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What Gmail’s image updates mean for you

If you use Gmail you may have recently noticed that images in your emails are now automatically displayed.

Or if you send emails to customers who use Gmail you may have seen some changes in open rates.

This is because Gmail now displays images by default. This update came into play a couple of months ago and as with most major changes there was concern across the industry that it could be a ‘game changer’.

Well rest assured, Australia’s Email Marketing Metric Report states that only 3% of all email opens happen in Gmail, which means these updates are unlikely to have a drastic impact on most email marketing.

In saying that it is worth investigating what they mean for you.

The role that images play in email

We all know images help make an email look good, but they also play an important role when it comes to tracking. Images are used to track email opens and provide valuable data about when, where and how campaigns are read.

This tracking depends on an image being included in your email and then that image being downloaded and displayed inside the email.

Images are now displayed by default in Gmail

This means that readers will no longer need to switch images on for your emails, so image blocking shouldn’t be an issue with Gmail anymore, which is good news.

But as the age old saying goes – nothing comes for free, except for our free trial – check it out 😉

To ensure that images are safe for readers, first Gmail will serve all images via Google’s image proxy servers. This is done to help prevent recipients from receiving harmful viruses.

This change could impact your reports

Because all email service providers rely on image downloads from their servers to provide tracking, having images automatically displayed could lead to you seeing some changes:

  1. You could see a slight increase in unique opens in Gmail because an email is classified as open once the images are downloaded. 
  2. Country detection has changed. Now that images aren’t downloaded directly from Vision6 servers geolocation tracking is difficult. We will detect it where we can but by default location may now show as ‘unknown’ or similar.
  3. And finally, domains, which are email addresses administered by organisations but powered by Gmail, will now show up as being opened in gmail. This could also contribute to an increase in unique opens in Gmail.

It is important to note that these changes will only impact emails opened through the Gmail web interface and the mobile Gmail app. If your readers open emails in non-Gmail mobile apps, such as iPhone mail, the images will be downloaded from the original server.

Where to from here?

As with any development in the email marketing world we will be keeping a close eye on what these changes mean for you and your reports. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any further updates.

In the mean time keep doing what we all know works best – creating engaging emails that your customers want to receive.

Kelly polaroidPosted by:
Kelly Newbery
Marketing Specialist
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