Native Email add-on vs. CRM Inbox Functionality

Many CRM vendors, including several of our existing reference integrations like Pipedrive and Close, build email clients directly into their platform, and we like this approach.  However, we’ve found the Gmail inbox approach is preferred for the following reasons:


They live in Gmail and want to stay there; often, these are people with labels/rules set-up to manage their inbox and who rely on snooze functionality and the various other continuously-improving features.

All-In-One experience

If they need access to other add-ons (e.g. sales enablement tools, contract esignature, etc) then they need to use Gmail if they want a one-stop-shop inbox experience.


Gmail Add-ons work on Gmail mobile apps (just Android now, but iOS is in beta), and for most outbound sales folks, this is where they read the majority of their email.

Native CRM inbox implementations are not going away, but nor are best-in-class email clients like Gmail and Outlook; there will always be a demand to draw top email-centric productivity apps to the side-bar in the form of well-designed add-ons. Cardinsoft makes it easy for cloud application vendors to add this functionality, quickly and cost-effectively.

Building Gmail add-ons and extensions

There are basically two ways to build a Gmail add-on or extension.

1) Browser extension. The browser extension manipulates the web page directly. The upside of this is that the developer has complete flexibility to inject additional UI functionality almost anywhere on the Gmail interface. This is also a downside, as it creates potential for conflicts if you are running more than one browser extension at a time trying to manipulate the inbox. Probably the biggest problem with browser extensions is they do not work well or at all on mobile, which is where roughly 50% of email is first read. The lack of mobile support is actually quite a large problem as it leads to users checking their email on mobile first and then dealing with the same emails again on their desktop – double the pleasure.

2) Gmail add-on. A native gmail add-on framework was introduced in late 2017 which solves the above problems with browser extensions. Only one add-on can be active at a time, and the UI has been constrained so it works well on both desktop and mobile. The initial support was for additional context while reading messages, and in the fall 2018, add-ons could also have a compose context (i.e. while drafting messages). Some developers may view the UI constraints of the new add-on framework as a problem, but we feel Google is onto something here and we have extended their framework to be usable in Outlook as well.