Common Questions on Gmail Tabs and Answers for Email Marketing Performance

Common Questions on Gmail Tabs and Answers for Email Marketing Performance

What are Gmail tabs?

For anyone who uses Gmail as their email service, there is an option to filter incoming messages to land in folders. This is Gmail’s way of helping users weed through and prioritize all the email they receive. The promotions tab is designed to capture email marketing messages from businesses and organizations.

What’s the big deal?

Gmail has more than 1 billion monthly active users and continues to grow. If your email is delivered to the promotions tab, it is less likely to be seen than if it is delivered to the primary tab. You probably don’t even realize some of your contacts are Gmail users, because not all Gmail addresses end in Growing numbers of businesses and organizations have an email address at their own domain (, but set up through Gmail.

Does it really affect whether or not your prospects and customers receive your emails?

The answer to that is mixed. There’s no question that many users read their primary tab first and do not always, or perhaps ever check or see the emails in their promotions tab.

But to say all your Gmail addresses on your list aren’t seeing your emails is a gross overstatement for a couple reasons. The tabs are customizable. Individuals can remove the tabs, leaving only a primary tab or can choose to flag emails from you to be delivered to the primary tab, so not all users have them. Not all devices show Gmail’s tabs. Many smartphone programs don’t all show the tabs. This means an email in the promotions tab is being showing with the same prominence as an email in the primary tab to many of your contacts who read email on their phones.

Definitely Gmail tabs reduce your email visibility and open rates to Gmail users overall and you should work to reduce that impact, but know that not every Gmail user is affected. Email delivered to promotions is still far more likely to be seen than an email delivered to a spam folder.

What can you do about it?

There are many things you can do to improve email delivery. Best practices for tabs also include many best practices for overall email marketing delivery.

  • Ask contacts to flag your emails for the primary address.
  • Ask contacts to add your email address to their address book.
  • Personalize your messages with dynamic content such as first names.
  • Test your emails thoroughly. This should be done anyway, but errors such as broken links may affect you.
  • Watch your image to text ratio
  • Authenticate your email sends with best practices like DKIM and SPF Records
  • There are also tools you can use to test your email before sending to try to predict where it will be delivered and adjust before you deploy the email.