RAAK_Blog-Header_4 must-knows to create an automated email flow

How to take advantage of the new Gmail tab system

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What Facebook is to social, Gmail is to email marketing. This platform, just over 6 years old, has grown into the biggest online email client. The reason for this success is the classic Google recipe: continuous evolution. Gmail blends in neatly with other Google services like Google+. They were one of the first to have a community-driven spam filter, and now they're planning on releasing Google wallet for email, so you can send money as an attachment…

And what about Gmail's new tab system? Emails are automatically filtered into the right thematic tab, so you can directly make the difference between your important emails, forum emails or promotional emails. Read more about this setup in the post we did on this subject in June. This new feature sent a shockwave through the email marketing landscape. Many experts announced the death of email on Gmail, and other doomsday scenarios popped up. But rest assured: there are plenty of ways to implement this change into your email marketing strategy and take advantage of it. Just take these two crucial rules into account:

 1. This is an algorithm, meaning it is constantly updated. So looking for that backdoor to get you in the primary tab is a waste of time. Soon enough, this tactic will be implemented in the algorithm.

2. The new tab system is a filtering interface to improve the customer experience. When your email lands in the promotions tab, it does not mean you end up in the spam folder. Gmail still has a spam inbox for unsolicited emails! And hey, Google's own promotional emails land in the promotional tab, and G+ updates in the social tab.

So if we take these new rules and insights into account, how should we adapt our email marketing strategy? Here are 10 hot tips to help you.

1) Measure the impact?

Find out how it has affected your email campaigns. See what your opens, clicks, engagements,… were before and after the new tabs. Only then will you be able to quantify the effect it has had on your email marketing

2) Test different versions?

Start testing your emails in a live Gmail account to see where they land. Researchers tested over 50 versions of one and the same email (with adapted headers, from addresses, authentication methods,…) Conclusion: all of them landed in the promotions bar.

3) Inform your readers?

You'll find lots of examples of brands showing their readers how to land their emails in the primary tab. It's as easy as drag and drop.

4) Be relevant

Face it: your emails are jammed into one inbox with emails from all other brands your contact has signed up. And they're all screaming for attention. Your reader will probably lose interest. So needless to say: relevance is key.

5) Keep your content fresh?

You readers will spend less time in this inbox, so be sure to keep your content fresh. A 12 -hour promotion deal is not a good Gmail campaign. You can tackle this by using dynamic content, that is assembled when readers open the email, and the latest promotions are displayed.

6) Invest in welcome programs?

Order confirmations, welcome messages, updates,… most of these emails land in the primary tab. So make full use of those automated and transactional emails for a maximized customer experience. Also use these emails to remind your readers how they can ‘drag' your brand into the primary tab.

7) Think mobile?

Mobile engagements will be higher than desktop engagements. Readers are likely to scan the promotions tab while they're on the go. And when accessing their email accounts on iPhone or iPad, all emails are centralized. Knowing this, make sure your email is responsive and your landing pages are optimized to be viewed on mobile.

8) Switch to text emails? 

Not necessarily. HTML versus text is not a determining factor to make your emails show up in the primary folder. Consumer preferences, past history, and a few evolving rules drive the placement. It's a proven fact that a number of non-HTML, text-only emails keep landing in that promotional folder.

9) Engagement is key?

Engagement is one of the keys in the algorithm. If you get high (or rather very high) engagement rates from your contacts, it's likely all of your emails will land in the primary folder.

10) Don't trick your readers

We've heard about tactics that are kind of shady… Fake from addresses, split ip-ranges that are jammed up by fake accounts that constantly click, emails lacking an unsubscribe link or legal information. Stay clear of all this trickery: your brand value will go nowhere fast.


Don't let Google's new tab system scare you off. Learn to take advantage of it and always keep in mind that the promotional folder is NOT the spam folder.

Posted on
Sep 5, 2013