Gmail’s Image Now Showing Feature – A Plus for Email Marketing?

On Thursday, December 12, 2013 John Rae-Grant, Google’s Product Manager, made a post announcing yet another change from the stables of Google.  In the post simply titled: “Images Now Showing” John Rae-Grant said,

“Have you ever wondered why Gmail asks you before showing images in emails? We did this to protect you from unknown senders who might try to use images to compromise the security of your computer or mobile device.

But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers. “

Google's Image Now Showing update

That indeed seems to be good news for Gmail users – Google cares about your privacy!

But, marketers are seeing it in a different light.

As expected, the debate is on. Is this another way of Google “muzzling” email marketers and forcing them into using more paid advertising just as they are trying to do with search engine marketing or is it truly because of users’ privacy?

Change Could Be for Good or….

Of course, for every change there would always be some form of disadvantage. And for this change, one of the drawbacks is the fact that it takes away the ability of marketers to track email metrics. For example, since Gmail users do not have to click on “display images below” to show images in their inbox, the user’s info (like location, device type and date and time on which the email was read) which previously were transmitted to the email marketer through such actions, will no longer be sent.

Considering this, those who believe that Google is muzzling email marketers may be correct. But looked at from another angle, it does really appear that this change will make email marketing more result oriented. In fact, it is an indication that Google is pushing email towards a more social platform than what we have seen!

We mustn’t forget the fact that in 2011 Google announced the integration of Gmail and Google+  enabling users to add contacts to their Google+ circles and also share content with them right from Gmail.  Besides, we should remember also that visual content presentation is the vogue online right now. Showing images in Gmail therefore is just a way of keeping up with the times!

And, I dare say, we may be seeing a new design layout for Gmail very soon!

The Positive Side of “Image Now Showing”

Despite the hard knocks this change is receiving from marketers, I personally welcome it. I’ve actually wished for it before now.

Many a time when I send out email notifications of new blog posts and product posts and I receive those emails in my inbox, I was always disappointed because of the image not displaying. Frankly, without the image the message usually look awkward. And if that was coming from me what were recipients saying?

This is one of the biggest reasons why, to me, this change is actually a positive one for marketers. With this new change it is definitely clear that we can now add some more visual appeal to our email promotions.

Also, the fact that with the integration of Gmail and Google+ you can easily +1 an image share it with your Google+ circles  right from your inbox, this change is something we must take seriously. Including a visual appealing image in your email is definitely going to be a powerful  tactic of making our promotions go viral. Of course, Google has already made this easy and quick with the addition of the green hover share button within your Gmail inbox!

Marketers Should Really Take Advantage of This Change

Rather than talk down on this new image change, marketers should find more profitable ways of taking advantage of it. One of such ways is by using more appealing images in email sends. It is a fact that email is one of the most popular platforms used by people online. It is also more personal than most other platforms (social media or blogs). If that is the case, a change that gives you the ability to better connect with your email contacts is really a good one.

I see very soon marketers using funny images to push their marketing messages. And where this is used well it could signal a really viral promotion for any product or service.

It doesn’t matter what the intention of Google is, marketers can always find ways of making this work for them.  So, as marketers we can really say, Google thank you!

Or, do you have a different view of this new “image now showing” update from Google? Will love to know your views.

The Untold Truth About Web Hosting That Every WordPress Blogger Must Know!

What do you know about you web host? Or put differently, what did you take into consideration in choosing your present website host?

I know web hosting is not a glamorous topic to write on and therefore you will find very less mention of it in blog posts. But why is this so?

Frankly, there are a number of reasons but top most in the list is the fact that many bloggers take web hosting for granted. Bloggers who use WordPress are even less likely to know about this subject. But that is really unfortunate as you could run into unexpected problems along the way.

[Editor’s note: The problem I had with the WebIncomeJournal a few weeks ago was a problem that has to do with web hosting. Before now I thought a simple reseller hosting account was good enough for a decent blog. But the sad experience opened my eyes to the limitations of shared hosting. I think you should really pay careful attention to this article. Let it motivate you to do some more research before you choose your next web host!]

Web hosting and BloggersOk, so what should you know about your web host and why? Let’s discuss this briefly.

1. What Are The Technical Specifications Of Your Web Server?

By technical specifications I mean server capacity, communication backbone, datacenter in which the server is located, data backup facility, number of sites hosted on the server, RAM and location.

The location of your server is important. If you expect your visitors to come from US, your server must also be located there. There is no point having a low cost host located at Korea since user experience deteriorates with distance.

The datacenter in which your server is located is also a factor to be considered. Some datacenters directly connect to high speed internet backbone which speeds up data transfer considerably. Datacenters must be physically secured and must provide incremental backup facility. You must remember that your data is the most critical element and should not be compromised under any circumstances. Physical and electronic security is therefore a must.

Most of us merely look at the amount of server space allotted to us. A typical WordPress client would need not more than a few Gigabits of space. RAM capacity which is more important factor is surprisingly ignored by us. Most of the outrages occur due to insufficient RAM. In one case I remember that  I lost all my data because of it. Most web host providers do not supply this information and have to be coeaxed into divulging it.

2. One Click Installation of WordPress

I would consider this necessary for any web host. Most of us, I mean bloggers, don’t know technology and consider it unnecessary. Tech guys understand this and have provided for one click installation of WordPress. I would avoid any host who doesn’t explicitly provide for this. In addition, I have noticed that many bloggers have more than one blog. Your web host must be able to provide for multiple WordPress installations which you can manage from a single dashboard. Automatic upgrades must also be available.

3. Managing WordPress File Transfer through FTP

In many instances php files are not visible through WordPress interface. In such a situation, you must be able to upload and transfer files through FTP. Though you may not encounter this problem often, it’s important to have a good FTP client for file transfer.

Conclusion

In addition to usual server specifications, WordPress users must ask for more information from their web host. Though price is a major consideration for most bloggers, it must not be the sole factor while deciding on a web host provider.

Ultimately, WordPress users must be able to install, use and upgrade their installation with ease. Remember that bloggers have to blog and not battle with technology.

Over to you: What was your consideration in choosing your web host? Have you ever had a problem with your web host? Share your experience with us in your comments below.