Inbox by Gmail – an experiment

Inbox by Gmail

It’s been a few weeks now since Google announced and released Inbox by Gmail. As you more than likely know, Inbox was released much like any other Google product – exclusivity with invites. After a little while waiting and searching for a precious invite for Inbox, I was in!

Putting this out there from the beginning. I like Google. Gmail is my inbox of choice, despite its massive issues with HTML email rendering. And yes, I even like and enjoy using Google+. It’s fair to say, I’m a Google fangirl. So I was excited about using Inbox.

I replaced Gmail on my phone (Android of course.) with the Inbox by Gmail app and the same on my computer. I wanted to give this a real shot, to see what all the fuss was about and how Google are changing the email game.

Inbox by Gmail in a nutshell

With Inbox, Google have changed the way in which email is seen. Rather than it being a matter of read or unread email messages, Inbox almost forces you to deal with email inbox as and when you get notifications. But on your own terms. Read and mark email messages as done right here and now. Or snooze them until a time when you know you’ll have time to deal with them. Google has almost given the receiver of the email, whatever sort of email, the power in when they want to act on the message.

Having replaced my Gmail with Inbox, I can honestly say, I have enjoyed using it. Pre-Inbox, I often left emails as unread until I knew I had time to deal with them. To take some sort of action upon them. There’s nothing more I liked seeing than an inbox clear of unread messages and that unread counter used to mock me. Which may be why I liked using Inbox. Easily putting off emails until that night, tomorrow, the next morning, or whenever I want to get that reminder. I’ve never “forgotten” an email because of Inbox.

People are going to miss my emails!

And this snoozing feature is what a few marketers out there are afraid of. The fear of their email being missed. But I think the fear is unwarranted. The same general fear happened when Google introduced tabs for Gmail. And that’s not done that much harm. In fact it’s probably done more good. Sure, open rates may have gone down initially but customer engagement went up.

The fear is unwarranted, at the moment, for a couple of reasons. Inbox by Gmail is still in its infancy in terms of user uptake. There’s no widespread user base to feel any sort of impact here. Secondly, surely as a marketer, you would much rather a user or customer view your email when they want to? Not when they just happen to receive it and all they have time to do is give it a cursory glance and casually mark it as read. It’s a level of personalisation that email marketers strive for – being able to deliver an email to a customer at the perfect time.

Inbox is still failing some basics

It is a shame that Inbox uses the same HTML rendering that Gmail uses which means no media-queries and no support for CSS in the section of emails. Though, there could be some good news on the media-queries front.

As may be evident from this post, I’m still using Inbox by Gmail. I haven’t felt the need to switch back to Gmail. Except that one time I sent an email, forgot something and couldn’t undo my send! Hopefully in time, Google will start providing this little services on Inbox. Hopefully with time they’ll refine the User Experience a little bit more. It takes one click too many for me to bin items and sometimes one click too many to view an email.

Inbox by Gmail’s future

Email has been around for decades. By trying to change the fundamental way in how users use email is a brave thing for Google to want to tackle. (Especially, if they wanted to tackle email, there are countless things they could have done in Gmail first!) And I admire them. For pushing an “old” technology forward to better suit how people use technology and want to use technology on a day-to-day basis. It’s certainly not for everyone, so it’s great that Google haven’t forced this new app on everyone.

(Yes, I do have some invites. Hit me up if you want one!)

Image from Inbox by Gmail

4 thoughts on “Inbox by Gmail – an experiment”

  1. Good read.
    I’m a Google fan too and I was so excit D by the release.

    I hid Gmail and made myself adjust on my Android 😉 & desktop and I’m loving it.
    No turning back now.

    Google all the things!

    1. Email is pretty old! And it’s been the same way for such a long time now.

      I like that, while so many out there are touting email, as a form of communication, is dead/dying, here Google are giving email a little make over.

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