Are Your Emails Surviving Gmail’s New Tab Layout?


Google made some changes to its email program, Gmail, which some small businesses are still trying to navigate. The company implemented a new way to sort emails, called tabs. Emails are now filtered into one of the following five categories.

Primary – Emails from friends and family
Social —Messages from social networks, online dating services, gaming platforms, etc.
Updates —Notifications, including receipts, bills, confirmations, etc.
Forums — Messages from discussion boards, online groups, etc.
Promotions —Deals, offers and other promotional emails.

Here’s what a Gmail inbox looks like with the tabs:

New Gmail inbox

While Social, Updates and Forums may have little room for argument, the Google Algorithm determining whether a message is sorted into the Primary or Promotions inbox has become a point of contention for businesses.

Businesses have been left asking if they’d be better off getting their messages into the Primary inbox, and if so, how? Here are some things to consider:

The Upside to a Promotions Tab
A ReturnPath study of three million Gmail users found that the filtering didn’t leave marketers’ emails gathering dust in the Promotions tab. In fact, Gmail users adapted quickly, searching the “promoted” emails for offers and reading them at nearly the same rates as before the filtering system was implemented.

The Promotions tab seems to be helping promotional emails avoid the spam folder. That same ReturnPath study found that while only 77% of commercial messages made it through to the Primary tab, 93% made it to the Promotions tab. In addition, recipients were more than twice as likely to report an email in their Primary inbox as spam, compared to their Promotions inbox.

Primary Tab Considerations
For businesses that would still prefer to land in the Primary inbox, take note:

• The sorting doesn’t affect all Gmail subscribers, as the tabs are optional and can be disabled.

• In a ReturnPath study of “Move Me” campaigns—in which recipients were asked to drag the email to the Primary tab—only 61 of 65,507 messages requesting a move resulted in the change.

Tips To Get Into the Primary Inbox
Here are several ways businesses can increase the likelihood of their emails getting into the Primary inbox.

1. Use every opportunity to ask subscribers to add your company’s email address to their Google contacts, which always goes to their Primary mailbox.
2. Send the email from an account with a first and last name.
3. Use the recipient’s name. Google interprets individualization as personal.
4. Avoid “spammy” language, such as “Make money today!”
5. Keep it concise. According to Convince and Convert, the shorter the email, the less likely it will land in Promotions.
6. Layout your email in letter format to appear more like a one-to-one message.
7. Keep your content relevant and enticing. High open and click-through rates can increase your chances of ending up in the Primary inbox.

Has your business been impacted by Gmail’s new tabs? Share your experience in the comment section below.