One of the most common requests I get from our customers is to help them get their marketing messages into Gmail’s Primary tab rather than Gmail’s Promotions tab.

Gmail introduced “tabs” and “new inbox” in May 2013.  The new inbox routes incoming mail into categories which appear as different tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. This way you can simply choose which categories you want and organize your inbox in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance.

This new inbox created a sudden panic amongst marketers as they feared that the routing of marketing emails to the Promotions tab would decrease the chances of their messages being seen and accordingly would cause a drop in open rates and revenue.

Some companies started getting creative and deployed scripts, while others encouraged their subscribers to create plugins to overwrite the tabs. Unsurprisingly, these “solutions” didn’t work for long.

There were two points marketers were missing:

1.  The Promotions tab is not the same as the Spam folder

All of the tabs from Primary to Updates are all considered to be “inbox”. The Spam folder, on the other hand, is a completely different story. If your messages are routed to the Spam folder, it means a high amount of people have marked your emails as such.

2. The Promotions tab is part of the inbox 

The Promotions tab is just a different category of messages in the inbox. It basically routes marketing messages to a unique tab so the end user can review marketing emails all in one place.

Now, almost 6 years after Gmail’s introduction of tabs to the email world, marketers have noticed that having marketing messages routed to the Promotions tab can potentially increase open rates. Given that most of us receive a very high number of emails per day, from our friends, e-commerce sites, social networking sites, and banking sites, it has become more and more challenging to prioritize which messages we need to focus on first. There is a higher chance of people reporting spam on marketing emails if they end up in the Primary tab.

The reality is that there is no golden rule to get marketing messages into the Primary tab! So, please don’t fight the tabs. They are designed to make life easy for Gmail users and increase the chance that marketing emails are read. If you’re interested in learning more about deliverability best practices check out our eBook: The New Rules of Email Deliverability.

~ Kate