Gmail Tabs are Worrying Email Marketers: Avoid the Promotions Tab


Google recently released a new feature for gmail to help fight the uncontrollable inbox that everyone seems to find themselves fighting with.  Many people create rules and filters in Outlook or Gmail that move specific types of emails into specific folders and marks them as read or important.  Now Gmail tabs are worrying email marketers on how to avoid the promotions tab. Google has enabled a feature that takes care of 4 major groups.

  • Primary: For general emails and communications
  • Social: All of your social platform email notifications
  • Promotions: All marketing generated emails
  • Forum: Updates from forums or topic chat sites
  • Updates: General account service notifications

Here is Google’s introduction to tabs…

Promotion Tab Neglect: – The act where promotional emails are being filtered into a new category that is not regularly viewed by the the gmail user.

The Promotion tab is whats getting everyone freaked out.  Now all of your marketing emails are being filtered under the promotions tab instead of a users primary inbox.  So even if you make it past the spam filter, you’re now in a waiting bucket that users may not generally check on an regular basis.

How do you Avoid the Promotions Tab?

Step 1: Measure your open rates…

Start monitoring your open rates for “” domains and see if there is a sudden drastic drop in open rates from your gmail users.  If there is and your marketing messaging hasn’t changed much, then you may be seeing the result of Promotion Tab Neglect.

Step 2: Email Domain/IP Change…

After doing some digging, it seems that Google is filtering emails based on the domain it’s being sent from. For example, if you’re using Marketo or MailChimp, even though the email from address is “” the email is coming from a known email marketing company and is being sent via a Marketo or MailChimp domain.

Marketo has just initiated a reach out program to update their clients email send domains through Marketo. This is so emails being sent through Marketo are no longer running through their email domains and IP’s and will come from yours.  This can help fight an automatic filtering to the promotions tab, however this may push you over to the “Updates” tab instead.  If you have a Marketo account you can read this support topic.

Step 3: More with Less…

If you’re unable to execute on step 2 or you’re still seeing a large drop off in open rates from Gmail accounts, try just sending standard text emails, or very lightweight HTML emails.  Instead of all the marketing layout changes, just send the email with a few lines of text and one call to action.

Now before you go crazy making these changes, you should really measure first.  There seems to be a growing number of people who don’t like the new tab set.  Take a look at this CBS post showing users how to revert to the old inbox.  Personally I like it, but new Google products have a very slow adoption rate with a large portion of its users.  Depending on the demographic you email to, you may not see any impact at all!

What are your thoughts, have you used the new tab interface and are you at all seeing any increased drop off rates?

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