Maria Wachal
Maria Wachal 24 May 2016

Anxious How to Avoid Gmail Promotions Tab? Worry Not!

Since Gmail’s introduction of three Inbox tabs, Primary, Social, and Promotions, marketers have been concerned about the conversion of their emails. As many say ending up in the Promotions tab can lead to a marketing message being overlooked in their recipients inboxes. Should we really be worried? Let’s take a closer look.

Email marketing drives results

Email is super effective when it comes to direct selling. It remains number one in the process of new customer acquisition and bringing people back to your website. It will remain a top priority for companies in 2016. In a recent study by Email on Acid, nearly three out of four companies (71.8 percent) are planning to spend more time on email production and more than four out of five (86.7 percent) will increase their email marketing budgets this year.
This is because email marketing leads the way in marketing channels as the most cost-effective tool! The Direct Marketing Association found that 66% of consumers made a purchase directly after receiving an email marketing message.


You want your emails to fulfil that potential and you want them to be delivered. The changes in Gmail matter to you because a significant portion of your audience probably uses this email client. Google's email service has over 1 billion active users worldwide!


How to deal with the Gmail Promotions tab

How to approach Gmail users? How not to waste your email marketing efforts? Check these 3 data-based arguments, from Return Path’s study: “The Tabbed inbox: How Gmail Changed the Way Consumers Engage with Promotional Messages”.

The Promotions tab is not a Spam folder

Gmail’s Promotions tab contains marketing emails and promotional offers. Nearly all marketing messages now land in the Promotion tab. However the fact that Gmail categorized messages for its users has meant that the number of spam complaints and number of opt-outs has actually decreased in time. Consumers learned that they can find newsletters they subscribed to in a special tab and they are actively browsing it.


Tabs increases Open Rates

Return Path confirmed the relatively low impact of Gmail tabs on marketing performance. Gmail has effectively created a secondary inbox expressly for shopping and tabs have taught Gmail users a new and potentially more efficient way to shop from their inboxes.

Tabs increased deliverability

Marketing messages are far more likely to be delivered since the introduction of the Promotions tab. 93% of commercial messages to the promotions tab avoided the spam folder.

Still want to avoid the Gmail Promotion tab?

SPF and DKIM Authentication

Make sure you use a good Email Service Provider that uses SPF and DKIM Authentication. Email authentication prevents email spoofing. At FreshMail we automatically authenticate all emails sent through our servers and digitally 'sign' your emails. A positive sender reputation enables you to avoid the spam filters of email clients and might even help you to also avoid the Gmail Promotion tab if the following conditions are met.

Use the Gmail engagement mechanism

Gmails “engagement rate” is an indicator of whether or not a message should land in inboxes. Try to encourage your subscribers to fulfil three signals that are important in the eyes of Gmail client:

  • to move your message to their inbox folder - Gmail will learn that your message is important and will direct it to the Inbox next time

  • to add you to their contact list - you will get whitelisted

  • to reply to your email - same as above

Stick to these email design rules

Bare in mind that this advice might not be suitable for all email marketing campaigns, and best suits senders such as those engaged in B2B and blogging, not ecommerce.

  • Have no more than 1 link in your email

  • Send plain text emails instead of graphic emails

  • Keep the language of your message conversational instead of promotional

  • Mention the subscriber’s name

  • Avoid spammy phrases

  • Keep your email short

  • Turn off RSS

Take a look at how Codecademy are designing their emails, they land in the Gmail Primary tab everytime:



For some type of businesses it is impossible to meet these requirements. But worry not. Don't fear the Promotions tab. Research conducted by Return Path shows that if you manage your content well and focus on engaging your subscribers you will still get the results you are looking for.

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