When email became popular, it was personal: we used it as a way to communicate with friends and family. Now, there are so many other ways to connect that we don’t often email friends.

But email didn’t become obsolete! Not for businesses, anyway. Businesses jumped in the game with email newsletters full of color, photos, links, social media icons, and more.

(They called them e-newsletters or blasts back then because newsletters were still thought of as a printed piece of paper with 3 columns. Thank goodness for progress;))

Over the last few years, marketers thought sending out email newsletters with a ton of photos and colors would catch people’s attention and make them want to open and click through.

They’re not wrong, of course. But…like Gary Vee says, “Marketers ruin everything” (in the best way!)

It means we’re willing to try out new platforms and learn them as strategies to build businesses.

That also means we’ve got to be just as flexible in adapting to changes in the environment. I give you Exhibit A: the recent introduction of the “Promotions” folder in Gmail.

To avoid being marked as “promotions”, email marketers have started to strip their emails of photos and colors.

They’re making them more like an email from a friend, without colors, photos, and social media icons.

Check your own inbox. I bet some newsletters avoid the Promotions folder and actually sneak into your Inbox because they look like plain text. That’s not by accident, my friend.

And I bet newsletters from Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, Jeff Walker, and other online marketers are showing up with fewer wizbangs and more plain text.

Marie Forleo is super smart, including a gif in her newsletters. (Gifs are short moving images, not videos — kinda like what friends might send to each other.) — what a great hack and I encourage you to give it a try too!

Here’s why this is happening: email service providers like Gmail and Yahoo can scan your email’s code and discover images, colors, and links, and they’ll shuffle those puppies into the Promotions folder.

If your goal is to end up in the Inbox, not the Promotions folder, try sending a more “plain text” looking newsletter.

Add photos and videos to your blog and send people there.

The key is to get people to take action.

Don’t just believe me? Test it. Take note of your open rate now. For your next 3 email newsletters, take out the colors and photos and compare the open rate. I bet it will go up!

What else can you do?

One super effective way to make sure you end up in the Inbox and not the Promotions folder is to get people to reply to your emails. So, ask an engaging question or write a newsletter that people simply must reply to. That will signal that you’re a real person and not just a business-y business.

Take Action Now

Now that you know how to design (or not design) your emails, make sure you have an Editorial Calendar full of valuable content for your subscribers. It’s my free gift to you! Download it here.