Should You Embrace the Gmail Promotions Tab in Your Email Marketing?

Email
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Published:
Sep 26, 2023
🕒 6 Min Read
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In an era where our inboxes are bursting at the seams with newsletters, promotional offers, and cat memes, it's crucial to stay ahead of the game. But as we maneuver through this digital landscape, we encounter one particular obstacle: the dreaded Gmail Promotions tab, (cue the suspenseful music), dun dun dunnnnn.

The Promotions tab offers a unique way to organize and prioritize promotional content within Gmail users' inboxes. However, since its inception, it has been met with mixed reactions, with some embracing its potential for enhanced organization and engagement, while others remain skeptical about their emails visibility once designated as a promotion.

Today, we'll explore whether embracing this tab is wise for your email marketing strategy.

Let the fun begin!

What is the Gmail Promotions Tab

Female viewing Gmail on her phone

Before going further, it's essential to understand what the Promotions tab does. Introduced in 2013, the Gmail Promotions tab is a feature that automatically categorizes marketing emails and separates them from the primary inbox. This feature aimed to declutter users' inboxes and offer a more streamlined email experience. Emails classified as promotional content are filtered into this tab, making them easily accessible to users but distinct from personal and important messages.

Gmail now has 5 tabs. Let's take a quick look at what each tab is meant for:

  1. Primary: This is for personal emails and emails from people you know.
  2. Social: Messages from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Quora, etc.
  3. Promotions: Marketing emails, advertisements, and promotional content from various brands and companies.
  4. Forums: Messages and updates from online forums, discussion boards, and community-based platforms.
  5. Updates: Automated emails such as confirmations, receipts, and other transactional messages.

How the Gmail Promotions Tab Works

The Gmail Promotions tab is like a diligent butler for your inbox.

No, no, not that that butler (sorry Austin).

This digital butler, categorizes and sorts marketing emails so your primary inbox remains a haven for personal and important messages.

Emails are commonly directed to the Promotions tab due to Gmail's utilization of an advanced algorithm for sorting and arranging incoming emails.

This algorithm assesses a range of factors, including the email's content, the sender's reputation, user actions, and interaction trends, to establish the appropriate destination for the email.

Key Takeaway: The Promotions tab is NOT the spam folder, I repeat, NOT the spam folder. So, even if your fabulous marketing emails end up there, Gmail users can still interact with them. Plus, super-engaged contacts have the power to move your emails to their beloved Primary inbox.


Why the Gmail Promotion Tab Became Feared in Email Marketing

You might be thinking, if you have an iPhone, pfft, who really uses Gmail for their emails anyway? Well, Gmail is the go-to email platform for over 1.8 billion users worldwide and accounts for 27% of all email opens. It's incredibly popular!

The tabbing system became feared due to its potential to relegate carefully crafted marketing emails to what seems like digital purgatory. Which is why it's Promotions tab has garnered a reputation in the world of email marketing that's far from friendly. This shift in Gmail's interface aimed to enhance user experience by decluttering the Primary inbox, but it inadvertently created a significant hurdle for email marketers. The fear lies in the uncertainty of whether your well-planned campaigns will ever reach your audience's eyes.

As algorithms continually evolve and user behavior shifts, cracking the code to land in the Primary inbox consistently has become an ongoing challenge for email marketers, making the Gmail Promotions tab a formidable adversary in the quest for inbox supremacy.

The Case for Embracing the Promotions Tab

While many marketers lament the fate of their emails ending up in the Promotions tab, others argue that it's a blessing in disguise. Appearing in the Promotions tab is essentially securing a spot in the inbox. Moreover, it brings several advantages, benefiting both marketers and subscribers. In fact, in Mailjet's Email Engagement Report, 53.3% of people with Gmail accounts use the Gmail tabs feature. Out of those, a whopping 79.7% check the Promotions tab weekly, with 51% doing so daily. Pretty interesting, right?

Here are some additional reasons to embrace the Promotions tab:

  • Brand Exposure: With its new email annotations feature (which we'll touch on below), businesses and marketers can make their emails stand out and provide valuable information at a glance.
  • Enhanced Subscriber Experience: The Gmail Promotions tab is a designated space where promotional emails are grouped together. This means your promotional emails will no longer clutter users' primary inboxes, making subscribers less likely to unsubscribe or mark the message as spam.
  • Higher Engagement Rates: Though the Promotions tab may seem like a barrier to engagement, it can lead to more qualified interactions. Users who navigate to the Promotions tab are often more receptive to promotional content. They may actively seek deals, discounts, or updates from their favorite brands. This leads to better open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
  • Email Deliverability: Gmail's Promotions tab encourages businesses to adhere to email marketing best practices. By sending relevant, engaging content, you reduce the chance of your emails being marked as spam. So, if your marketing email lands there, give yourself a high-five! You've successfully dodged the spam filters and shown Gmail that your email is valuable!

Recent Updates: Gmail Email Annotations

Gmail annotations example

In 2018, Gmail introduced a new method for leveraging the Promotions tab rather than evading it: email annotations. Made exclusively for the Promotions tab on the Gmail mobile app, it gives developers and brands with advanced email marketing programs an extra edge.

Once seen as the less desirable section of the inbox, these annotations allow marketers to include unique email content, making your emails stand out and be more attractive in the inbox. It's Google's way of saying, 'Hey, the Promotions tab ain't so bad after all.'

To utilize these annotations, you must apply a specific Schema markup, then you'll be able to include product carousels, call to actions at the inbox level, promotional offers, and more.

Sure, using annotations still lets Gmail know that your emails are promotions. But the great thing about annotations is that they allow you to display more preview content than just the subject line and pre-header text. By adding the annotation code to your email, subscribers can see your logo, coupon codes, and featured images right below the subject line in their inbox.

How Do I Get in the Primary Tab?

Not yet convinced? Although evidence implies there's no need to worry about ending up in Promotions, what if you genuinely desire to be in the Primary tab? Let me emphasize that the Promotions tab is actually a type of inbox, not a spam folder.

It is impossible to know exactly how Gmail's algorithm works; one day, your email could land in Primary, while another day, that very same email might land in Promotions. If you are looking to land in the Primary tab, here are some tips on how to get your emails there:

  • Avoid Spam & Marketing Words: Try not to use salesy phrases or any words related to discounts, promotions, or offers, as they may trigger filters. Here's a list of spam trigger words you might want to avoid.
  • Send Shorter Emails: Emails that are short and sweet tend to resemble those one would send to acquaintances.
  • More Text the Merrier: The Gmail algorithm is highly advanced and can distinguish between emails sent by an ESP and those sent by a human, so consider using plain text emails instead of HTML-based marketing emails. At best, maintain a text-to-HTML ratio of 60:40.
  • Avoid Excessive Links: Marketing emails and conversational emails differ greatly in terms of links. To ensure your email lands in the primary inbox, minimizing the number of links is crucial.
  • Reduce Your Images: Using a design with excessive images in emails can affect their placement in the inbox.
  • Personalize: Addressing the subscriber by their first name is a method to demonstrate to Gmail that you have a personal connection with them.
  • Encourage Engagement: Ask recipients to reply to your emails or add your address to their address book.
  • Send High-Quality Content: Provide meaningful and valuable information that encourages recipients to open and engage with your emails.
  • Improve Your Sender Reputation: Send targeted emails to engaged segments and avoid sending them to your entire email list.

That being said, trying to land in the Primary tab may result in visually less appealing emails due to limitations on length and content. Moreover, there's no assurance that your campaigns will be categorized as Primary.

Instead of fighting it, I suggest embracing the tab!

Maximize Your Marketing Potential with Gmail's Promotions Tab!

With its polarizing reputation, the Gmail Promotions tab is not an obstacle to fear, so forget about stressing over whether your email landed there or not. Instead, concentrate on delivering valuable and relevant content to your audience.

Good email deliverability is crucial in email marketing as it directly affects the visibility and performance of your email campaigns. Make sure your emails avoid the spam folder and instead make use of Google's Promotions tab. This way, you can ensure that your emails reach your recipients' inboxes, leading to greater engagement, conversions, and overall campaign success.

Remember, it's not about the tab; it's about your ability to create captivating emails that resonate with your audience.

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