You may have noticed that Gmail is currently rolling out a redesign which enables emails to be filtered into four separate ‘tabs’; Primary, with personal and important emails, Social which shows updates and emails from social networks, Promotions which is where marketing and advertising emails will be based, and Updates which shows Android emails. This means that marketing emails will no longer appear on the front page of people’s inboxes as default; causing concern for many brands over the potential decreased effectiveness of their email campaigns.

Gmail tabs

According to Google, the aim of this redesign is to help users deal with the email overload many face on a daily basis. However, such changes are surely to cause a stir as Gmail is now the most popular email client, overtaking hotmail in popularity last year. Marketer’s want their email to be the most prominent feature in a user’s inbox; at the top, above the fold and highly visible, especially within such a popular email client. Therefore in such early stages it is important to remember that the concept of filtering emails is nothing new – folders have always been available for users to create rules to separate and categorise their emails.

Additionally, the new redesign is not a completely permanent feature of the Gmail inbox; people can also switch back to original view if they are unsure of the new layout or feel that they are missing out on important emails. Do not underestimate your users; we live in a world of constant digital change where we are adapting daily to changes online; email, social networks and instant messaging have all seen rapid growth and changes year on year. User’s are likely to adapt to the new tabs and learn to check them regularly.

That being said, if you are still concerned about the new tabs, or if you find that you are seeing some adverse results in your reports, what can you do?

1. Monitor closely how this is affecting you as an individual business

Keep an eye on your email open rates paying particular attention to analysis of Gmail customers. Many businesses haven’t seen much of a difference as of yet, however be sure to keep track of your individual metrics.

2. Test what kind of content triggers the Primary / Promotions tab.

The exact algorithm that Gmail use to decide whether an email goes into the primary or promotions tab is unknown at this stage. Therefore it’s worth experimenting with sending addresses, images/ plain text and links to see if it is possible to get your emails straight into the Primary tab.

3. Encourage recipients to move your emails back to the primary tab

This means that you will potentially have to focus on creating content recipients don’t want to miss out on. Consider running a special campaign just for gmail users to grab their attention and increase engagement with your brand.

You will want to give extra thought to your subject lines to encourage opens when recipients do glance at the promotions tab, as well as sending campaigns at a time when recipients are most likely to be in front of their computers or mobile devices. This will increase the chances of your email being as close to the top as possible.

Once recipients move one of your emails to primary tab, then all future emails will also appear there – problem solved!

4. Be direct

Being direct can pay off when you are keen to get noticed, so consider sending a one to one plain text email with a subject line such as “Important information about your email newsletter subscription”, here you can ask recipients to move one of their newsletters to the primary tab so they don’t miss out on future communications.

5. Keep monitoring over time

The Gmail promotions tab is still new and like anything new and exciting, users will be keen to try it out, even if it’s for a little while. For this reason it may be too early to really gauge the impact of the tab on your opens. There are many contributing factors to take into consideration when checking your reports; have users gone back to the old view? Have they moved your emails to the primary tab? Are users now in the habit of checking the promotions tab?

Although the new promotions tab isn’t ideal for marketers it also isn’t the end of the world. People still want to receive email content from you – otherwise they would have unsubscribed! If you find that your emails are starting to slip through the net – they can still be salvaged with a little hard work and a few well-thought out re-engagement campaigns