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Gmail Not In Scope? Excuse Me?

I subscribe to a great e-newsletter a friend of mine produces. The other day it landed in my “gmail”: inbox but appeared totally out of whack. Trying to decipher it was like a scene out of the “DeVinci Code”:
So I told my friend and he forwarded my email to his agency and asked if they tested email formatting in Gmail. The response was “Gmail accounts are not generally included in the scope of our projects.” Excuse me?
That’s pretty shortsighted in my view. If there are already thousands of Gmail users in only a couple of years, what happens when more email users shift to Gmail over time? What if Google moves from Beta, eliminates the invite-only option and makes Gmail public? The floodgates could easily burst open. Cracks are already appearing…
I contacted my amigos at Google for a ballpark figure for total Gmail subscribers but was very politely told to go fish. They are not at liberty to disclose even directional information (which I respect) however one can conservatively estimate Gmail adoption is rising. How many people do you know with Gmail accounts?

Remember when Google offered loads of email storage space for free when other web based emails wanted you to pay? What if the G-men/women pull another rabbit out of their hats to shake things up in the e-mail space? Candidly, I wouldn’t bet against them based on their history.
It’s highly recommended to test how your website displays with various browsers be it the Internet Explorer versions, Firefox, Safari, Netscape and/or AOL. So shouldn’t the same theory apply to testing how your email diplays in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Lotus Notes and other email applications?
Today Google mail may not be in scope. But what happens when Gmail or another web-based email end up representing 20% or 30% of your email database? Losing a ton of subscribers because your email looks like a chinese riddle is undesirable. Heck, even a 1% unsubscribe rate is undesirable.
You might as well have Gmail and any other email services you can think of included in your scope now. Your competitors probably have.


  1. Barry A. Martin
    Barry A. Martin August 8, 2006

    Agreed. This is one of those situations in which the audience may be small, but likely more useful. 80/20 style, I figure the folks who are using gmail, especially as their main account are early adopters, inclined to try things, and comfortable on the web. A silly section of your audience for you to skip.
    Campaign Monitor, the web darling hosted enewsletter co. offer a comprehensive comparison chart detailing which apps on which platforms support css emails. This isn’t an endorsment per se, because they’re small (2 fellas, I think), and in Australia (far, work time only slightly overlaps), and the last campaign I ran through them (Ken Dryden’s bid for the liberal leadership here in Canadia) had the kind of hiccups those conditions naturally risk. But they were swell folks who clearly know their stuff (we’ll certainly be using them again), as evidenced by the nitty gritty article on the topic in question:

  2. June Macdonald
    June Macdonald August 8, 2006

    I think this is a lazy response from your friend’s agency. What else don’t they do? How is it looking in outlook without images? On a mobile device?
    Sherpa has a recent article on formatting for web mail:

  3. Joy Boyson
    Joy Boyson August 8, 2006

    Lazy indeed.
    In the era gone by (Browser Wars 1.0), people tested for each and every format they could think of just to avoid embarrassment or surprise.
    When MS gained market share, I believe we became a tad complacent… happy to test on IE and Outlook and be done with it. Not so today.
    Another browser of note which wasn’t listed above, Opera.
    Test for the mass market, that’s where the money is — test for the early adopters, that’s where the influence is.

  4. David Dougherty
    David Dougherty August 8, 2006

    Why would you want to have a larger potential audience within the scope of your projects?
    Couldn’t agree more. I have recently gone through a similar situation – involving Gmail not being on the list of testing clients and not being seen as necessary.
    Not only is Gmail still relatively new to many people, it does not provide much/any CSS support.
    In case anyone is interested – this is a decent article (and list of other resources) to look at if you are considering updating your newsletter template to accommodate common browsers:

  5. Kelly Rusk
    Kelly Rusk August 9, 2006

    I lOVE my gmail. Though, admittedly, I am a little torn as an email marketer. I mean gmail is great for users, but can be a bit of a pain for those of us creating the emails.
    However, after an hour or so of online research, and some testing, our company discovered that, hey, it’s not too hard to design for gmail too! Avoid CSS, and if you can’t use inline styling as a fallback for Gmail users.
    I completely agree that the agency was out of line. Maybe they don’t have a Gmail account to test in? Maybe you should send them an invite!!

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