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What is a smart inbox?

September 11, 2012

Do you have a smart inbox? The likely hood is that if your email is with Gmail, Hotmail (now Outlook.com), Yahoo! or AOL then yes.
How do they work?

Well Gmail’s priority inbox measures how users interact with emails from different senders and whether or not they should be considered a priority. Usually emails from friends and colleagues are flagged at top of the inbox.

Hotmail, Yahoo! and AOL all reward known sender status and positive engagement behaviour with their inbox placement/prioritisation techniques.

Yahoo!’s integration with Yahoo! messenger meant that all other emails are ranked secondary to those received from Yahoo! messenger contacts.
Hotmail also targets Graymail (one step up from spam) which is represented by email such as newsletters and offers which were originally wanted, might still be wanted, but not necessarily right now. Hotmail estimates that these emails represent 50% of all inbox traffic and are the source of 75% of all spam complaints. Their approach to combating Graymail represents a combination of techniques, and includes:
•       A special category for the automatic placement of “newsletters”
•       One-click unsubscribe facility
•       Scheduled cleanups
•       Flagging system for important emails
•       User-created custom categories.
The main aim of a smart inbox is to maximise engagement with customers. Here are some important points for email marketers to consider:
•       Engagement data is being used both to influence inbox positioning as well as inbox placement
•       Be careful that your definition of engaged may not necessarily be the same definition that the ISPs are using. Marketers will consider data such as opens, clicks, conversions, or website activity. ISPs will be looking at metrics such as last log-in date, time spent in the email client, and whether behaviour resembles that of a real person, such as reading, deleting and even marking email as spam or not spam.
Ultimately, email marketers who follow best practice and who have the best sender reputation metrics will achieve priority status if their recipients interact and engage with their emails.
The advantages of successfully reaching the priority Inbox are clear as emails would undoubtedly gain far more clicks and opens than emails listed without priority status.

Posted by Jenni Malley

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