LinkedIn Sued by Users

Ars Technica reports: "Four plaintiffs filed a class-action suit in US district court in San Jose on Friday claiming that LinkedIn used its member's identities without consent and broke into their third party e-mail accounts to send promotional e-mails to the members' contact lists."

It sounds like this is "upload your address book" functionality and that the plaintiffs allege that what happens next is poorly disclosed. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but it would be fair to say that I'm not a big fan of "upload your address book" as a list building strategy. I believe that even got Twitter blacklisted by Spamhaus back in 2010.

SpamArrest Loses in Court

Here's my take on it, and here's John Levine's take. I really like John's breakdown of the clickwrap license issue and detail on how the parties included email addresses in filings, leaving it to the judge to point out that this was totally unnecessary.

Mail merge?

Do you know what a mail merge variable is? I used the term the other day in an email to a coworker and they were confused. An email list attribute? A personalization string? What do you call those? What does your email platform call those? You know, the bit where you put in DEAR $FIRST_NAME, and it gets swapped out with DEAR BOB, DEAR EDNA, DEAR KATY PERRY, etc.

I call them mail merge variables, I guess. Mail merge predates the common use of internet email; I was doing it on an Epson dot matrix printer attached to an Apple //e, a hundred and fifteen years ago.

But how does this relate to deliverability? Well, at one place I worked, we had to implement a profanity filter for mail merge, because by default, the recipient's "friendly from" was the first name field submitted in the signup web form. People got...colorful...there. And they'd occasionally flip out if they received a marketing email, from a company they actually do business with, just because it said DEAR SH*THEAD on it. Geez, are people fussy, or what? Apparently, fixing that falls to the deliverability manager. So, I got to help define this functionality, and the set of words to watch out for and remove. (Special thanks to George Carlin for his assistance.)

Ah, those were the days.

Gmail Tabs Roundup

Do you have any other links to articles about Gmail's new tabbed inbox user interface? Leave details in a comment and I'll update the post.

Let's start with two from Ken Magill: His August 20th article talking to Kirk Gray of APUS, and his August 27th article explaining list lack of agony.

Act-On Software's Kent McGovern provides this overview and later suggests that it's too soon to worry, but suggests that you do watch your stats.

StrongView's Sean Wirt provides this overview of the new Gmail inbox. StrongView's Justin Williams wrote up this article for ClickZ, offering his thoughts on how to prevent yourself from getting tabbed out of existence. He provides more guidance in this good blog post, Responding to Gmail Tabs.

Stephanie Miller of the DMA explains that this "definitely changes the game for how consumers will behave in their Gmail accounts." Her article also contains links to more info from Return Path, Silverpop and others.

HubSpot's Ginny Soskey explains how the new Gmail inbox works and why marketers should pay attention.

From Lyris: Matt Strzelecki helps the reader get familiar with the new look and feel of Gmail tabs. Eric Dezendorf explains that Engagement and value win out. And Andrew King provides real life examples of "how to tackle Gmail tabs."

Here's an overview from Sendgrid's Brian O'Neill.

Bronto's Chris Kolbenschlag asks "Will Gmail's New Inbox Tabs Affect Deliverablility?"

MailChimp's Matthew Grove dives deep into the data, explaining how Gmail's new inbox is affecting open rates. MC's Knowledge Base team followed up with, "How do I get my emails to the Primary tab in Gmail?"

Over on Inbox Marketer's Digital Dexterity blog, Matthew Vernhout helps to answer the question, "What do Gmail Tabs Mean for Email Marketers?"

Constant Contact's Ryan Pinkham explains that, "for Gmail subscribers, we saw small decreases in open rates between May and June," but goes on to add that there's no need to panic.

Here's an overview (with inbox strategy samples) from Anne Koskey-Wagoner over at Ebay Enterprise.

Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise with a series of posts: Overview, Inbox challenges and dull email, and Good for marketers?

And from ExactTarget (disclosure: my employer), Mickey Chandler explains that "Gmail Updates Reward Recognizable and Consistent Branding." I explain that "Marketing Messages Aren’t Dead Yet." And Jay Baer and Kyle Lacy share their "Adventures in the New Gmail Inbox."

Update: Here's a couple more. One from Aweber's Amanda Gagnon, and one from Jordan Loriaux at Mailjet. Thanks to readers for pointing these ones out!

Ken Magill on Gmail Tabs

From his August 20th article talking to Kirk Gray of APUS: "The more I read about Gmail tabs, the more I think a bunch of folks are getting worked up over a whole lot of nothing."

From his August 27th article quoting another author's extreme concerns: "You know what I don’t agonize over? Gmail tabs. Send stuff people want and whatever the various inbox providers do with their interfaces will have little effect on you."

He's right. So far, the people I'm talking to aren't really seeing any sort of significant dip in stats. Time will tell, maybe it's just too new. But right now, I'm not worried.

There's a good caveat in Ken's second quote. It's worth calling out: "Send stuff people want." If you're shoveling large amounts of low-value content at recipients, Gmail tabs makes it easier for those recipients to ignore you. If so, you're probably going to have some struggles.