social media marketing

The Email Marketing Opportunity Your Brand is Missing: Gmail’s Sidebar

I purchased a digital gift card from Amazon when I noticed something in the confirmation email that I haven’t noticed before:

Email containing a photo from Google Plus in the email sidebar.

Google Plus photos appearing like an ad in the Gmail sidebar. Woah!

Photos synched from the emailer’s Google Plus profile and displayed in the Gmail sidebar was not a new concept to me. I’ve seen emails from circled contacts containing their recent photos, such as my bandmate Jerry posting a photo of that crazy composition “Pictures at an Exhibition”:

Google Plus photo is shared in the email sidebar when you've circled the contact.

My bandmate Jerry has sent over an email – since he’s in my circles, I can see his latest Google Plus photo from rehearsal.

But I haven’t seen this from a brand in my sidebar before… and leveraged in a way that makes it look like a free ad!

Clicking on Amazon’s photo of the baby seat in the first image above sent me to the photo they shared on their Google Plus page. The text is, of course, taken from the description of the image.

Hold yer horses: there are a few caveats

This is where I ran to Twitter and shouted from the mountaintop: “START UPDATING YOUR GOOGLE PLUS PHOTOS SO YOU CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS FREE BRANDING OPPORTUNITY!” And then, of course, we learn it’s not so simple.

Google Plus expert Mark Traphagan dug a little further and learned that:

– It’s not limited to photos – it also shows posts!
– This only works with brand / business Google Plus pages, not individual profiles.
You must send at least 1,000 emails per week to qualify.
– Organizations first need to follow a few steps to activate sidebar updates in Gmail.

Still – it’s a free way to connect with your audience through the most-used communication channel (email) on one of the most-used free email platforms (Gmail). They will see your brand’s logo, Google+ page link, and any recent activity that includes updates as well as photos.

Pretty sweet, right? There are just a few hoops you have to jump through first.

How to get your business’s Google Plus content in the Gmail sidebar

Ready to get authenticated? There’s only two steps – but remember that to use the Gmail sidebar feature, you need to send at least 1,000 emails from your domain to qualify.

1) Link your Google+ Page to your website that has the same domain as the emails you will be distributing from.

2) Digitally sign your email with a DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) or a Sender Policy Framework (SPF).

Read the full description and explanation in Google’s help article about the Gmail pages widget. (Hat tip to Mark Traphagen.)

But even if you’re not sending 1,000 emails per week or using a Google+ pages account, still expect to see your content pop up on emails to contacts who have circled you. (And another great reason to keep building your Google+ following!)

The new Twitter profile layout – and what this means for your Twitter marketing

If you’ve been using Twitter the last few weeks, you probably noticed changes to the user interface: larger and lighter buttons along the header, a fresher feel where the and black bar along the cheap nfl jerseys top has been replaced with white, new retweet and “favorite” icons that are reminiscent of the candy you’d eat as a kid. (My favorite change is the new sans-serif font – it gives more breathing space to the page.)

New Twitter icons 

It’s clear that Twitter is going for a more inviting design experience. Even more recent at changes that started rolling out today point to a savvier marketing experience, aunque too.


New Twitter profile view 

The new Twitter profile view is slowly being rolled out to everyone. Here’s what I’ve observed:

  1. It’s not being released based on seniority or age of the account: my newer Tea Voyeur account can view it but not my established HallStigerts.
  2. Twitter is taking cues from other major social networks like Facebook, cheap nfl jerseys Instagram, and Google+ for its design: Larger graphics & text, and more white space. However current background graphics seem to be missing.
  3. The coolest feature: you can pin your best tweet to the top of your profile! This is great for marketing – highlight your recent sale or a photo you’re particularly proud of when people visit your profile.

You’ll know when you have the new profile view when you see this popup:

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 11.08.01 AM

Bigger and better. Check out your new profile.

This is your space: be creative. Add a larger header and profile picture to show off your unique style.

Your best tweets. Front and center. The Tweets that got your friends talking are now bigger.

Make a statement, loud and clear. Pin your favorite Tweet to the top of your page.

What this means for your Twitter marketing


Update your header image (that one behind your profile image). Make sure it’s a high resolution because it’s going to get stretched and pixelated if it’s not big enough: 1500 x 500 pixels, maximum file of size of 5MB. (Thanks to Erica McGillivray for finding the image specs!) Have it reflect your brand but don’t overwhelm your Twitter profile with spammy text and icons.

Take advantage of the “pin” feature. Pin a tweet to the top of your profile to highlight do your latest blog post, promotion, or event. (Don’t forget to include an image for more visibility!)

Driving traffic to your profile page will be even more important. Just like all tweets (unless they’re paid promoted), your pinned tweet will fall down your followers’ feeds as it ages.

Background images are disappearing. As of now, it looks like the background images will no longer exist. (Perhaps because wholesale jerseys it overwhelms the new layout.) If you have branded marketing on your Twitter background, update your header and profile images accordingly.


Can you see the new profiles yet? How do you plan on integrating them into your social media marketing plan?

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