What email marketers need to know about Gmail tabs

A new format means your emails may not get top billing

There are a lot of emails competing for attention in your inbox, and Gmail’s recent introduction of tabs to organize messages into categories is intended to give you an at-a-glance understanding of what’s new. There are five default tabs: Primary, Promotions, Social, Updates and Forums. What this means for marketers is that your Labor Day Sale email will no longer go to a desktop/mobile Gmail user’s primary inbox page.

The short answer to your panicked question about what can be done is that there's no magic spell Emma or any other email service provider can cast to force your email to the Primary tab. Your campaigns will deliver to a recipient’s Promotions or Updates tab, if they haven’t already deleted some categories. (I've removed my Updates tab, and I'm sure others have reorganized as well.) Any email that looks like it's from an ESP – such as having opt-out links in the content, which is a federal requirement – will go to the Promotions or Updates tab. If only the Primary tab is displaying, your campaign will deliver to that main tab.

Gmail offers multiple inbox styles, so if you’re a Gmail user yourself and wish things could go back the way they were, back when your mom still packed your lunch, you can change your inbox type.

Since this is a new modification, time will tell whether it’s more effective to lump together like emails, with people visiting their Promotions tabs when they’ve more time to read/shop. As someone who receives a figurative ton of daily marketing emails, I’m loving the categories on my desktop but  still use my iPhone’s native mail app. What about you? I’m interested to hear your impression – Leave a comment below or give me a shout @emmaemail. Ten points to Gryffindor if you can name the group singing in Gmail’s introduction video.

Oh, and want to nerd out a bit more? You can use the third-party script Gmail Meter to learn more stats about your inbox habits – like how many messages you star, how long it takes you to reply and if you’re overly verbose in your replies (guilty) – and Account Activity to find your top Google searches and how many emails you’ve sent/received each month.