Have you ever noticed that when you search for something in Google, occasionally some results will have extra details with them?
This can range from displaying step-by-step images for how to tie a tie.
To including reviews, cooking time and number of calories in a recipe.
If you’ve ever wondered how websites get these extra snippets of information attached to their results, the answer is structured data.
What is structured data?
Put simply, structured data is code that’s been written in a specific format (known as schema) that makes it easily read and understood by search engines.
When Google then reads this data, it’s able to display it as ‘rich’ results in its search and other services.
Of course, this is not just limited to recipes and instructionals, but also a wide range of other types of data ranging from movies to online courses. You can view a Google’s Search Gallery to see which times of structured data they use.
Having these rich snippets appear in search results not only helps boost click-through rates for marketers, but also improves the searcher’s user experience as they have a better idea about what information results contain.
On a side note, just because you add this data to your site in the right format it doesn’t automatically mean that Google will display it. Google also uses other signals to determine whether or not to display rich results, which they tend to keep secret.
Structured data is now appearing in Gmail
The use of structured data to improve results in search engines has been around for years now. And has especially gained momentum lately.
What we are now seeing is it slowly making its way into people’s inboxes. Especially with Gmail.
And while at the moment, email structured data doesn’t have the breadth as with search results, it’s a safe bet that it’s use will only continue to grow.
Examples of structured data in email inboxes
You may already be able to think of examples of structured data appearing in your own inbox. But in case you haven’t noticed it yet, here are some examples from Google.
A check-in call-to-action from a flight reservation
Dropdown menu for a calendar invite.
Rich data snippets for an email in Gmail.
If you are a Gmail user, you probably already recognize some of these. Even if you’re not a Gmail user, you likely recognize how useful this is for helping you keep on top of your inbox.
Structured data and your email marketing
If you’re an email marketer, you also probably recognize that adding structured data to emails has benefits beyond just improving the user experience.
Just like with search, adding structured data will help your emails stand out from the sea of others that flood your subscribers’ inboxes. As such, it’ll also help you boost the number of people opening and reading your emails.
Another powerful use is highlighted by this example from Google.
Examples of promotional emails that have been marked up with structured data.
In this example, even though the top two emails are older, they’ve remained at the top of the inbox and are listed as being ‘Top Deals’.
Being able to effectively ‘pin’ your marketing emails to the top of your subscribers’ inboxes is something email marketers dream of doing. Now you can come incredibly close to doing exactly that and the sooner you take advantage of this before your competitors do, the more effective it’ll be.
How to add structured data to your emails
Unfortunately, utilizing schema markup for emails isn’t currently as easy as it is with web pages.
At the moment, you need to be approved by Google for structured data attached to your emails to start appearing in inboxes. Approval hinges on three main criteria, which are:
If you’re interested in upping your email marketing game with structured data, don’t be put off by these hurdles.
As long as you’re sending at least 100 emails to Gmail users per day and are not doing anything dodgy with your email marketing (like emailing people who haven’t opted in or pretending to be someone you’re not), you should be able to get access.
Links have been added to each of the guidelines above in case you’re interested in learning more.
Broader implications for email and email marketing
People love to announce the death of email, not just as a means of communication, but also as a marketing channel.
Digital marketers know just how valuable email is as an owned channel though.
And the fact that Google is investing into expanding structured data to email shows that the technology is still being actively developed and improved.
Expect to start seeing much more rich data starting to appear in your inboxes in the near future!
**** This is a guest post from Aaron Wiseman a marketing coordinator at SmartrMail. SmartrMail is the easiest way to send emails that delight your customers and get more sales. The app is integrated deeply with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and Neto ecommerce platforms. It’s been built from the ground up with a razor sharp focus on helping small to medium sized merchants achieve more from email.****