About Gmail Tabs

Learn what Gmail tabs are, how they work, and why are they important

Paulius avatar
Written by Paulius
Updated over a week ago

Back in 2013, Gmail introduced tabbed inboxes. This is a complex and constantly changing algorithm that considers subscriber engagement, email content, and sender information to decide where exactly the email should land. There are five categories:

  1. Social - for social notifications and updates

  2. Promotions - for email marketing promotions and offers

  3. Updates - for transactional emails like receipts and shipping notifications

  4. Forums - for mailing lists and groups

  5. Primary - for personal emails and messages from other categories where the tab isn't turned on

Though Gmail offered the ability to sort email into these five different categories, individual Gmail users needed to manually enable tabs to begin seeing their email filtered by category.

According to Return Path, only 33% of Gmail users use tabbed inboxes with 68% using Social tab, 60% using Promotions, 26% using Updates, and 13% using forums. Also, only 20% say they never check the Promotions tab in Gmail.

Although all marketing emails have a higher probability of landing in the Promotions category. Unfortunately, Omnisend has no control over the placement of emails in Gmail, and there is no proven way to outsmart Gmail’s algorithms. Only a subscriber can move your emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab.

Getting to the Primary Tab

The only way to improve your chances of emails landing in the Primary tab is to maintain a healthy subscriber list. Engaged subscribers are more likely to move your campaigns to the Primary tab as well. You should encourage your subscribers to take the following actions:

  • Add your FROM email address to their Google Contacts. Emails from subscribers' Google Contacts always land in the Primary inbox. Read Google Help instructions on how to add From email address to the Google Contacts.

  • Move your emails to the Primary tab. Subscribers can teach Gmail where to deliver your messages. When a subscriber moves one of your campaigns from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab, Gmail asks whether it should always deliver your campaigns there. If you have engaged subscribers who want your emails to appear in the Primary tab, share these Gmail Help instructions.

To test content and check to which tab on Gmail will your email land, use the Which Gmail Tab? tool from Litmus.

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