Emails Go To Gmail’s Promotion Tab: The Reasons & Solutions Behind It

Have you ever sent an email that ended up on your subscribers’ Gmail Promotion tab?

I’ve noticed several times that the emails I send sometimes go to Gmail’s Promotion Tab as well. However, this is not a big issue for me personally since it’s much better than the emails going to the SPAM folder. Why? I’ll explain more about this in another section of this article.

Also, we’ll go over whether the emails that go to the Promotion tab or other tabs in Gmail are harmful to marketers or not. Not only that, but we’ll also discuss the impact of these tabs on the emails we send, whether they have positive or negative impacts.

The 5 Tabs in Gmail

Talking about emails going to Gmail’s Promotion Tab, I just got a quite interesting report from Return Path revealing that Gmail’s Promotion Tab has been launched for a long time. Around the year 2013, Google added this new feature called Tab:

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So basically, whether we open the Gmail app on a smartphone or a browser, Gmail will automatically categorize all emails we receive into 5 tabs, including:

  • Primary. Emails from friends and colleagues usually go here.
  • Social. It includes email notifications from social media sites.
  • Promotion. Email marketing or email offers from a company or a brand are frequently included.
  • Update. It usually comprises information about flight tickets (if we ordered them), information on marketplace shipping orders, etc.
  • Forum. Activities in forums, such as mailing lists, are frequently included.

The Impact of Gmail’s Tabs on Email Marketing

Google’s launch of the 5 tabs has had a significant impact on email marketers all around the world. The impact is on the response rate, such as :

  • Open
  • Reply
  • and Click

According to the Return Path report, most email marketers’ response rates decline once Google enforces this email tab categorization. As a result, many marketers feared that their emails would not be read just because of this.

Promotions Are Not a SPAM

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After nearly 4 years of running, the Return Path brings another interesting report again that Gmail provides users the choice of enabling or disabling this Tab feature.

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The results in 2016 showed that 66% of Gmail users chose to disable the Tab feature in their Gmail.

As a result, their Gmail works like a centralized email inbox where all emails go there. (Note: I also do the same thing for one of my emails).

Then, Return Path asks several questions to the other users who chose to enable this Tab feature regarding the accuracy of the emails that go to the Tabs. The results turned out to be 90% more users stated that the Gmail’s Tab system accurately sorted the incoming emails.

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Then after they stated it was accurate, Return Path asked them again what tabs they had enabled.  And you can see the results in the data below:

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That isn’t enough yet. So Return Path even digs up statistics on how frequently Gmail users check those tabs.

I got the following data specifically for the Promotion tab:

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Seeing at the statistics data above, it turns out that even though an email was in the Promotion tab, Gmail users still read it because they usually check the Promotion tab at least once a day.

This implies that if your emails go to the Promotion tab, you don’t have to worry about it because the recipients already know that your email includes promotions.

In fact,  I think it’s actually good. Because if someone is reading your email while knowing it contains a promotion, chances are they are interested in what you are offering.

The Reasons & Solutions For Emails Go To the Promotion Tab

As I’ve just previously mentioned that you don’t have to worry if your emails go to the Promotion tab, maybe some of you are still curious why this could happen.

According to many sources, there are at least 5 reasons why emails can go to the Promotion tab, including:

  1. No email personalization.

Email personalization is one of the differences between emails sent to one person and email blasts/broadcasts. You may freely and simply mention the name of the email recipient while sending an email to one person. But for the email blasts, you can’t include the recipients’ names so that the email is no longer unique. However, you may use the email personalization feature which enables you to include the recipients’ names in the subject or body of the email (with a note that the name field is already included in the subscribers’ data.) So, you can use email personalization to stop your email from being sent to the Promotion tab.

  1. Too many links in the email

Your email may end up on the Promotion tab if you include too many links in it. To avoid this, reduce and limit the use of links in your emails.

  1. Too many pictures in the email

If you sign up for emails from marketplaces like Shopee or etc., you’ll frequently receive an email with a lot of product pictures in it. Those emails virtually always end up under the Promotion tab. Just like the links, if there are too many pictures in the email, your email has the potential to go to the Promotion tab. So, reduce the number of images included in your emails.

  1. Email Design

Emails that go to the Promotion tab are frequently built with an email builder to make them look more beautiful and attractive. The emails designed with an email builder are usually delivered to several recipients (not meant for personal.) The Gmail system will then detect this and put your email in the Promotion tab. So, what’s the solution? You can send emails in plain text mode, with no design, no pictures, and a few links.

  1. Choice of words

The words you choose and use for your emails’ subject or body are also the reason why your emails go to the Promotion tab. The solution is to avoid using words like discounts, free, and other terms synonymous with promotions. There are more than 100+ words you need to avoid.

  1. No-reply email addresses

Clear emails are marked with a clear sender’s email address which can be replied to. So, it’s not surprising if a lot of emails with senders frequently go to the Promotion tab. That’s because the email address is not clear & cannot be replied to. Then, the solution is to use an active clear email address which can receive email replies.


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