Zeta Blog

Gmail Promotions Tab: Good News or Bad News for Marketers?

Posted by Gillian Ahouanvoheke on September 12

Google has done it again - struck fear in brand marketers making the inbox challenge even more elusive. What is yet to be fully understood is the impact on Gmail performance. Since May, Google has rolled out the new inbox which helps recipients see which emails they want to read. Brands are still waiting to determine the long term effect on Gmail engagement for emails relegated to the promotions tab.

Consumer response has been mixed. Gmail is known for deciding what is in the best interest of its patrons and forcing new behaviors in email consumption since its inception in 2004. This leadership has been credited for its rise to a 29.7% share of US email inboxes as well as to the many groups voicing their privacy concerns.

Similar to other email marketers, Zeta has seen mixed results since the institution of the new inbox. A seasonality effect is occurring as rates will rise again during holiday season. While seasonality is certainly playing a factor, the combination of inbox struggles and the new inbox will continue to be a challenge. Marketers will need to address the new tabs as well as monitor inbox placement.

Some marketers are addressing the concern by asking recipients to directly move the email to the primary tab. Tactics range from placing the request in the pre-header similar to other white-listing tactics to sending out multiple dedicated emails requesting the move.

“Please click on the star icon next to “Brand Name” in your Gmail inbox to ensure delivery of our newsletters.”

But, is the promotions tab a bad thing? Will customers become familiar with the location of marketing messages making opens and clicks more intentional? An email once flagged as a promotional email with an unsubscribe link not only competes with other marketing emails but also the native Gmail inbox ad placements. Emails with personal data even if promotional in nature appear to be landing in the primary tab. This is good news for financial institutions and products as they may be able to circumvent placement in the promotions tab altogether. The hope certainly is that a visit to the promotions tab will be intentional and not just treated as a junk folder. A visit is hopeful to elicit members to peruse the tab during their downtime.

Zeta recommends exploring the Gmail tab effect on your program by examining email engagement pre and post new tab. If you are seeing a decline, try some of these tactics:

  • sending a dedicated multi-touch request to ask recipients to move the mailer to the primary tab
  • measuring Gmail inbox placement to rule inbox in or out as a cause to a decline in performance separate to the new tabs
  • exploring with subject lines that are less promotional and more informational in nature

Recently, I’ve seen emails from the same brand with the same from address ending up in both the primary tab as well as the promotions section. The subject line, “Ending soon! Shop now to take advantage of our Baby Sale,” clearly promotional did indeed end up in the promotions tab. However, from the same mailer with the same from address the subject line, “Deferred Repayment,” which sounds more essential to account information appeared in the primary tab. From the same mailer the more clearly promotional message, “Celebrate restaurant Month with Double Cash Back for College,” also ended up in the primary tab. Clearly Gmail is looking at more than a presence of an unsub link, a transactional message and an email with personal identifiable information to place a message in the primary tab leaving the door open for subject line exploration.

We’ll keep monitoring our email programs and in the next few weeks will post some results to the primary tab email stream as well as any more anomalies we find. Until then, tell us what you’ve seen or let us know if you need help setting up your dedicated Gmail campaign or to understand your inbox placement.

Topics: Email Marketing