A study finds email newsletters aren't generating as many open or clickthrough rates, which is perhaps a symptom of the new Gmail inboxes.

Consumers aren’t responding to email messages the same as they used to, according to the latest data from Epsilon. The Q2 2013 Email Trends and Benchmarks report found email open rates dropped 8.3 percent quarter over quarter, while average click rates decreased 0.7 percent. As prospects open less brand content, it’s up to marketers to ensure every message that’s opened contains exactly the right information to compel readers to convert.

This drop in email engagement isn’t necessarily shocking. Brafton recently reported that Google’s Gmail inbox updates were expected to impact open rates. The revamped inbox segments promoted content from primary and social messages. Because consumers now have to take another step and click to a separate tab to see sponsored messages from brands, it makes sense the recipients are less likely to click messages if they aren’t interested.

Some marketers worried that segmenting corporate messages wouldn’t prevent brand advocates and qualified prospects from continuing to open content about promotions or exclusive news.

If Epsilon’s reported open rate dip proves more than an isolated trend companies will face inbox challenges – but this doesn’t mean email marketing is losing its impact. It tells brands that it’s time to tighten up their approaches. Long gone are the days when internet users are willing to sift through spam messages to get to the valid offers in their inboxes. They have come to expect only the most relevant offers which they’ve requested to receive are addressed directly to them.

To meet these expectations, marketers must become increasingly familiar with their target audiences in order to create messages that truly speak to their needs and desires. Gaining this intimate understanding of users requires social listening, careful analysis of content analytics and consideration of consumers’ feedback. When content writers understand who they are speaking to, they can create highly specific pieces that readers will want to open (even if it means navigating to a new tab).

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.