About 18 months ago I had wrapped up some larger dev projects for SendView and wanted to turn my attention to some smaller features. Specifically, I wanted to check off tracking for a few of up-and-coming tech / code trends.
So I wrote some rules for dark mode.
But I also dug into Gmail Annotations. There seemed to be a good portion of emails using them, so I jumped in, added some flags so I could tell which emails contained the required code, and even recreated my own version fo the Gmail Annotations preview tool so I could put it right into SendView.
I watched the numbers that first month after going live and, sure enough, during that first month about 2% of emails we analyzed contained this code.
Since then? Well, it's been less rosy.
That first month was a November - i.e., the Black Friday / Cyber Monday stretch - so rather than start with what might have been an outlier, I looked at the four months that followed to give us a better idea of what usage looked like back then.
Starting around 1.3% in December, the percentage of all emails we processed that included the code dropped to about 1.0% in January before rebounding slightly to 1.1% in March of 2021.
And March ended up being pretty representative of the average for this period which was 1.13%.
What happened during the following few months, however, would take that average and cut it in half and then almost in half again.
April 2021 saw 0.89% of all emails we processed containing Gmail annotations, May dropped to 0.72%, and by June the number was down to 0.37%. From there through January 2022, the average hovered right around 0.33% of all emails.
But that plateau wouldn't last long. Since January 2022, things have started sliding downward again.
During May 2022, just 0.07% of all the emails we processed included Gmail annotation code. I included June even though it's only a few days worth of data because across those few days, just 0.01% of emails included this code.
Here's the thing, I really like the idea behind annotations and, at least in my inbox, the brands that used this code certainly stood out. Domino's Pizza was one of those that I started seeing at the top of my promotions tab on a regular basis.
But the fact that:
- there was no guarantee of Gmail actually using this code to make you a top promotion
- it was just in Gmail
- it was just for mobile
- it was only in the promotions tab
- thought leaders moved on to newer, more effective trends
Well, all of these things made gaining momentum all but impossible for this kind of tool. Like a car that ran out of gas a half mile ago, it's been coasting along...but that momentum is running out.
Are Gmail annotations dead? No. But it doesn't look too far away.
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