Quick Actions Allow Gmail Users to Convert Before Opening

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Gmail recently announced a new feature, called “Quick Actions,” that will allow users to perform actions right in their inbox without needing to open emails first. In the mind of an email marketer, this equates to skipping several steps in the conversion process: bypassing the open and going straight for the CTA.

actions-rsvp-inbox
Responding to an event directly from the Gmail inbox. Image via Google.

“Getting those things done is getting a little easier with new quick action buttons in Gmail, designed to help you tackle your digital to-do’s as quickly as possible,” touts the official announcement on the Gmail blog. Sounds like a win for Gmail users and senders alike: a quicker path to conversion for marketers and less hassle for those with overburdened inboxes.

TYPES OF TASKS AVAILABLE VIA QUICK ACTIONS

Gmail currently supports four types of actions, categorized into “in-app” and “go-to” actions:

  • One-click replies, for simple, pre-defined tasks (for instance, registration confirmation)
  • Submitting reviews for products or services (an example might be giving a restaurant a star rating along with a quick text reviews and submitting it to a 3rd party app)
  • Event responses or RSVPs, which would show event details along with Yes/No/Maybe responses
  • More complex interactions that involve multiple steps and take the user to a landing page

actions-go-to-action

The more complex “go-to” actions add a new, unique button directly adjacent to the subject line in the inbox view. Image via Google.

WHY USE THEM? USE CASES FOR QUICK ACTIONS

In addition to the scenarios above, Google also mentions that early release partner Esna is using quick actions to “inform users of missed calls and provide them with a one-click button to be called again” while local food delivery services Seamless is “implementing the rate/review action to collect feedback about restaurants.” More complex use cases for “go-to” actions include checking into flights, tracking package deliveries, playing movies or songs in web-based streaming services, updating account details, and more.

Other early release partners include Docusign, Mailchimp, Netflix, OpenTable, Paperless Post, Spotify, and Tripit. Interestingly enough, I spotted a quick action in the wild with a recent email from TripIt:

tripit-action

TripIt’s usual triggered message becomes that much more useful when I can access my itinerary with fewer clicks!

ADDING QUICK ACTIONS TO YOUR EMAILS

Adding quick actions to your email involves adding a bit of JSON script to the header of your email:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "Event",
  "name": "John's Birthday Party",
  ... information about the event ...
  "action": {
    "@type": "RsvpAction",
    "actionHandler": {
      "@type": "HttpActionHandler",
      "url": "https://events-organizer.com/rsvp?eventId=123",
      "method": "POST",
      "requiredProperty": "rsvpStatus",
    }
  }
}
</script>

The code, known as a schema, is still going through the standardization process, so there’s bound to be some quirks. For now, it seems like non-Gmail accounts would simply ignore the scripts used for quick actions. However, the potential of schemas and quick actions is vast. As Elliot Ross notes, “using a schema.org style standard means that there’s potential for the same code to be used by other email apps.” While I remain optimistic that adoption of schemas will make their way into email, I temper my optimism with the knowledge that the industry has also been slow to adopt new standards.

While you can test quick actions by adding schemas to your email and sending them to yourself (you’ll need to send and receive the email from a @gmail.com address), launching to the public requires registration with Google, DKIM or SPF authentication, and adherence to some email best practices. Google also encourages quick actions to be used in transactional emails versus promotional bulk messages.

MEASURING IMPACT FROM QUICK ACTIONS

Speaking as a designer, I love that quick actions enhance the Gmail user experience. Speaking as a marketer, the potential to offer direct access to conversion opportunities without users needing to open emails is revolutionary. But it also means preparing for a potential decrease in open and click rates, and impacts to content strategy. If the user doesn’t have to open in order to take the action, open rates will surely decline, but conversion or click rates on the action may increase.

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