Andy Fenstermaker, MBA

Experienced Marketing Manager, E-Commerce Nut, Content Strategist, Event Planner, Social Media Manager, Music Critic, & Blogger.

Keep an Eye on Gmail’s New Promotion Tab

Gmail recently announced and launched inbox tabs; it has been a core topic for email marketers of late.

There are three standard inbox tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions. The final one is where email marketers have focused the discussion, and for good reason. It poses many questions:

• Will this tab simply be a forgotten receptacle for promotional-based emails?
• Could companies ultimately benefit in the long-run from the Promotion tab?
• How will this change affect open rates, click rates, and ROI?

These questions and more are being discussed. What remains consistent throughout, however, is a recommendation to inform email list subscribers of the changes and give them a choice (i.e. show them how) about where to house your emails.

But what is the impact of these changes? Mailchimp’s Matthew Grove took a look.

By the Numbers: Mailchimp Reports on Gmail’s Promotion Tab and Open Rates

Late last month, Mailchimp gave us a rundown on how the new Tabs are affecting open rates.

Like any good analyst, Grove took a large sample against which to compare the changes. By extracting Gmail delivery rates from the past year and a half, he compared it to data since the launch of the Promotions Tab.

Grove notes the possibilities of error in his finding, rightfully stating that there are not only hourly but seasonal trends in delivery and open rates. He compensates for this error by using data from 1.5 billion emails.

Here are his findings (again, courtesy Grove and Mailchimp):

Mailchimp Chart: Gmail Promotion Tab Impact on Open Rates

And here’s what he had to say about them:

Before the tabbed layout, open rates to Gmail had been above 13% for 15 weeks. They never dipped below that threshold unless there was a specific holiday. For instance, weekday opens for Gmail fell to 12.5% on the week of Valentine’s day. Open rates between Christmas and New Years are an abysmal 10.5%… open rates (have since) stayed down for 3 consecutive weeks.

A few percentage points drop is notable, but Grove isn’t too concerned yet — still, you can sure bet he and everyone else in email marketing will be keeping his/their eyes on the numbers.

The article was updated on August 1, and he reiterates what everyone else is saying:

I’ve tested something like fifty configurations of headers, content, and authentication and I’ve come to one conclusion. The best way to get into the Primary tab is to have your subscribers put you there.

How to clear Gmail Contacts for Your Primary Inbox

This is what email marketers are focusing on of late: how to clear Gmail contacts for display in Gmail’s Primary Inbox.

If you are unfamiliar with how this works, I’ll tell you:

Gmail Tabs

When in the Gmail Promotion Tab, drag the email you wish to clear up to the Primary Tab and release. This will move the email and prompt you with the following message:

Move Email to Primary Inbox in Gmail

Click “Yes” and all future messages from that email address will arrive in your Primary Inbox.

It works the other way as well. Dragging a message from your Primary Inbox to Social, Promotions, or a custom tab will prompt you to store all future messages in the new location.

How to Customize Your Gmail Inbox Tabs

I for one like the new Tabbed Inboxes. For one who gets a large quantity of messages, it makes the organization and management of your Inbox all the easier. You can add other template Inboxes and remove ones you don’t use. Here’s how:

Gmail Tabs

Revisiting the earlier image (above), select the plus sign at far right when in any Gmail Tab. This brings up the following box:

Editing Gmail Tab Options

Deselect the Tabs you don’t want to see and select the ones you want. It’s as simple as that.

While I like the flexibility of the new Tab feature, I would love to see Gmail take it one step further and allow for customization, reclassification and renaming.

Summing Things Up

So what’s the conclusion? The same as it has always been.

1. Supplement your email marketing by integrating it with other outreach methods: direct mail, social media, whatever makes sense for your business and — more importantly — your customers/audience. Maintain consistency in your branding and messaging; integrating your outreach will increase brand recognition and message recall in those who see it through multiple tools and tactics.

2. Make it meaty: ensure the content you distribute is high quality, engaging, enticing and has a viable call to action. Stories, images: these are both great to include in your outreach. You want your readers to remember you, so make sure your messaging is memorable.

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