If you’ve been using email marketing for some time to promote your subscriptions, you probably remember the angst that followed the introduction of Google’s Gmail Tabs feature last year. Among the early fears was that marketers’ promotional messages would get abandoned and forgotten in recipients’ Promotions tab — a fear, it turned out, that proved to be unfounded.Well, brace yourself, because Google looks to be mixing things up again — at least on an experimental basis for now. This time, though, the potential change could be an exciting one.Announced late last month, the new feature now being tested out in field trials allows messages in the Promotions tab to be displayed Pinterest-style, with separate boxes and large images for each message.”A new grid view will bring to the top of your inbox key images from deals, offers and other marketing emails if you have the Promotions tab enabled,” explained Gmail Product Manager Aaron Rothman in a blog post. “Grid view also comes with infinite scrolling, making it easy to quickly scan through your messages and find the ones that look interesting.” A screenshot of the image-based grid view is shown below.
Of course, it’s not yet certain whether this feature will make it into mainstream use or — if it does — exactly what form it will take. In the meantime, though, ClickMail recently offered some tips for marketers in anticipation based on how things look now:1) Your HTML code will need to be tweaked if you want it to show up correctly. Specifically, you’ll need to add the special “schemas” code Google has made accessible to developers. Note that images can be in GIF, JPEG or PNG formats, but GIFs will appear static.2) If you don’t include a featured image for use in the new format, Gmail will choose it for you, which you don’t want. So choose images well, and remember — ads are also getting the new layout (see the yellow Airbnb box above), so you’ll be competing with them, too.3) The “From” name and subject line are still included, so don’t start ignoring them.If you’re interested in testing out the new feature, you can sign up for the field trial at g.co/gmailfieldtrial. If you get selected, we’d love to hear your impressions!