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!)

One Response to The Email Marketing Opportunity Your Brand is Missing: Gmail’s Sidebar
  1. […] Hall-Stigerts of the Marketing Gal blog, one of the best tools of this trade comes in the form of em...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.