Email Marketing and the Inbox:  Tabbed Inboxes

Ok folks,  let’s talk about tabs.  There has recently been a bit of an online kerfuffle over Gmail’s new tabbed inbox format.  This isn’t a mandatory shift - users will be given the option to choose their inbox style; and some may choose tabs. 

What’s the problem? The concerns that email marketers have with this new format include worrying that their emails will not be opened in a timely manner or even at all.  While not nearly so bad a fate as ending up in the spam box with all the Viagra sales emails, being relegated to the third tab over in an inbox isn’t sitting well with some.  There is no way to sneak into the primary tab.  This system is designed to empower the user to look at a sorted inbox and Google stands at the ready to thwart all sneaky email configurations trying to tip-toe around that.

So what’s an email marketer to do? You can request that recipients move your emails from promotions to primary. The advantage to this is clear:  you’ll be front and center in their inbox and you will have less competition for their attention.  Before you send an email asking that all Gmail users put you in their primary tab, take a look at your stats to see if you are being affected. To do this, look at the number of opens over a period of several weeks. If you see a negative trend, take a look at your list of opens. Are you seeing fewer Gmail addresses than before? If so, time to draft that email!

There are three ways for users to move your emails to the primary tab:

1.  Click-and-drag the email newsletter to the primary tab.  Click “yes” on the pop-up inquiring whether to do that on future messages from that sender.

2.  Users can also right click an email and select “move to primary,” again answering yes on the pop-up.

3.  Users can use the search feature to filter their email.  After typing your sending address into the search feature, direct them to select the primary tab as well as the “never send to spam” option.

The moral of the story:  Whether or not the tabbed inbox feature will become a popular one is yet to be seen.  How this will affect email marketing is also unknown.  It is possible that tabs will be a useful tool that benefits marketers.  If you do decide to ask your Gmail tab-using readers to let you join their primary tab, be prepared with solid reasons for them to do so.  In the meantime, brush up on your subject lines and be ready with great, reliable content.  That’s what wins in the end.