Gmail’s new tabbed inbox is making waves in the digital marketing community and for good reason. According to MailChimp’s blog, their recent study shows that open rates are down significantly for both weekdays and weekends, and marketing emails are now stuck in the “Promotions” tab instead of in the inbox. Out of sight, out of mind. So, let’s be honest, Gmail’s new Inbox tabs could look bad for Marketers.  So what should you do? How can you get people to take that extra step to engage with your content?
Instead of wasting your time trying to figure out a workaround, this is a wake-up call for you to create higher quality content and focus on sending messages that people actually WANT to read. The reality is, if you want it to get read, it has to be worth the reader’s time. This has never been more apparent than it is now.  If you’re not familiar with Google’s new rollout, meet the Gmail Inbox.

What does this mean?

The good news is your emails are no longer competing against Aunt Jenny’s homemade apple pie recipes and Mom’s pictures of the last family vacation. The bad news is the job of marketers just got a lot tougher. Marketers’ emails will now compete on a whole new level with other targeted messaging delivered to your potential prospects or existing clients. Marketers will have to start changing the way they engage and interest people in reading your emails. Companies will be forced to create content that stands apart from the competition, as they should be doing anyway.  Marketers will have to rise to the occasion and create interesting, engaging, original content. Revolutionary, we know.

But what about workarounds?

Many companies recommend circumventing the new Gmail Inbox by teaching your email recipients how to allow your content to arrive in the Primary Inbox. Changing email subject lines to be more “primary tab friendly” is another good bandaid but marketing teams can only think of so many attention grabbing subject lines before they all become white noise to your prospects.  Yes, you can use these shortcuts to work around this new update, but in our opinion it’s not the best approach. Why? Because you shouldn’t be spending your time teaching your email list how to migrate emails from one tab to another. If they like your content and it’s relevant to them, they will handle that themselves. You should instead spend that time working on better quality emails with a clearly defined purpose and value.
Another tactic some companies are suggesting is working the system. Groups are investing time and money to run experiments that test which subject lines, email formats and phrases will fool Gmail into getting an email into the Primary tab. Realistically, how long can you use this solution?  This is Google we’re talking about here people, a company made up of some of the smartest and most talented individuals in the industry.  You may be able to pull the wool over Google’s eyes for a few emails but honestly, there are better ways to spend your time.

What can you do?

What you should do is focus on what you can control. You can step up to this challenge as world-class marketers and increase the quality of your content to grab the reader’s attention. Now your subject lines will be up against other promotional subject lines, directly competing for the readers attention. You need to do a better job utilizing this space to clearly get your story across. Build quality emails with quality content that benefit your recipients.
Utilize the filtering of Gmail’s new Inbox to make a presence in several places within prospects’ mailboxes with items such as:

  • Using Social Media updates to support your Promotional emails within the Social Tab
  • Utilizing your discussion boards and Forums to stay in touch with your prospect base
  • Encouraging all of your team members to communicate directly with their prospects with 1-off conversational emails that will get into the Primary Tab


Finally, Steve Moody makes a great point that the addition of Gmail’s Tabs will change the dynamic of the time in which an email is viewed. Previously you would target a specific time in which to send an email to have the best possible opportunity to be viewed by your prospects. Where as now, “in the Tabbed Inbox, emails get to viewers at a time defined by the viewer.” Now you will need to redirect your content delivery based on the time in which your viewer opens your emails to more effectively meet your markets demands. Complex for sure, but with proper marketing automation tools you can start to better understand when this is happening.
This is a great opportunity for you, fellow Marketers! Step up to the plate and show your prospects how great you and your company are!

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