How email marketers can work with Gmail’s tabbed inbox


Gmail has a new inbox layout that sorts messages based on their priority, similar to opening tabs in a browser. Emails are automatically grouped into one of four tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions and Forums.

Every time you drag an email from a friend, a social notification, deal or invoice into any one of these tabs, Google automatically updates its algorithm so that future mails go directly to the category of your choice. Recipients set which emails have the highest priority and should always show in the Primary tab by dragging and dropping or starring important emails.

What happens to commercial newsletters and marketing mailers?

When subscribers don’t open promotional type emails, they aren’t considered important enough to be in the Primary box. Email marketers will find their commercial newsletters landing in the Promotions or Updates tabs, unless those newsletters are purposely dragged to the Primary tab by the subscriber or starred as important.

How can email marketers improve the priority of email?

Less engagement with emails means less priority in the inbox but email marketers can try these tips to correct a decrease in open and click rates in order to get their emails back on top.

  • Use double-opt in: Use confirmation links to confirm subscriptions and promotional participation as a way for subscribers to show they’re engaged and want to receive emails.
  • Allow preferences: Let users choose how much email they want to receive and how often they’d like to receive it. The more you know about readers, the better you’re able to target by email.
  • Be relevant: Let reader preference lead the right content to the right people and only to those who want to receive your emails. Find ways for content to be relevant, engaging and use filters to segment and target readers.
  • Encourage interaction: Boost engagement ratings by getting recipients to respond to emails by confirmation links or with an actual reply.
  • Re-engage subscribers: Segment recipients that haven’t read or clicked on a link in your emails in over 6 months, so that you can offer them exclusive content which will prompt them to engage with your brand moving forward.
  • Track results: Measure subscriber engagement, open and click rates to spot peaks and lows in results. Ideally, click rates shouldn’t lag too far behind opens.
  • Test continuously: Do A/B split tests to small sample groups and send the best performing version of the email to subscribers.