How To Stop Emails From Going To Promotions Tab In Gmail

Written by: Chris Donald

Published on: 04-04-2019

Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

Have you been observing a decline in the open rates for your emails, specifically with Gmail users? Gmail launched the tabbed inbox, which allowed them to segregate the emails into three tabs- primary, social and promotions. Very often than not, the that you send to your subscriber lands in the promotions tab, which is not very frequently visited. As a result, your brand’s visibility and open rates have declined in case of email marketing.

While the promotions tab has made life easy for the Gmail user, it has not gone down well with the email marketers. The reason being, your email that offers value to the customer, will be filtered by Gmail and sent into the promotions tab, and your subscriber is most likely to miss out the offer.

19.9% of the Gmail users never check emails that are filtered into the promotions tab. If you want to increase the user engagement for your emails, you may need to find a way to bypass the Gmail promotions tab.

What Is the Promotions Tab In Gmail?

Gmail intercepts incoming emails and scans the templates using a highly effective algorithm. If the email contains any triggers, they are automatically sorted into the promotions tab. As a result, the promotions tabs only hold marketing and promotional emails from brands. 

Now, this tab is not inherently a bad thing. Some users do prefer sorting their emails and keeping their inboxes organized. However, most users simply never open the promotions tab and only operate within their primary inbox. Consequently, the promotions tab affects your open rates and your email deliverability in the long run.

Why Are My Emails Going To Promotions Tab?

As mentioned earlier, Gmail uses smart systems to filter emails even before they reach the subscriber’s inbox. Unpersonalized mass marketing emails and ones with too many links are first in line to get sorted into promotions tabs.

Next, the algorithm targets emails with blatant promotional language and those with too many images. There are many more reasons, like longer text emails, extra HTML lines, irrelevant content, and using third-party apps that can get your emails sent directly to the promotions tab. 

How To Prevent Emails From Going To Promotions In Gmail?

Here are a few tips and ways that should help you know how to stop emails from going to promotions. Ready to begin?

1) Take Help From Your Subscribers

Customers are signing up to your email list because they are genuinely interested to interact with your brand. So, simply asking them to redirect your emails from the promotions tab should be enough. Of course, the best place to make this request is in your welcome email.

Most subscribers will actively search for the welcome email in all the different tabs, including the spam box, as they often contain confirmation links or unique discount codes. Therefore, the visibility of your request drastically increases as well as the chances of your emails landing in the primary inbox in the future. 

2) Improve Your Segmentation Strategy

Segmentation strategies can be instrumental in landing your emails in the primary inbox. Whenever you send the same email to your entire emailing list, the Gmail algorithm is alerted to mark the emails for the promotions tab.

The same happens when you are consistently sending irrelevant emails to all your subscribers. In the worst case, your emails will get marked as spam. Hence, deploying an effective segmentation strategy with a touch of personalization can do wonders for your email deliverability. 

3) Focus More On Emails With Plain Texts

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Similarly, emails with higher HTML lines will trigger the algorithm to identify your emails as promotions.

Overusing fancy colorful fonts, including DIV-blocks, and experimenting with custom colors using CSS scripts will definitely make your emails stand out during the scanning process. Emails with perfectly balanced plain texts and HTML coding will surely land in the primary inbox. 

4) Optimize Your Headers And Footers

Optimizing the headers for your promotional emails is fairly easy. Avoiding promotional words in your header should be enough to keep your emails out of the promotions tab. However, things become complicated when it comes to footers. To begin with, Gmail automatically recognizes promotional emails by filtering out words like unsubscribe from the template and increases the chances of your emails landing in the promotions tab.

The thing is, this cannot be avoided as including a clear unsubscribe link is mandatory according to the CAN-SPAM Law, 2003. To circumvent this problem, avoid making the link obvious by entering too many disclaimers. You can even reword the unsubscribe link, as long as it is not violating any laws. Finally, try to enter the link at the end of your email, even below your signature. 

5) Add More Value Through Emails

Include high-quality in your emails. If they are adding value to your subscriber’s life, they will definitely want to receive your emails in their primary inboxes. With high-quality relevant content, you will also receive higher open rates and click-through rates. Again, segmentation plays a major role in making your emails relevant.

If you are still finding it challenging to segment your audience, you can send them a quiz asking them about their preferences and the topics they would like to see more often. By doing this, you won’t have to stress much about sending the wrong emails to your subscribers. 

6) Avoid Using Promotional Phrases

What do you think is the significant difference that you see between mailing your friend and mailing your subscribers? The use of promotional phrases. When emailing your friend, you don’t use words such as free, discount, sale time etc. You are pretty much to the point, not only with the email content but also the subject line.

You need to write content that you would send to someone you know. It should be personal, i.e. it should be written keeping the subscriber in your mind. If you write a more personal content and subject line, it will not only bypass the promotional tab but also enjoy a good open rate.

7) Too Many Images Spoil The Email

We do want to showcase as many email marketing image as possible while drafting the email. However, too many emails can put off the subscriber and can put your email in the spam category. When you write a regular email that is not considered spam, the email does not contain too many images. In fact, there are times when the email includes no photo at all.

When working on the email for your subscriber, make sure you take into account the image: text ratio necessary for the email. Don’t include any more than 2 images per image. Avoid adding mastheads or pictures in the signature while drafting the email. Google immediately filters the emails with too many images into the promotional tab.

8) Add Necessary Links Only

Linking requires a lot of thought from your end. Linking to just about anything and everything in your email can catch unwanted attention, and promote your email to the promotions tab. Make sure you don’t add  live social media feed links or links that don’t make sense to your email. A sales pitch containing too many links is not relevant or personal in any way. It is a sales pitch, and Google can determine the difference quickly.

If you want to add links to the emails, make sure you don’t add more than 4 links. Obviously, adding only one or two essential links will actually help get your email into the inbox, and increase the engagement rate for the email.

9) A Reply-To Address Matters

If your email contains a from address marked as “no-reply”, there are high chances of it being transferred to the promotional tab. Gmail does not recognize the “from” email address and considers it to be spam.

Instead of using “no-reply”, try using a person’s name or admin as your email address. The email address with a company’s name as the domain for the email is recognized inbox-worthy. When you have a reply field where the users can reply, and the email address seems valid, Gmail considers it to be a personal email that the subscriber would be interested in. The email is then sent into the inbox. Make sure, before sending the email, you have added a proper email address in the sender field.

10) Don’t Format Your Email Too Much

What do you do when you are sending business or personal emails? You just write the text, edit it a bit and then send it across. However, when you are sending it to a subscriber, you tend to format it carefully and modify every aspect of the email.

As a result, Gmail believes that the email is not being sent by a person. Too much formatting can actually spoil your marketing efforts. Avoid the HTML formatting, and use plain text when drafting an email. You might need to change the template that you are using to send the emails, in case your email template requires you to format it every time before you send the email across.

11) Content Should Be Short & Personal

While this is still being debated, there is a school of thought that believes the content plays an important role when you are trying to avoid the promotions tab. For instance, the longer the content, the more chances you have of being considered as spam. You can use short paragraphs to make the content flow distinctly visible to the subscribers. Secondly, you need to personalize the content, so that the subscribers feel it is being written to them.

If you don’t believe that the content is responsible for the email being transferred to the promotions tab, then you can conduct an A/B testing. However, it is important that you address your subscriber by their first name, and add other personalization elements to be recognized as authentic by Gmail.

12) Don’t Send Emails Without Testing

Testing of the emails on the various ESPs is important before you can send the email to the subscribers. You ought to test the email for personalization, use of promotional words, length of the email, the sender address and other details. Also, test the email by sending it to your own Gmail Id to know whether it enters the inbox or the promotions tab. Check all permutations and combinations when testing your email.

Wrap up

The emails that you send should be from a reputed and authenticated domain so that they are received well by Google. If you are offering value to the customers, and making your email sound more personal than promotional, you have higher chances of being in the inbox tab. The idea is to follow all the tips, and then test your emails as much as you need to, before sending it to your customers. If you want to talk promotions, then add the promotional content to your email, instead of being spammed by sending it via emails.  

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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