Chapter 3

Email Client Updates & Changes

Major Updates to Gmail

Image Caching

In December 2013, Gmail began caching images for users accessing Gmail via a browser and in the mobile Gmail apps. While image caching keeps images safe by checking files for known viruses or malware, it poses a few challenges for accurate collection of open data.

In addition, some Gmail subscribers have noticed image compression and quality problems, images failing to load, or images loading in the wrong spot.

Action items: Reacting to image caching

Automatic Image Downloads

Shortly after introducing image caching, Gmail began automatically displaying images. The effects of this change became evident with an increase in Gmail opens in early 2014—and continued throughout the year.

Email tracking relies on a unique image (often known as a tracking pixel) in your campaign loading within the email. Every time the image is downloaded from the server, the tracking software or ESP marks that email as an open. While Gmail formerly asked users to click a link to download all images (including the invisible open tracking image), all images are now automatically downloaded and displayed. The net result is an increase in open rates.

Overall, Gmail opens increased 73% in 2014, largely a result of the introduction of image enablement and image caching.

Action item: Still optimize for images-off viewing

Automatic Unsubscribe

In February, Gmail introduced an automatic unsubscribe option, which is available to all users using Gmail in a web browser. Rather than searching for the unsubscribe link in an email, Gmail users can now unsubscribe with a simple click right at the top of the message.

While auto-unsubscribe makes it easier for subscribers to remove themselves from your lists, it may also reduce spam complaints and frustrated users—and may even help improve your sender reputation! Rather than marking an email as spam because a user can’t find an unsubscribe link, they will now easily be able to unsubscribe from your emails. The removal of disengaged and disinterested subscribers from your mailing lists may be beneficial to your overall email marketing program.

Action item: Implement the automatic unsubscribe

Promotions Tab Grid View

In March 2014, Gmail introduced a visual alternative to the Promotions tab, called grid view. Grid view is currently available for users that have opted-in and are using the Gmail web interface. Taking a page out of the Pinterest playbook, grid view brings large graphics and infinite scrolling to the Promotions tab.

In accounts where grid view is enabled, Gmail displays each email with a large featured image, sender name, subject line, and sender image. Note that preview text is no longer displayed!

Action item: Optimize your emails for this new inbox

Yahoo's Update (Or, Step Back)

Yahoo Drops Support for Align Attributes

In May 2014, Mark Lillicrapp, a Litmus Community member, noticed that Yahoo no longer supports the center align HTML attribute. Many email designers use align=“center” to center tables in their campaigns. This technique helps prevent content from pushing up against the edges of the email body and generally makes for a better looking email. As a result of this issue, tables are displayed to the left of their intended position.

Action item: Use a little code to fix the issue