Google recently announced that it is changing the way Gmail handles images (this change is already in effect). This could have implications for your email marketing efforts. See Gmail blog post
In the past, images were not displayed by default and users needed to click an “authorization” link that tells Gmail it is okay to download images. Once the authorization link was clicked, the email refreshes to show the images.
Now, images automatically display because rather than downloading the images from the 3rd party, Gmail is actually saving the images on their own server (caching) and then simply loading the images inside Gmail.
Google claims that this change makes your email more “safe and secure” because “your images are checked (by Google) for known viruses or malware”. In addition it cuts out a step in viewing emails thus making Gmail faster and easier to use.
What this means for your email marketing efforts:
As this is still very new, there are a lot of different notions out there.
Some people think it will significantly reduce the ability to “track” email opens and gather data. In a recent post from Ars Technica Ron Amadeo makes the following observation:
E-mail marketers will no longer be able to get any information from images—they will see a single request from Google, which will then be used to send the image out to all Gmail users. Unless you click on a link, marketers will have no idea the e-mail has been seen.
Emailing software providers such as MailChimp assure their users that this is not going to interfere with determining open rates.
Tom Monaghan from Hubspot points out:
“The big pro of this is that Google is now moving from a default of not showing images to a default of showing images. This is a big deal, and it’s not getting nearly enough attention. The reality is that under half of email apps default to showing images [The implication being greater click through rates]. Where we previously had a hole in our data from [Gmail] folks who opened but didn’t display images or click a link, we now will have open data.”
For more details, please check out this great article on Hubspot’s Blog: How Google’s Change to Gmail Images Affects Email Marketers