What Do You Mean ‘Tabs’?

For the last few weeks the email marketing industry has been in a bit of a tizz over the introduction of Gmail’s new tabbed interface. The premise of these new tabs is pretty simple. In a bid to make email easier to manage, Gmail will automatically filter all incoming messages into 5 categories.

But that’s enough of my take on it, who better to explain it then Google themselves? (with some fairy natty music no less)



The new tabs have been rolled out across Gmail’s web client as well as their Android and iPhone apps. If you don’t like the tabs, it’s possible to switch them all off. Like some tabs but not others? It’s also possible to add tabs individually. If we had to guess, we would say that the majority of users will be leaving the tabs in their default setting.

What’s Going to Happen to My Campaigns?

With the new tabs in place, Gmail will automatically filter email marketing campaigns into the ‘Promotions’ folder.

This will include emails such as newsletters, discounts, event invites and new product information.

Transactional emails on the other hand will be placed in the ‘Updates’ folder. This is where order confirmations, receipts, statements and the like will pop-up.

How Is Everyone Reacting over This?

Initially (and in typical internet fashion) there was a bit of scaremongering going around stating that Gmail had ‘killed email marketing’. Now things have had a chance to settle, the overall response is a positive one.

Return Path have noted that subscribers who didn’t read that much marketing email before, now read less. Conversely, highly engaged subscribers are now reading more than ever before. Their report makes for some interesting reading and you can download it in full over on their website.

Should I Be Worried?

Nope! So long as you’re practicing responsible email marketing (Opted in & clean lists, relevant content etc…) you’ll have nothing to worry about.

If subscribers enjoy hearing from you and find value in your campaigns (which they always should) they’re not going to miss out on any of your messages.

This move by Gmail is only going to harm email marketers who were following bad email practices to begin with.

Phew! That’s a Relief! So, How Many People Does This Effect?

At the time of writing, Gmail’s market share stands at 4%.

While 4% of global email usage is hardly something to sniff at, it’s a long way off from the heavyweights such as the Apple iPhone (23%), Outlook (19%) & Apple iPad (12%). All of which are wholly unaffected by these changes.

Gmail’s tabs will only effect subscribers who open messages in the Gmail web client (in their browser) or Gmail mobile apps (Android & iPhone). This amount is actually smaller than you may think, Litmus have reported that 19% of all email read on Gmail occurs in the Gmail web client, with 34% opened on an iPhone and 20% on Android.

Can Anything Be Done About It?

If you have a few promotional emails that you really love, you can drag them into your ‘primary’ inbox and Gmail will route them there in the future.

Some businesses, such a Groupon, have been trying their luck by sending educational campaigns teaching users how to add their emails to the primary inbox.

It’s a clever tactic, but we wouldn’t be able to say how effective this approach would be.

Ok, so What’s the Bottom Line?

These tabs are still brand-spanking new, so it’ll be a while yet before we can draw anything concrete from them.

Our advice for now is to relax, but also keep an eye on your reports. Our account managers work with you to ensure that all of your campaigns are sent using the best possible email marketing practices. Any issues that may arise from Gmail’s tabs will be easily negated by these best practices.