Last year, Google launched its new inbox for Gmail, which automatically organizes messages from social networks, deals and offers, receipts and other messages into a set of folders. Today, it is pushing this idea of specific inboxes for certain messages a bit further. For promotional messages like deals and offers — the kind you get from Airbnb, Etsy, TripAdvisor and others — users can now choose between seeing them in the regular inbox view, or as an image-heavy grid that bears little resemblance with what you expect an inbox to look like.
For the time being, this is just a field trial and you will have to opt in to it (and not everybody who opts in will get access right away).
Google says this will make it easier for users to find the kind of messages that will be most interesting to them “by giving them more to go on than just subject lines.” The new view will feature infinite scrolling to make scanning through many message easier, and if you are tired of the grid view, you can always switch back.
Senders who want their messages to get this image treatment don’t have to make any adjustments to their messages. They can, however, optionally specify which image and subject line they want to appear in the grid view using markup that is similar to the one Google uses for the action buttons it recently launched.
From what we have seen, advertisers can also use this to have the ads that often appear in the promotions inbox (the kind that almost look like emails) expand into larger ads in the grid view, too.
It’s no secret among email marketers that their open rates declined after Google introduced its new inbox. What will be interesting to watch now is how many users will opt in to this trial. While these kinds of promotional images aren’t all that annoying, few people are probably sitting around and waiting for them to arrive.