Google changes their business and changes ours.
Fact: 60% of consumers use Gmail as their primary email account.
So, you can bet your bippy that when the G-Man makes a change to how it delivers that email, it has an effect on businesses all over the world.
And there’s a change coming that’s about to have a big effect on Broadway.
The thing is, you’re probably going to like this change when you’ve got your consumer hat on. But put on your Producer hat, and you’re going to sweat through the brim.
Google knows that everyone out there faces inbox clutter, and over the years they’ve set up systems for people to “take charge of their inbox.” Simply put, they are like the California Closets of . . . uh . . . closets.
In the current configuration of Gmail, you can set up custom filters to have Google shuffle around your e-stuff for you. Emails from people, or companies can get tossed into whatever folders in your inbox you want. You can even have ’em automatically read, filed, deleted, whatever. It’s pretty amazing.
But apparently, it wasn’t amazing enough.
See, setting up filters is a bit of a process . . . one that most people probably aren’t doing. Are you?
In an effort to make things easier for you (which you might suggest from the company that is developing a car that drives itself), just last week Google announced that they’re adding an auto-filtering tool to everyone’s inbox.
Gmail will now auto sort your incoming email into four main tabs:
- Primary (your main feed)
- Social (your Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace (joking) messages)
- Updates (confirmations and receipts)
and . . .
Guess what Promotions is?
You know, things like discount offers from Staples, Golf Galaxy . . . and, yep, Telecharge, Theatermania, Playbill, YourBroadwayGenius, TicketCentral, SmartTix, BroadwayBox, Ticketmaster, and every other e-direct response initiative our industry uses. In fact, even this blog is gonna be called a Promotion unless you teach Google that it’s not.
What’s the problem?
Well, all of those lovely emails that we pay big bucks for won’t be visible in 60% of consumer’s primary feeds (if they were lucky enough to get through the fascist spam filters in the first place). In order to find an offer for a show, a Gmailer will have to select their promotions tab, and then sort through all their other offers from all sorts of sources and select it.
Sure, you can customize Google to treat the email offers differently, but by default, our email blasts won’t be interruption marketing anymore.
In other words . . . open rates are gonna go down . . . and sales are going to go down. Period.
We’re not the only industry that’s going to be affected by this massive change. And while I expect some to lobby Google to reconsider, and others to pray that consumers backlash against this update (which hasn’t rolled out system wide – you have to click your gearbox setting and manually turn it on if you want to test it – which I have), I don’t see them backing off this idea.
Seems like a small technology change, I know. But this is serious. Our biz has been dependent on this form of communication for years. It’s been our sales security blanket, and it’s about to get torn away.
No worries, though, I’m sure our email blast providers will drop their rates if it does change their effectiveness.
Not likely. So it’s up to us . . . to find some work around, or even better, a new way to generate sales, and maybe even full price sales at that (!).
Security blankets are fine, but you gotta grow up at some point. No time like the present.
So thanks for the kick in the promotional pants, Googs. We need it.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.