The Grass Isn't Always Greener In The Primary Tab

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, March 13, 2015
So you’ve been “relegated” to the Promotional tabs in Gmail. Accept it and deal with it. Or, embrace it! It is actually good news.

Let me explain.

The email inbox is a busy place -- and I’m not just referring to the number of emails that are sent to an inbox every day. I’m actually referring to how consumers use their inbox -- in particular their Gmail accounts, which have Gmail Tabs enabled.

Understand the inbox user’s mindset

Once we understand this, then it becomes obvious that the Primary tab is not where we want to be! Users who have Gmail Tabs enabled want to use the Primary tab for their (to state the obvious) primary tasks!

The bottom line is that an email’s arrival into the inbox can be very distracting. If our promotional emails are in the Primary tab, which is used for important communications, although we may get seen, we probably won’t be given the time and consideration that we are aiming for, as users are focused on answering emails from their bosses, friends, colleagues, clients etc.

However, the good news is that when they’re ready to view the promotional offers that they subscribed to and have adopted the “let’s check out what’s on offer” mindset, then they’ll pop over to the Promotional Tab and look at what offers interest them with a more-considered “shopping” mindset.

Very few retailers that I have spoken to have actually diagnosed that they have a problem because of the Promotional tab. Regardless, I am still being asked on a regular basis by brands on how to get promotional emails into the primary tab – because they think (not know!) that their emails being delivered into the Promotional tab is causing a problem.

 I actually believe this is the wrong question to be asking. Instead we should be asking ourselves how can we ensure  our promotional emails are going to be actioned when the time is right for consumers to avail themselves of our offers.

Even Google puts its ads there!

As my good friend Dela Quist of Alchemy Worx pointed out back when Promotional tabs were first released, even Google puts its ads in the Promotional tab, which means its strategists know they’re receiving a nice return.

Make the most of Gridview

Another consideration is Gridview, which was released in beta early 2014. Gridview allows you to engage consumers emotionally with the brand name, subject line and image all working together to tell a powerful story. This visual layout only appears in the Promotional tab and has been designed to assist brands with getting their promotional emails opened.

Gmail’s advice on this subject

Sri Somanchi of Google had some strong advice regarding the Promotions tab. He says that promotions are meant to be in the Promotions tab. Don’t try to game the system. If you are offered some sort of back way into the Primary tab, don’t listen to those consultants.

So my recommendation is not to fight it, but instead embrace this opportunity and make the most it. Let’s spend our time on answering the right question. Strive to make it work for you and test your subject lines to ensure you’re getting your fair share of the attention given to the inbox.

3 comments about "The Grass Isn't Always Greener In The Primary Tab".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, March 14, 2015 at 3:19 a.m.

    The gmail promotions tab shows the subject line and a great big picture, which you can specify in your email HTML. If you use a real-time image, then you can get across your message clearly and effectively - right there in the in-box - even before users click. More here:

  2. Jason Jedlinski from Twelvefold Media, March 16, 2015 at 3:46 p.m.

    Like your logic, Kath. Great to see a good, common-sense argument in support of understanding consumer mindsets. They matter! As much work as we put into optimizing the right message and targeting the right user, we too-often forget the need to connect at the right time.

  3. Kath Pay from Holistic Email Marketing, March 17, 2015 at 5:38 a.m.

    Hi Jason - thanks for your comment. Yes often we get so tied up with Best Practices and just getting our emails out that we forget to include the the consumer's mindset in our plans :-)

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