you can designate a specific image to appear with your email by adding a small piece of code. Identifying the image is especially important if your message is text-heavy or if it includes smaller graphics. The required dimensions are at least 580 x 400 pixels, and it can be saved as a JPG or GIF. Gmail will resize larger images, but it is probably best to stick to these dimensions.

Once you have the image designed and uploaded, just overwrite the blue text in the code below with your image URL and then copy all three lines into the HTML of your message.

<div itemscope itemtype=”“>

<link itemprop=”image” href=”INSERT FULL URL HERE“/>


Additionally, grid view also includes a link and image for a Google+ page associated with the sender. This is part of Google’s on-going efforts to build engagement on their social network. If your business has a Google+ profile, this can be a valuable tool for cross-channel marketing. If you don’t use Google+ for your business, you might want to consider establishing a presence. You can read how to setup the Gmail/Google+ connection here.

Finally, Gmail has provided some details on optimal sender and subject lengths. They recommend keeping the sender name under 20 characters and using a subject line that is no longer than 75 characters. Staying within these limits will ensure your email is viewed correctly within the new layout.

What do you think of grid view? Do you think other email services like Yahoo or Outlook will follow Gmail’s lead and add a visual-driven inbox setting?

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

Twice a month, we review the top marketing tips, news stories, and opinion pieces from around the web and share them in our newsletter. In this post, we will share a few of the most popular links related to email, social media, and online marketing from our January, February, and March editions.

Email Marketing:

Social Media:

Online Marketing:

If you would like to receive our newsletter (sent twice a month), you can sign-up here.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

Facebook recently marked its 10 year anniversary in February 2014. The social network has come a long way since it’s early days, and it continues to be a major player worldwide.

Bloomberg produced an interesting segment on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of social media. You may have seen the movie The Social Network, but this video provides an additional perspective on Zuckerberg and the website. If you haven’t seen the clip, it is definitely worth watching.

As an added bonus, here is a brief history of Facebook from Mashable. This video highlights all of the major dates and achievements from the social network’s first decade.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

In December 2013, Google announced that images within emails would be displayed automatically for all Gmail users, regardless of whether or not they clicked “Display Images Below.” Google will now cache images and serve them through their own secure proxy servers to protect users from viruses or malware that could be associated with externally hosted images. The change was also made to speed up the open time for each message and make the user experience more consistent with mobile email.

How will this impact email marketing?

The biggest change for marketers will be with unique open rate data for Gmail messages. Since the image cache will only serve the first image, email marketers will only be able to track unique opens for Gmail users.

Google says the change will have a positive impact on open rates since marketers will no longer have to depend on users both opening the message and loading the images. This may in fact lead to Gmail open rates increasing, as well as boosting total opens.

However, while open rates may increase, Gmail will no longer be sending the IP address information of their users, effectively limiting the amount of data collected from opens. Tracking geolocation and whether users view it on mobile, desktop or web could prove to be a challenge.

Gmail is reported to have over 425 million users, so this change is definitely worth noting, especially if it starts a trend within the email industry. It also means email marketers should focus on the appearance of their design more than ever. Gmail recipients will no longer have to click to see images, so the message will be front and center upon first viewing. Placing emphasis on email best practices and strong email design can help you maximize the increased visibility and make a great first impression.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

emailchart1If you’ve been sending the same email messages to your list and have noticed a decline in performance, it might be time to consider a few changes to reignite the response.

Simple A/B testing can identify elements within the email campaign that can be improved or adjusted to boost overall performance. These changes can optimize your content and jump start your marketing efforts.

Here are some good examples of things you can test within your email marketing strategy:

  • Message subject lines: Shorter vs. Longer? Question vs. Urgency?
  • Text copy: Wording, fonts, headline, length
  • Design elements: Colors, images, buttons, layout
  • Send time: Afternoon vs. Morning?
  • List segmentation: Location, activity, time zone
  • Call-to-action: Wording, placement, size, visibility
  • Day of send: Weekday vs. Weekend?

You can also add personal customizations like First Name and Birthday messages to provide additional relevancy. If you’re sending clicks to a landing page, be sure to test elements on there as well.

Whether you’re looking at one item or larger, multi-layered changes, testing can keep your email content fresh, relevant, and better positioned for continued success. Even minor changes can have a big impact, but you’ll never know unless you test.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

Much like a company website, business pages on social networks are an excellent tool for brand positioning and marketing. In fact, there are studies that show that consumers value a brand’s social media presence more than their website. Social networks give businesses a chance to interact with these users, provide valuable product details, contribute to SEO methods, attract new customers, and build loyalty through direct communication.

Here are a few things businesses can incorporate into their social media strategy to engage consumers, enhance branding, and position themselves for new leads.

  • Polls, Questions, and Consumer Feedback
    Social networks provide a valuable opportunity for crowdsourcing and focus group-style research. By posting questions, conducting surveys, and encouraging user contributions, you can easily collect data that can be used to shape your marketing campaigns.
  • Exclusive offers for followers
    If you have discount prices, exclusive specials, or free items to giveaway, these can all be perfect for your social media followers.
  • Contests and content submissions
    You can drive engagement using things like contests, scavenger hunts, promotions, and caption contests using Facebook apps, Pinterest boards, Twitter hashtags, Instagram photos, and more.
  • Newsletter sign-ups and Emails
    If you have an email newsletter, providing an app on your Facebook page is a great way to drive sign-ups and find new readers. Including social media icons in your emails and encouraging readers to follow your pages also helps drive traffic from email and integrate the two channels.
  • Video Highlights
    87% of marketers in the United States use video for content marketing. Video features are a fun way for businesses to showcase items or provide a look behind the scenes. YouTube channels, Facebook apps, and mobile apps like Vine are all worth looking into if you have content that would lend itself well to visual display.

It’s important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to be on every social network. Identifying which channel is the best fit for your company will save time and provide better results for outreach methods.

Sure, the popularity of any one social network may shift, and trends may steer users to the next big thing, but the social medium as a whole shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. The influence and scope of social media ensures that it is likely here to stay. Businesses can take advantage of this channel by incorporating smart, interesting, and valuable contributions to the online discourse.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

Foursquare seems to be one of those social networks that people either love or hate. The idea of check-ins, collecting badges, pursuing Mayorships, and sharing your location may not be for everyone, but the popularity among mobile users seems to be maintaining a steady growth.

According to Nielsen’s “Social Media Report 2012,” Foursquare has 10.4 million active monthly mobile users. That represents roughly 42% of everyone who has downloaded the app. The report also notes that Foursquare ranks only behind Facebook (78 million) and Twitter (23 million) in terms of monthly mobile users. The report did not include Instagram, but given the recent popularity of the photo sharing app it could be possible that Foursquare ranks behind that as well. Even if you add Instagram to the ranks, Foursquare still claims a solid foothold within the top four most popular social apps.

Foursquare is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for local businesses to attract customers and connect with check-in specials, mayor discounts, and other location-based promotions. It is also becoming a valuable resource for finding reviews, recommendations, and suggestions for local venues, similar to Yelp, Google Places, and other popular geo-social networks.

Foursquare also gives businesses the chance to boost their SEO, help their search rankings, and create a digital presence with little to no additional money needed for search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing campaigns. It’s free to create a business page, and Foursquare offers a multitude of valuable analytics and marketing tools once it verifies the owner. Businesses can develop brand advocacy, repeat visits and increased sales through simple interaction with consumers using the mobile app.

It’s worth nothing that users can also create Foursquare locations for businesses if one is not already setup, so even if a business isn’t using Foursquare they may still have customers checking into their location. This underscores the value of claiming the location, building a presence, and embracing this popular social network to enhance business operations.

is Director of Digital Strategy and Design for Paramount Communication Group. Adam is a Certified E-Marketer (CEM) and a Certified E-Marketing Analyst (CEA). Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHubka.

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