BlogGmailYour Friendly Neighborhood Gmail Promotions Tab

Your Friendly Neighborhood Gmail Promotions Tab

3 min read
Marketing Director @Ongage

The Gmail Promotions is the second tab within the Gmail inbox, designed to automatically sort ‘promotional’ messaging from other emails like booking confirmations or security emails (i.e., the more ‘serious’ stuff). It was put in place in order to improve ease of use and to enhance the Gmail experience for the end user.

What’s contained within the Promotions tab is pre-defined by Gmail at the point in which emails are ‘sorted’, based upon who the email is from and the contents within.

Why is it useful?

Since Gmail introduced tabs back in 2013, Email Marketers have been fighting their way back to the Primary tab. To this effect, you’ll find a lot of content around the web on how to avoid the Promotions tab — but what exactly is so bad about your emails landing there?

Users and Marketers alike were frustrated when Gmail introduced this new structure, as it felt to many that all it served up was more work for the subscriber (as they have to navigate to in order to browse the emails in there) and more frustration for the Email Marketer (to get out of there!).

But a tabs structure isn’t necessarily something you should spend time fighting against.

This Return Path report states that the Promotions tab is the second most adopted tab in Gmail, secondly only to Social, typically obtaining a 60% adoption rate. Furthermore, it tells us that many Gmail users like the categorization that these tabs provides, as the automatic sorting of their messages actually speeds up their digestion of emails. In fact, 45.1% of Gmail users acclaim to checking their Promotions tab at least once per day.

So when it comes to Gmail inboxing with your email marketing campaigns, how can you get the most from this audience?

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How to maximize your email content for the Promotions tab

When designing or accessing your emails for Promotions tab success, it’s key to remember that it’s those brands who provide the most subscriber value from their emails who’ll be rewarded with more prominent placement. This brings the importance of your success back to your email marketing content planning and strategy, which are intrinsic to all areas of your email activity if you want to drive your ROI.

However, beyond a solid email strategy, there are some areas where you can focus your time in order to make the most of the Promotions tab:

Design your emails for the Promotions tab

In early 2019, Gmail announced an update to the Promotions tab which enables Email Marketers to design elements of their emails specifically to stand out more. Use these new elements to give your subscriber more of a sneak peek of your email message, enticing them to open and read. For example, Single Image Preview allows you to add a custom image to your email which your recipient will see before they open. Or use an Expiration Date to inform your subscribers as to when your offers or discounts are ending, creating a sense of urgency around them taking action on their purchase.

Read more about these elements and the others available from our friends at Litmus, here..

Build content specific for Gmail Bundles

The most recent round of updates also includes the new introduction of Bundles, where certain emails will be chosen to appear at the top of a Promotions tab, grouped together with others, displaying common themes like discounts or offers.

To take advantage of this, Email Marketers should be looking to use clear language within their promotional email campaigns. For example, when your email contains a discount or offer code, make sure you state this clearly so that it can be easily picked up and categorized by Gmail.

You should also take advantage of schema mark-up within your emails, adding in well-written schema to tag your emails clearly and assist Google’s machine learning functionality in picking up the email for inclusion in a Gmail bundle. You can read more here.

Use a ‘move this email’ prompt

A ‘move this email’ prompt involves creating a dedicated campaign to your Gmail subscribers, which asks them to move your emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab within their Gmail inbox. Granted, this isn’t exactly embracing the Promotions tab, but for those of you who still strive to live out those Primary tab email days, doing this will mark your emails as ‘wanted’ by the subscriber, which tells Gmail to direct them to the Primary tab in future.

Many brands, like Kate Spade, have chosen to take this approach in order to trigger a subscriber action.  


Getting into the Promotions tab is not something to be afraid of. We now know that Gmail users are utilizing this area more than was first thought, and by taking advantage of the elements we’ve discussed, you could actually end up with a more prominent position than if your emails fell into the Primary tab!  

From Single Image Preview and Expiration Dates to Annotations and Green Badges, Email Marketers should be seeing these new updates as an opportunity to maximize their emails for the Gmail inbox, not as a battle to fight against.

For more email marketing insights, check out our blog

Marketing Director @Ongage
Marketing Director @Ongage. Sharon is an expert in online marketing, specializing in acquisition and growth strategies. On her downtime, she loves spending time with her family and catching up on classic cult movies.

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