Blog Post

Gmails New Tabbed Inbox - Friend or Foe?

A few of you might remember back in late May when Google announced a new inbox that “puts users back in control” by introducing a tabbed system, similar to organising email using folders. This new inbox works by automatically processing and organising email into 5 pre-set tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.

Users can pick and choose which tabs to use, disable them altogether, tell Gmail that they would like certain mail to go to their Primary tab by dragging and dropping them into place, or electing to have certain senders always get sorted into a particular tab.

However, if your recipients haven’t configured their settings then the likelihood is that your marketing messages will go straight to their Promotions tab.


Although these changes have been available to a select few for several months, they are now being introduced to all users as Google rolls them out across the board.

But what does this mean to you as a marketer?

Although you could safely assume that open rates will go down (several studies have recorded small but significant results confirming this), metrics such as click-through rates might actually improve as the people who do open your email will be more engaged and receptive to your marketing messages, having taken the time to actively seek them out during a break in their day. The new tabbed inbox will also prevent your messages from being pushed down the screen in the sea of social updates, promotional messages and personal emails we all receive on a daily basis.

Mailers might also notice that less recipients are unsubscribing from mailings, as their messages have already been prioritised and organised for them and are no longer getting in the way of their day to day email tasks.

Because of the evolution of the Google inbox it’s more important than ever to stick with best practices if you want to limit the effect that the Google tabs crossover might have on your engagement rates. As always, sending relevant and desirable communications which users will want to seek out and read will help, along with maintaining a clean data file and double opted in users.

For the time being there doesn’t appear to be a way to beat Google’s mighty and notorious algorithms and they haven’t released any information informing us of how emails come to be categorised into each tab. However, as always Variant4 will be bringing you tips and advice as and when it they uncovered.


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