Why Google’s Personal tab could be the best thing to ever happen to email marketers

Accord­ing to reports, Google recent­ly exper­i­ment­ed with allow­ing users to fil­ter search­es by per­son­al results like infor­ma­tion that could be pulled from a Gmail account if said user was logged in while search­ing. And then, just like that, the fea­ture dis­ap­peared. A...

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Accord­ing to reports, Google recent­ly exper­i­ment­ed with allow­ing users to fil­ter search­es by per­son­al results like infor­ma­tion that could be pulled from a Gmail account if said user was logged in while search­ing. And then, just like that, the fea­ture dis­ap­peared.

A Google spokesper­son said, “We are always exper­i­ment­ing with ways to make Google search more use­ful for our users. At this time, we have no fur­ther plans to announce.”

For its part, Search Engine Land likened the fea­ture to Google’s Search Plus Your World, which sur­faced in 2012 and “has come out from time to time since then.”

Per­son­al­iza­tion has long been part of the over­all Google search expe­ri­ence, which taps into data like loca­tion and search his­to­ry to deliv­er the most rel­e­vant results for each user. But as Google faces strong com­pe­ti­tion from oth­er plat­forms in voice and visu­al search, it has a vest­ed inter­est in fur­ther­ing its mis­sion of ensur­ing the best pos­si­ble user expe­ri­ence. And a Per­son­al-tab-like fea­ture may be a key to doing just that – and it could breathe new life into the email mar­ket­ing indus­try at the same time.

Even more personal

Indeed, Peter Oles­son, founder of SEO ser­vice provider SEO Vena­tor, said a Per­son­al tab extends Google’s efforts, mak­ing the search expe­ri­ence even more per­son­al, accu­rate and con­ve­nient com­pared to oth­er search engines.

Ahmed Khal­i­fa, direc­tor of Word­Press con­sul­tan­cy and train­ing firm Ignite­Rock, agreed it’s anoth­er way for Google to per­son­al­ize a user’s search expe­ri­ence.

There are a cou­ple of exam­ples that this could be used for. If you have recent­ly ordered a new Playsta­tion 4 and want to know your order details, you can search for ‘Playsta­tion 4’ or ‘PS4’ on Google, switch to the Per­son­al tab [and] you will be able to see results which will list your order details, pre­sum­ably from your con­nect­ed Gmail account,” Khal­i­fa said. “[Or] if you have pur­chased a [trip] to New York and [are] look­ing for your itin­er­ary, your Per­son­al tab will list the emails that men­tion New York and you will find your itin­er­ary with­in Google.”

Oles­son sur­mised Per­son­al tab results could also include infor­ma­tion about, say, recipes due to recent search behav­ior.

How­ev­er, Bob Clary, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing at soft­ware train­ing com­pa­ny Devel­op­In­tel­li­gence, said he thinks a Per­son­al tab is less about search result per­son­al­iza­tion and more about “Google attempt­ing to be the hub for all your activ­i­ty,” adding, “For a while now, Google has been pulling bits from Gmail into your search results like your flight infor­ma­tion, and this seems to be an expan­sion on that.”

And David Erick­son, vice pres­i­dent of pub­lic rela­tions at PR firm Kar­wos­ki & Courage, said it’s pos­si­ble this func­tion­al­i­ty could extend beyond Gmail and Google Pho­tos to include YouTube and Google Docs as well.

Ryan Raplee, CEO of Legal InSites, a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm focused on lawyers and law firms, agreed Google Dri­ve search­ing is like­ly “well under­way in devel­op­ment.”

Email marketers, rejoice (potentially)

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, a fea­ture that pulls direct­ly from email has the most poten­tial impact for email mar­keters.

Right now, email mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ists don’t have a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties to be heаrd and seen — [you’re] just send­ing let­ters and they may get lost in your cus­tomers’ inbox­es,” said Yulia Khans­vyaro­va, head of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing soft­ware firm SEM­rush. “Even if a cus­tomer is still inter­est­ed in your pro­pos­al, he or she is spammed by great amount of irrel­e­vant emails and can…lose [an] impor­tant one. [If a Per­son­al tab is imple­ment­ed], as far as I under­stand, cus­tomers who look, for exam­ple, for [a] new dress will be able to find rel­e­vant [emails] from…online stores.”

Erick­son agreed a Per­son­al tab makes it much more con­ve­nient to find email con­tent.

While Gmail has sophis­ti­cat­ed native search capa­bil­i­ties, I imag­ine most peo­ple do not take advan­tage of them. Help­ing peo­ple find their own emails through a search inter­face with which they are already very famil­iar will like­ly increase the fre­quen­cy with which peo­ple search their [inbox­es],” Erick­son added. “I per­son­al­ly sub­scribe to a lot of newslet­ters and I often email myself arti­cles and web­sites so I can find them lat­er. For peo­ple who use their inbox as I do, adding the Per­son­al tab makes it much eas­i­er and more con­ve­nient for me to retrieve that con­tent when I need it.”

As a result, Khal­i­fa said mar­keters have yet anoth­er rea­son to make sure their emails and newslet­ters are read­able and con­tain schema.org, a markup vocab­u­lary that can be embed­ded into email mar­ket­ing and pro­vides data to help improve user engage­ment via Google.

This will make sure that the infor­ma­tion is more avail­able to Google and this will add to the consumer’s Google expe­ri­ence,” Khal­i­fa added.

Indeed, Erick­son said if the fre­quen­cy of users search­ing their inbox­es increas­es, the Per­son­al tab will like­ly cre­ate more engage­ment with email newslet­ters as users find this con­tent more fre­quent­ly.

Email mar­keters should now think like search engine opti­miz­ers by con­sid­er­ing what are the like­ly queries some­one might use in the Per­son­al tab in rela­tion to their con­tent,” he added.

Better ads, too

In addi­tion, Erick­son said a Per­son­al tab means search adver­tis­ing based on email inbox search­es has the poten­tial to get much bet­ter.

The ads in Gmail are tiny com­pared to the much greater screen real estate and more pow­er­ful fea­tures of Google AdWords ads that you [could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly] place in the Per­son­al tab,” he said.

Raplee agreed mar­keters would have a new way to get high­ly tar­get­ed ads in front of users with intent.

And Oles­son said he sees poten­tial in Google using this infor­ma­tion for future retar­get­ing pur­pos­es as well.

Ryan Kh, CEO of Smart­Da­ta Col­lec­tive, which calls itself “an edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent, mod­er­at­ed com­mu­ni­ty pro­vid­ing enter­prise lead­ers access to the lat­est trends in busi­ness intel­li­gence and data man­age­ment,” too, said he expects Google will allow mar­keters to use this data to tar­get cus­tomers by gen­der, age and oth­er demo­graph­ic vari­ables.

These options are already avail­able, but they haven’t been very accu­rate,” he said. “They will be much more accu­rate if it can con­nect with Google accounts to learn more about the users. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is some­thing Google has yet to con­firm.”

In addi­tion, Kh said he thinks Google will start to make edu­cat­ed deci­sions about user inter­ests and oth­er behav­ior, but he not­ed “the accu­ra­cy of those options may leave a lot to be desired for the first cou­ple of years.”

Not every­one is so opti­mistic about a poten­tial Per­son­al tab.

If it works, it could rep­re­sent a fun­da­men­tal change in the way that peo­ple use Google,” Clary said. “My pre­dic­tion, how­ev­er, is that peo­ple won’t accept the func­tion­al­i­ty and it’ll even­tu­al­ly go away.”

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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