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New Gmail Tabs Cause Marketers Grief, Get Mixed Reviews From Users

Gmail tabs

Google unveiled Gmail Tabs this week and like anything new on the Web today, the initial reviews are mixed.

Some people love the new compartmentalized look to their Inbox.  Others are furiously scrambling to remove the Gmail tabs and return to the Gmail look they are familiar with.

And marketers — well many of them are decidedly unhappy as they discover what the tabs will mean to their marketing messages and transactional e-commerce messages.


If you haven’t opened your Gmail recently, when you do you’ll notice a major change. Three Gmail tabs will top the first message in your Inbox: Primary, Social, and Promotions.

You can add others or delete these to return to the traditional look by navigating to Inbox Settings inside Gmail.

A Look At The New Gmail Tab Settings

Here’s a brief explanation of what you can expect to find in each of these Gmail tabs. (Note: These tabs are not the same as the Categories which you already probably use to organize your emails.):

Primary: These are inter-personal messages from your regular contacts. Or they could be messages that don’t fit the other tabs you’ve set.

Social: Very simply, these are messages you receive through social networks. They could include updates on new Twitter followers, direct messages you’ve received, and other updates from social media sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and others.

Promotions: These messages, at least at first glance, are marketing messages. Based on my initial use of the new Gmail tabs, they are generally messages from sites where you’ve signed up for updates.

Google will automatically pre-sort messages and place them under what it believes to be the appropriate tab. You can also add tabs for Updates (messages from sites like PayPal) and Forums (pretty self-explanatory).

How It Could Affect Your Business

If your business relies on e-commerce, this new tabbed layout could mean that abandoned shopping messages and other order communications will not immediately be seen by customers.  This could lead to lower customer satisfaction and missed sales opportunities.

And for those that do email marketing, they will find their messages likely pushed to the Promotions tab.

Only time will tell whether or not people actually read the filtered messages in the Promotions and Social tabs.  Some fear those messages may get buried.

Some of the Issues Predicted

There’s already some buzz on the Web about how these new tabs (particularly Promotions) could impact businesses.

Some Simple Advice

But rather than wait to see what the new Gmail Tabs will do to your email marketing campaigns, instead be proactive. Digital marketing expert Michelle Gamble from Marketing Angels suggests [8] contacting your customers now.

Tell your subscribers that the email updates you send them may be going to their Promotions tab. Tell them if they still want to see those emails regularly they need to either visit the tab or mark the email “not promotions” for the future.

Watch Google’s brief visual tour of the new Gmail Tabs below:

Image: Wikipedia [9]