Let’s get one thing straight. The Gmail Promotions tab is NOT the spam folder.
Google introduced the Promotions tab in 2013 to segment commercial emails in a user’s inbox, while at the same time, not hurting a company’s deliverability rate. In fact, according to a study by Return Path, there are a few data-based arguments that show the Promotions tab shouldn’t be ignored, such as:
- Tabs increased deliverability: 93% of commercial messages that land in the promotions tab avoided the spam folder
- Tabs increase open rates: People actually value the Promotions tab. Gmail users see it as a more efficient way to do their shopping from their inboxes.
For example, the Gmail Promotions tab is perfect for those planning a night out and want to easily find a Groupon for a restaurant downtown. However, any B2C company would tell you they’d rather land in the primary inbox. Landing in the primary inbox is crucial for B2C companies due to increasing competition and the evolving nature of brand loyalty.
The primary inbox is where the most important messages belong. That’s why in order to land in the primary you need to optimize your email sends by following best practices for list cleansing. Nobody knows for sure how Google’s algorithm determines what’s spam, a promotion or an important message, but there are a few steps you can take. For example, you must ensure that you’re not only maintaining your deliverability rate but increasing opens and click-throughs. This is done by grabbing a recipient’s attention in the subject line and building emails with a healthy text-to-HTML ratio.
Keep these tips in mind to avoid the Gmail Promotions tab:
1. More Text, Less HTML
An eye-catching email is sure to please any executive. The logic being it’s pretty, so why wouldn’t recipients click-through? While HTML is great for style points, it doesn’t do any favours for your metrics.
That’s because what we do know about Google’s Gmail algorithm is that too much HTML is a red flag. It signals that your email is commercial content and nine times out of ten it’ll land in the Promotions tab.
To get in the primary inbox, keep it simple. Write your emails in a conversational tone with plenty of white space and include few images so your message always comes across as direct.
2. Only Include One Link
You should already have an unsubscribe link included in the email, so the link you include is essentially your CTA. That means no social icons either, which is best to include on the Thank You page once they convert for a second chance to engage.
3. Use Your Personal Email
If being “more human” is the latest trend in marketing, then why wouldn’t Google prioritize person-to-person email sends in their algorithm? Use your personal work email, not the general “firstname.lastname@example.org” account because recipients and ESPs know you’re looking to sell.
Why not be subtle in your approach by using yours and the recipient’s name in the email? After all, people buy from people, so tell a story that engages and piques curiosity.
Keep in mind, it’s not about gaming Google’s algorithm. Don’t change your name or email address because your reputation (and deliverability) is linked to it. If you change it, you’re basically starting from scratch. The same goes if your email address already has a bad reputation because switching your identity will likely lead to Google to penalizing you even more.
4. Segment, Segment, Segment!
The contacts on your email list are more than a set of properties. They’re real people, each with different lives – so don’t reach out with a cookie-cutter approach. Marketing automation, and specifically email marketing, is all about delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
If your emails are consistently relevant, entertaining, and timely, then you’re naturally going to see more opens and click-throughs which tells Google that what you have to say is important to the recipient.
5. If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Receive
Ask recipients to put you on their whitelist if they like your content. This guarantees each email they receive lands in their primary inbox. The benefit of being upfront is that after you ask, each subscriber can add your email address according to Gmail’s rules. This way you’ll be able to spur subscribers into action at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The Gmail Promotions tab is not your enemy, in fact, it can be invaluable in post-conversion drip campaigns where your advocates can easily find deals they can use and share. However, if a lead is new or cold, then be direct in your welcome message and re-engagement campaigns in whitelisting your email address. Follow these tips to solidify the relationship with your leads by consistently landing in the primary inbox and see higher open rates and conversion as a result.
If you haven’t been paying attention to your email deliverability, now is the time. Learn more in Your Guide to Improving Email Deliverability.