Does The Latest Gmail Update (December 2023) Mean The End Of Your Email Marketing?
Is the latest Gmail update (December 2023) going to kill your email marketing for good? Everyone's reacting to this update like it's the big apocalypse of email marketing. But is that true? Let's talk about whether this update does or doesn't affect you, and how you can go about it.
Ready to find out the honest truth about this?
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: (0:15) Want a FREE resource to get more clicks on your emails? Check out Click Tricks. (4:09) The latest Google update - what is it all about? (7:50) Let's talk about your email deliverability. (8:49) Hard bounces and your sender's reputation. (11:01) What can we do about the latest Google update? (12:35) Don't make any decisions based on your open rates. (14:27) Google isn't trying to kill your email marketing! (15:59) It's all about those clicks! (17:53) Subject line of the week.
The latest Google update – what is it all about?
Gmail is making a technical change, which, on the surface, is going to be the death of email marketing. Again! There’s going to be a lot of email marketing chaos at the back of this Gmail policy that's to be enforced from the 1st of December 2023. Google rolled it out into their new terms in July 2023, when they announced that any Gmail account that hasn’t been logged into for two years will be deleted.
So what does this mean? First thing first, the impact of this change might not be as big as you think because “logged in” could also mean that people are using their Google Calendar or Google Drive, for example. And as long as they are, even if they're not accessing their Gmail, their accounts will stay. Only truly dormant accounts will be deleted.
And that’s fair enough because these could be email addresses that people created for a particular project or business venture and then either never used them, or they stopped checking them at some point. Why are they being deleted? Because all these accounts take up a lot of space on Google servers, so a clean-up exercise is now in order. You can imagine that renting space out for free to people on the Internet is expensive, so Google is cutting some costs and trying to become more efficient. And that's not a bad thing!
Let's talk about your email deliverability
So let's talk about why this could be an issue for some people. If you've been in our world for a while, you'll know that one of the things we always talk about is that the technical side of email deliverability is not all that important. It's not weighted that heavily when it comes to most of us day-to-day – not for marketers who have email lists of the size we or our clients have.
What truly matters when it comes to email deliverability is engagement management, which has to do with making sure you’re not emailing people who aren’t real accounts or who haven’t opened or engaged with your emails in some time.
Hard bounces and your sender's reputation
When the Google update kicks in in December, if you're still sending emails to accounts that Google has now deleted, your emails will hard bounce. Your email platform is going to send emails out to these deleted addresses, and your emails are going to hit a stone wall and bounce back again. And that's bad for your sender's reputation, yes.
But it's only bad if you've been emailing these accounts all along regardless of the fact these people weren't engaging with your emails! If these people were on your list and hadn't used their Gmail in two years, surely they hadn't been clicking on the links in your email for a long time (if ever).
So when it comes to your sender's reputation, this was already a bad scenario for you. But from now on, with these addresses completely deleted, you're going to see a much stronger message coming back to your domain reputation. Once the update kicks in in December, if you keep emailing these accounts, you'll hit a brick wall.
But the truth is that this isn't affecting the number of people you're actually reaching with your email marketing – your reach is no different! All that’s happening is that you’re going to see the people who don’t exist anymore in a much firmer and more solid way. But even before the Google update, these people weren’t listening. So if you think about the goal of getting your message through to people, you simply weren’t!
What can we do about the latest Google update?
So how can we all prepare for these changes? If you’ve been in any of our programmes or followed our work, you’ll know about our engagement monitoring method. We talk about it more in the episode called How To Create THE Most Successful Re-Engagement Email Campaign (And Smash Your Sales Targets).
If someone’s not clicked on a link in the last 60 days, we’re going to put them through a 14-day re-engagement campaign called the LOL Revival sequence. And if people don't re-engage with our emails during that period by clicking on one of our links, we stop sending them emails altogether. We remove the tag they’re under and take them out of the segment they’re in. We take them out of our list.
Before we even do that, we tend to watch new subscribers closely, especially in the first 14 days of joining our list. Because if they don't engage or click any of the links in your emails, we don't even put them into a revival sequence. We don't even give them a second chance!
Don't make any decisions based on your open rates
It's worth pointing out here that the decision to stop emailing someone and remove them from our list entirely is based on clicks – not on open rates. Why? Because as we keep saying, open rate data is incorrect and inconsistent. It's dependent on the device, the browser, the email client and service, what spam protection and firewalls people have on their system, etc. There are many variables that can show that emails are being opened when they're not and vice versa. So we make decisions based on whether people click on the links in our emails. And if someone hasn't clicked on a link for over 60 days, we put them through our LOL Revival re-engagement sequence.
This means we’re already taking care of the hygiene of our email list, and when Google deletes accounts that have had no activity for two years, we’ll have already identified them on the basis of 60 days of not clicking on the links in our emails. We’re ahead of the curve because we make sure we have the best engagement and the best deliverability to our audience.
This means the latest Google update isn't going to affect us. And it's not going to affect any of our students either – because they're following the same process. We don't need to worry about this at all – we're making zero changes to our business because we already have a strong engagement monitoring protocol in place. And so do the members of The League.
Google isn't trying to kill your email marketing!
It’s easy to look at the latest Google update out of context and start panicking. On the surface, it may seem like Google is trying to make email marketing difficult for people. But they’re not! They're trying to make it better for the people sending emails and for those receiving them. And so are we! We're all on the same page here.
They’re trying to create a better customer experience for their users. Ultimately what they want (and what other email platforms want) is to make sure people continue to use them. So they're not trying to make it hard for marketers to send emails – they just want it done in the right way. They want you to email the right email addresses, and you should want that too! That’s definitely what we want. So we're all going in the same direction here.
And the people who are moaning and whining about these updates are those who do email marketing the lazy way. They’re building a list of people and bashing them over the head regardless of who these people are and what they’re doing. They’re using dirty tactics to grow their lists, and that's exactly what we’re trying to eliminate.
It's all about those clicks!
So the big thing you have to do in light of the latest Gmail update is to monitor the clicks on the links in your emails. Of course, you can only do that if you include enough links in your emails in the first place. If you're not, start now. Because if you don't include enough links, you're not giving people the opportunity to click and engage. So increase the frequency of your emails and make sure there’s something people can click on because that's critical for engagement monitoring.
Also, find different ways to dress up the links in your emails. If you always use the traditional “click here”, people will soon develop what we call link blindness. They'll stop seeing and reading certain things in your emails because they always look the same. So always try interesting, quirky, novel, and attention-grabbing ways of dressing up your links and call-to-actions.
That’s the exact reason why we put together our resource Click Tricks, which is about interesting ways of dressing up the links in your emails to make sure more people are clicking and engaging. In turn, that will keep your deliverability monitoring really high. So go and grab Click Tricks for free!
Subject line of the week
This week’s subject line is “[First Name] and Goliath.” So if your name was Karen, your subject line would be “Karen and Goliath.” We think this is a really interesting subject line. You can take any traditional story, or a film name here (something that’s well-known) and change it over to something that’s relevant to the person you're sending the email to, such as their first name. So check it out!
Useful Episode Resources
FREE list to improve your email marketing
If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here.
Join our FREE Facebook group
If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.
Try ResponseSuite for $1
This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.
Join The League Membership
Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.
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