The New Gmail Inbox

On May 29, Google began rolling out a newly designed Gmail Inbox in which five separate tabs are used to group emails: Primary, Social, Promotions, Update and Forums. Essentially, incoming messages are filtered and routed to different tabs according to their category. Google says this new format puts users back in control to “see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when”.

Gmail Tabs

This move has marketers wondering how their email messages will be affected if incoming marketing messages all routed to the Promotions tab and not the Primary folder, which is most users’ default tab. Instead of opening their inbox to find all messages in one place, now a Gmail user will need to click on a particular tab to see messages that have been routed there through Gmail’s filtering process.

Is this new format really trouble for marketers?

Here’s a study conducted by MailChimp that found a small but noticeable decrease in opens by Gmail addresses. They’re “not willing to declare an emergency just yet” but stressed that marketers really need to think strategically about the content of their messages. That study is an interesting read and I recommend you check it out.

This Harvard Business Review article mentions a newsletter asking readers to “shake [it] free from the clutches of the [Gmail’s new] Promotions tab.” But is a note asking for that kind of action really necessary? As the article says “[t]he key takeaway for marketers is not new or groundbreaking, though it is more important than ever before. E-mail content must be engaging, relevant, and interesting to users. I love the community I find in my listservs. If those messages don’t appear in my primary inbox, I’m going to go hunting for them in the other tabs.”

And that, I believe, is the goal to which we should always aspire: sending engaging content that our readers seek out. Is this going to be a new tactic for you or business as usual?

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