Gmail Promotion Tab To Hurt Email Marketing Campaigns?

gmail eating email marketing for lunch now?Recently Google started rolling out their new Gmail layout.  This includes an out-of-the-box Gmail promotions tab, social tab and primary.  As someone who just created a new email marketing course for bloggers I know I'll have many students asking me what it all means. 

Primary will be all of your personal connections.  Social will feature anything involving social media and promotions is for anything promotional. 

This started a few weeks ago and is making it's rounds into the entire database of Gmail users.  In fact, mine finally updated, just earlier today and I've known others who were upgraded weeks go.

(Click Any Image To View Close Up)

Here is what this looks like:

gmail promotions tab


Notice the settings?

I would be slightly more worried if Google decided to make it to where the promotions tab doesn't show when you get an email.  But, here is acually what happens when you have an email in your promotional area.

gmail promotions in inbox


So the green light lights up to let people know that new promotions are in the inbox.  Not bad.

So on a standard desktop or laptop computer it's not too bad and we should still be able to see that we have emails over there.

Here is a quick view under the promotions tab.





My Initial Take On The Potential Impact To Harm Email Marketing

From a marketer's perspective it can certainly be scary wondering what is going to happen.

Will people see my emails far less?

Will people even know about the new tab?

Will people be confused?

These are all good questions!  My early thoughts are that we'll see open rates decline from our Gmail subscribers for awhile,but, they will increase back up over a small amount of time as people get adapted to the new settings.

One Thing That Will Hurt Open Rates

Mobile.  I decied to see what happens when a promotional email comes into my email inbox on my Android phone.

You know the little blinky green light that notifies you when you get an email?  It works fine for your primary emails, but, promotional and Social emails are getting absolutely no green blinky light love.

However, when I do log into my email inbox to check my emails on my Android I do see a social and promotional setting is atually right on top.

Check it out:

gmail promo tab on android phone

This is a screen shot I took from my wife's phone using my phone.  So I had to mark out her email account address and some of the promotions that she recieved for privacy.  Not that she wouldn't want to have some of my readers email her, I am sure she would love that!

Notice on top they have the promotion and social tabs.  When something is in either box the number of unread emails will appear there.  So while I think open rates will go down from an initial send to mobile devices I don't think it will kill the campaign so much.  However, that said, time sensitive campaigns MIGHT suffer some setbacks.

Think about this.  Let's say Macy's is having a sale and sends out a promotional email the night before.  Many of their customers might not see that intial email right away.

This is obviously not good for the advertiser or the reciever who obviously signed up forpromotional offers from the company.

One solution is to offer longer advertisement periods to get around this.  Optionally, send a couple additional emails to promote as well.

Still one of my hopes is that Google will realize this isn't helpful and turn the blinky light thing on for promotional emails as well.  But, who knows what the will decide to do.

So As An Email Marketer What Can You Do?

Well a few things.

#1.  Make sure you are always mailing relevant offers and not taking advantage of your list.  I mean, this one is common sense, but, with some of the shady junk I've seen go on, it had to be stated.  People will be more likely to look for your emails if they actually like you.

#2.  Ask them to add you to their Gmail contacts list.  This will get you included into the Primary list and likely get your offers seen more.  Like the next thing I'll mention, do this in your welcome email, not the confirmed opt in page.

#3.  Ask them to STAR your email address.  But, ask them to do this in your first email, not on the confirmed "opt-in" page.  Putting it on your confirmed opt-in page could cause some confusion resulting in the person not even confirmng their subscription to your email list (bad obviously).

Inside of Gmail this is what it shows when you're reading about the tabs.

starred gmail promotions

Notice the little check box near the save button?  It says "include starred in primary" and it's also checked by default. 

So encouraging your readers to do this will be helpful to your email marketing campaigns.  This way your messages end up in the Primary section.

#4.  Finally, get people into other channels that you own.  This can be social media like Facebook, Twitter and especially Google+, membership sites, Facebook Groups and anywhere else you have accounts.

So What Are Google's Motives?

It's hard to say right now.  It's being touted as a way to clean up the email inbox for the folks. 

Some believe Google has far more sinister goals; citing possible ads all over the promotional area.  Other's believe it's going to force advertisers to buy more ad spots with Google.

At this point, we don't know.

I for one am looking forward to what the large email companies have to say about this.  I also am looking forward to some large scale tests by these large email companies. 

In time we'll see how much this new Gmail layout will impact us email marketers but, like always, we'll adapt.

One thing I will tell you though, is to NOT give up on your email marketing campaigns.  Just be smart about how you go about it.

Questions, thoughts? Having an impact on your already?

Also, if you like this write-up would you mind sharing this with the world?  It means lot to me that you would share this information.  After all, isn't that what the Internet is for?

Michael Brown

I'm Michael S. Brown, Internet Marketer, husband and father. I have been successful in business and marketing since 1998. In 2007 I took to the internet marketing world and have never looked back. I love teaching people the knowledge that I have acquired and the ultimate boost to my ego is to see everyone I teach succeed in business. My goal is to make everyone who comes into contact with me as successful or even more successful than myself.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 16 comments
Rachel Keele - July 18, 2013

My Gmail just updated a couple of days ago as well. So far I don't really care for the changes, but since everything on the internet is constantly changing I know it is something I will have to adjust to. It will be interesting to wait and see what the long term impacts are going to be. As always though, we internet marketers will adjust and make the changes work for us.

Michael Brown - July 18, 2013


Thanks for your feedback. I agree it’s a wait and see on impact and I also think results will vary from market to market.

A couple people I spoke with this a.m. loved it and equally as many hated it. It’s a mix so far.

I’ll know more in a few weeks on if I love it or hate is as more results start coming in 🙂

Brent Partner - July 18, 2013

My gmail was updated 2 days ago and as a user I like it. From a marketing perspective, I don't think Google has an real ulterior main motives other than to improve the user experience. Sure there are probably other financial control reasons but usability is probably their main aim.

To get a little Darwinian, those that adapt to a new environment survive and eventually thrive. Those that fail to adapt do not. I think that the tips you have in your article are a great way of adapting in the new environment. Life is change – embrace it!

Michael Brown - July 18, 2013

Great words of wisdom there Brent!  I agree, I don’t think they have an evil plan.  I also agree that we must adopt as anything changes.  This goes for marketing and life in general.  If we let things beat us up, we fail before we even start.


chris - July 18, 2013

Thanks for the pertinent information on the new Gmail lay out. I'm going to forward to my friends.

Sheila Bergquist - July 19, 2013

I have to say that I really dislike the new changes. I don't know what impact it will have on everything, but it doesn't look very promising!

Stuart Stirling - July 19, 2013

Hey Michael, to be honest I was horrified when I first saw the changes and immediately thought.. 'this is the end of the world'!

But I actually think it could be a benefit for marketers.. because geuess what, a lot of PEOPL LIKE TO BUY.. so they go check out the "promotions" tab looking for stuff to buy.. If my emails get in the Promotion tabs great! I couldn't ask for more.. just as long as I stay out of the spam box which is hard enoug with Gmail, and has been for quite some time.

Ray - July 19, 2013

To me I feel Gmail is a joke it invades your privacy and throws Ads in your
face even when you set it to not do Ads! Service should be shut-down its completely
useless find another service your wasting your time!

Michael Brown - July 19, 2013


I agree it definately could be good for marketers in the long run.  The thing I believe will happen is since people already keep track of all the promotions that are from their favorite places to shop, they will likely be checking their promotions box still.

It may be confusing for them at first, but over a short period of time I think they will catch on.

I also agree with the SPAM issue, as long as that isn’t happening – it probably won’t be devasting to email marketers or companies that engage via email.

Michael Brown - July 19, 2013


I think many are echoeing your same thoughts. I tend to agree more with what Stu is saying, but, it’s all going to be a big wait and see.

Michael Brown - July 19, 2013


Wow that is some major hatred.

While I agree, the ads are annoying, I do think that you can easily find another free email provider and simply leave Google if you are that unhappy with them.

The point of my article was about how it will affect email marketers because the masses use Gmail, not necessarily the marketer themselves.

Thomas - July 19, 2013

Hello Michael,

Ya, I'm old school.. So i hate changes, But this is OK some times changes are good…. 🙂


Michael Brown - July 19, 2013

Thanks Thomas 🙂 

I too am somewhat old school on many things.  I hate when a company has a good ting and then changes.  However, I do think like you mentioned this change may be good.

Katie Bauman - July 19, 2013

I haven't seen the green light yet but in a way there are good points & bad points to change. It's how we accept the change that matters. Look at where technology is headed and the web is a highway in the sky, it can go anywhere.

When I'm able to get my sites, I'll find out.

Thank you, Michael for the info.

Katie 😉

Michael Brown - July 23, 2013

All great points Katie 🙂

How To Make Sure You Get My Emails (For Gmail Users) | Make Money Online With Michael S. Brown - Part 1 - July 24, 2013

[…] As you probably know Gmail recently changed their inbox layout as I discussed here. […]


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