If You’ve Had A Gmail Message Clipped Raise Your Hand
Exactly, we all have. But you need to know that having a Gmail message clipped is more than a nuisance, it means that you’re losing out in several ways.
A mailing list is your business’s lifeline to your customers, and when something stands between your message and it being read then you have to take action immediately to stop it from happening again.
If you have a mailing list and get your messages clipped by Gmail then you can expect less user interaction and lost revenue. We humans are lazy and making us click through to another page to see what you have to say is too much for a lot of people.
Adding to that, the deliverability of your list may be taking a hit as well which could land you in more spam filters.
Think about it. We know that mail programs measure open rates and message interaction and try to ‘best guess’ what is spam and what’s not, to deliver a better customer experience.
When Gmail decides to clip your messages they just ensured that fewer people are going to click through on your message and most will delete it immediately upon open.
That in turn could trigger a higher spam score. I’m guessing, of course, no one (not even Google I bet) knows why and how the thing works, but it seems like a fair correlation to me.
This is a sticky web that Gmail is weaving.
Fix For Gmail Clipped Message?
Nope. There isn’t any way for the recipient to stop Gmail from clipping their messages (there’s no setting for it), it’s completely up to the sender and Google.
Here’s what your readers will see if Gmail decides to snip your message (clip it).
The way that Gmail clips it is bad because they don’t even offer a teaser of the content; not the first line, paragraph or anything. The reader can either click a random link and hope it’s not spam or malware, or delete the email entirely; most will delete it I’m afraid.
It’s difficult to imagine what Google was thinking with this… from a reader’s perspective this clipped message looks totally like spam mail, even though obviously in this case it’s from IncomeDiary who we all know and trust.
And further, if you look at the image below this is where I clicked through and expanded the full message; it’s not even a huge message.
There’s 129 words in it if you include the full footer with unsubscribe options (773 characters with white space). Yet this Gmail message was clipped.
Curious, for sure. So I dig deeper.
In the Gmail message console (from the original ‘clipped’ message) you can click on the upper right hand corner and in the drop down menu select “Show Original” to see the original message with code. I did that and was surprised.
Behind the curtains of this innocuous little 129 word message is, wait for it… 1,882,158 characters including white space. Holy truncation!
I haven’t bothered to go through and see what is all in that code, because it frankly doesn’t matter. Gmail is going to clip your message if it includes almost 2 million characters… roger that?
I’m assuming that IncomeDiary had included some fancy CSS and perhaps a menu with options, various versions for responsiveness, etc…
It’s also highly possible that this error originated at Aweber from where it was sent, perhaps by an inadvertent pasting of some text or something. I’m just guessing in the wind here. We’ll have to wait until someone from the site weighs in on it.
This isn’t about IncomeDiary or this particular message, so it’s irrelevant but does highlight the larger problem we’re discussing here.
What About Gmail Truncating Emails
And this isn’t to be confused with the trimming of messages that sometimes happens as well, where you can simply hit the three little dots (ellipses) and expand the entire message.
In the case of clipped messages, you’ll still see the three dots but they’re not linked to anything and you can’t expand the message.
Google presumably thinks that trimming serves an aesthetic role, removing signature files, original message text, etc… , and only displaying the first paragraph or so of the new message.
Ppfffttt, whatever, that’s a complete guess, too, because Google thinks everything has to be a secret. What did Matt Cutts have for breakfast? Sshhh, delete that.
You’d have better luck trying to prove if NASA actually landed on the moon than to “prove” why and when Google trims or clips a message, and how to avoid it.
The Gmail message clipped phenomenon adds the “View entire message” link and removes your ability to simply expand the truncated message. That seems like a mild “punishment” to me and a way to urge mail senders to go light or go home.
With an estimated 60% of consumers owning a Gmail account, odds are that a large portion of your business emails are landing in a Gmail inbox.
Here’s how you’re business and your newsletters are being affected by having your Gmail messages clipped by Gmail.
- Some devices and apps are not properly displaying the “View Entire Message” link, so those readers have no chance at all of reading your mail.
- As you can see in the photo above where I clicked the link “View entire message” to see the full mail, when a message has been clipped and then displayed in a new window, the Forward and Reply buttons are gone. And so are your chances of that awesome message being forwarded to someone important or you getting a valuable reply from your readers.
- Because the message was clipped by Gmail they also removed the bottom of the message and the unsubscribe link. Now any unhappy customers can’t even unsubscribe without clicking the ‘View entire message’ link, they’re more likely to just hit the Spam button.
- I also assume that when a reader clicks to view the entire message that images and other things are removed, otherwise I can’t explain the almost 2 million characters in a 129 word message. So this results in some message degradation at the very least.
- Having a Gmail message clipped does more than force the recipient to open the message in a new window, Gmail also removes the ability to track open rates and how users interact with some links because that code is usually located in the footer of messages; throw those metrics out of the window.
There are a couple of ironies I feel the need to point out here.
First, the obvious one being that IncomeDiary’s post is titled “12 Powerful Tips to Dramatically Increase Email Open Rate”.
Then Google pulls a fast one and decreases their open rate. I love and follow IncomeDiary so this is a freak incident, be sure of that.
Second, as Brad Nickel pointed out in his mini-tirade against Gmail’s seemingly incessant inability to get their user interface right, Gmail is actually harming the very intention that they seem to have started with, which is making the messages load quicker for the user. See his post here. Brad writes:
“So, in order for me to see the entire email that Gmail wanted to have “load quickly” for me, I have to click a link in order to open it in a new interface element (tab). That doesn’t feel any quicker.”
But you’re in luck. Despite the potential pitfalls and anger-management issues that this might cause you, there are some things you as the sender can do in order to reduce your chances of having your Gmail message clipped in the future.
How To Prevent Gmail Message Clipping
- Keep each message you send to below 102 kb (Gmail’s hard size limit). That’s plenty for an email message and that only includes the html, not photos.
- Don’t copy and paste from MS Word or other programs because you may be adding unnecessary and inadvertent code to the email.
- Use a Fluid Hybrid design for your emails rather than full responsive, which will decrease some bloat (or go strictly plain text as some pros advocate).
- Remove unnecessary comments and code. Things like double space, tabs or white space in the code, and comments like <!– Hey this is totally unnecessary but I included it anyway –> are not needed and should be removed from your message HTML.
- Be sure to go light on words in email anyway. People are busy and time is tight… get it said and move on. I’m wordier than anyone you know, so I get it, I struggle with this, too.
- Read this article by TheMiddleFingerProject on how to sell anything in one paragraph or less, and laugh while reading it. It’ll keep you (and me) thinking about using your words wisely. By the way, it’s one of those pieces of content that I regard as epic because it does what it says it will in so few words. And the point sticks with you.
- If you just can’t possibly reduce the message in size to below 102 kb, then you have no other choice than to send the message in parts, which is a good strategy in it’s own right.
So there you have it. If you’ve been bitten by the Google truncation (er, clipping) bug then just know that you’re in good company, it happens to us all from time to time.
Now that you’re more aware of the problem what are your plans? Have you ever had a Gmail message clipped? And do you have any other tricks or suggestions for us to keep our newsletters and email blasts from getting snipped and snubbed by the mighty G?