Recently, a few people spotted favicons appearing on emails in Gmail. Read Write Web traced the new feature to Google’s Enhanced Content feature, as mentioned in a Google Help page last updated in July:
If you’re subscribed to receive email from certain senders, the messages you receive from them will be enhanced with an interactive gadget that has up-to-date content from their website (you’ll also see an icon in your inbox identifying these messages).
That’s right: an interactive gadget inside your email. RWW imagines a future for Netflix emails (one of the favicons spotted) featuring a widget/gadget to let you add movies to your queue right in Gmail. The Google Help page give the example of Baby Center’s pregnancy bulletin including top baby name lists or a baby name of the day. (Not what I’d call “interactive,” but okay.)
In the page, Google says the feature not only ensures that we know the email is from the purported sender (cross your fingers for putting an end to eBay and bank phishing!), but allows real-time interaction between the service without leaving Gmail. “We’re currently testing this with a small number of senders,” said the page (again, last updated in July), “and will decide whether to make it widely available based on user and partner feedback.”
RWW points out another benefit for marketers:
This sort of interactivity is sure to be an email marketer’s dream as it allows for whole new levels of user engagement with the brand. Instead of simply dismissing the email with a click of the “delete” button, recipients might find themselves actually taking the time to read through what were once thought of as “throwaway” messages. In this information-overloaded era where out-of-control inboxes have many email users declaring email bankruptcy, doing mass deletes, and filtering all non-personal email to other folders, any extra incentive to not delete or ignore an email is a feature which marketers are sure to take notice of.
What do you think? Would a favicon speak to you enough to get you to open a message? Are you interested in interactive real time gadgets in your email, and if so, what kind?