How Gmail’s new inbox will affect your email marketing

Gmail is changing (again). Good old Google have just made life a little bit harder for email marketers across the world, as it has rolled out a new inbox interface.

Gmail’s new inbox was first announced a few weeks ago, and today my inbox has changed. Gone are the days of piling all emails in the same place. Gmail now separates your emails into a number of tabs, in which it says is part of an effort to deal with the information overload that is part of our daily lives:

new gmail inbox



There are 5 tabs which can be displayed, depending on your needs and preferences (as described by Google):

Primary – These are personal, person-to-person conversations which won’t appear in other tabs. You will be greeted by the Primary inbox when you log into your account.

Social – Messages from social networks, media sharing sites, online dating services and other social websites.

Promotions – Deals, offers, and other marketing emails.

Updates – Auto generated updates including confirmations, bills, receipts and statements.

Forums – Messages from online groups, discussion boards or mailing lists.


gmail inbox priority



If an email lands up the wrong tab, you can move the email to the correct one, or ‘star’ an email to ensure it lands in the Primary box. However, moving the email does not ensure that future communication from the same sender will make it into the new tab.

When sending email marketing campaigns, these are likely to be labelled as promotions, and as such won’t be seen by the user unless they physically enter the Promotions tab and view the email there. Some people would welcome this change with open arms – marketing via email is not everyone’s cup of tea.

But for us in the email marketing industry this poses new challenges. Not only do we have to contend with actually reaching the inbox and getting the email open, we must now get into the correct tab. If your marketing mail ends up in the Promotions tab, there’s a chance the email will not be seen, never mind opened.

Rumours are flying around the internet as to how Google is deciding which email ends up in which tab. After Yahoo announced they would be scanning email content to target ads, it is thought that Gmail may do the same and place the email depending on the content within the email.

Other rumours state that the placement depends on the IP address of the sender. If you have a well-known mass sending IP address, such as ours, then this will tell Google you are a marketing company sending marketing emails, and it will end up under the Promotions tab. It may also be down to the sender reputation or sending history. This is not 100% confirmed, and Google may use a combination of the two techniques to determine the inbox placement.

For now, we as marketers must ensure our emails are engaging, are wanted by the recipient, and have a strong subject line to urge the recipient to open the email, even if it’s classed as promotional.

Of course, the impact of the change will depend on your data set. If you are a B2B company, you may not be sending to a large number of Gmail clients, however, if you are B2C it’s likely you will have a higher number of Gmail users.

As with all email marketing, the only way to be sure of your email’s effectiveness is to test. Send an email, look at the responses and reports, and consider segmenting based on domain name. You could even change the subject line or friendly from name depending on the user’s client.

This email will be rolled out across mobile devices over the coming weeks and will look like this:




Good luck marketers! Let us know how you get on @Wired_Marketing.

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