Google’s at it again. This time, the object of its affections is Gmail. Today, Google will be rolling out Priority Inbox (link here). In a nutshell, application of this feature will automatically sift to the top of your email pile the messages deemed of greatest importance to you. When enabled, all of your messages will be sorted into three groups – “important and unread”, “starred” and “everything else” – and will be slotted in your inbox accordingly.
Look for the “New! Priority Inbox” message on the top right of your screen (it should be there within the next week or so). Then, simply set it up in your account and click yes when it asks you whether you want to enable the system. There are a few set-up options, such as manual selection of priority contacts and order of inboxes, but most of the magic comes from Google’s ability to read how you read your email. Google looks at how the mail is addressed (whether just you or to a group), which emails you open and respond to (and how frequently you do so) with respect to a particular sender and keywords in the emails you most frequently read. As you use the filter, you can instruct Google when it makes a mistake, such as starring messages that Google thought were unimportant and demoting those Google wrongly pushed to the top. Over time, it will learn your preferences.
Reports from people who have been using this service before the public roll-out indicate that the service is very good, but not perfect. But perhaps they haven’t spent enough time yet teaching the algorithm the ropes.
Obviously, from the email sender point of view, it will be important to consider how to phrase your message so that someone else’s Priority Inbox doesn’t demote your missive to the bottom of the heap. In other words, consider when and how to use group email addressing and what keywords to include in your message to ensure it will rise to the top. Sort of like search engine optimization for email.
Looking forward to trying this out – I get a lot of dreck along with the diamonds in my Gmail inboxes – interested in seeing just how effective Priority Inbox can be.
On a humorous note, I learned that Google considers email that is a cut above “spam” but lower on the priority totem pole to be “bologna” or “bacn“, the latter being email that a person has subscribed to, but isn’t regularly read or responded to. I thought people on the internet thought bacon was a good thing. There I go, learning something new every day again.