Google has been busy updating Gmail, even during the holiday season. While businesses of every size have been sending out lots of emails to encourage shopping, Gmail has a gift to make your email marketing just a little bit easier.

Google recently announced changes to how it’ll handle images in Gmail going forward. Gmail will now host images from emails on their system. This means that once someone opens an email, the image is cached, or saved by Google on their system. Anyone tracking opens for their email marketing will still be able to do so, but for those who track the number of opens by an individual recipient, they’ll no longer get that information. A recipient’s first open will be tracked and the image will be cached. Any subsequent opens by that same person will not be tracked. For most people, this won’t make a huge impact on their email marketing since most ESPs (email service providers) only track the first open anyway.

This leads to the next change Google made, and one that should have a big impact for anyone sending emails. Since the images from emails are now securely stored by Google, images will no longer be blocked by default in Gmail. No more clicking on the “Display images” link to see a picture, as they’ll be shown automatically.


image courtesy of Gmail

This doesn’t mean Gmail will show pictures willy-nilly, they’ll first be scanned to ensure there isn’t any malware or viruses associated with them, and they’ll also scan the email message for any suspicious content. If something seems awry, the images will be blocked and the reader will be asked if they want to see them. And, Gmail users will have the option to set up blocked images until they click the link if they want to. For now, everyone will see images by default unless they make changes to their settings. Note: Currently, this option is just for Gmail on a desktop, mobile apps will be added in 2014.


Image courtesy of Gmail blog

What does this mean for you? Your Gmail open rates will probably be more accurate now, since there are plenty of people who read emails with the images turned off. Now you’ll know when people are reading your emails on Gmail, because opens are tracked through images. And before you’re tempted to stop using alt text for your images, this change is only for Gmail, there are still plenty of other email programs blocking images, so give your reader every reason to see them.

Are you excited about the impact this change in Gmail could make to your email marketing? Share with us in the comments!

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