How To Get Past Gmail’s “Promotions” Tab?

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getting past gmail tabs

Since the time Gmail introduced the tabs in their mail service about an year back, marketers are faced with a challenge – How to get past the “Promotions” tab in their subscribers’ mails?

Gmail revamped its mail service some time back. While there were a lot of  changes which were very refreshing, there were some that were a welcome change for the users, but not so welcome for the senders, primarily if you are a marketer. Gmail introduced 3 default tabs in their mail dashboard. These were Primary, Social and Promotions tabs. Some of your might find the Updates and Forums tabs as well depending upon the mails that were there in your mailbox when the changes were done. You can read more about these tabs at the Google help page.

The name of the tabs pretty much gives you an idea as to what mails will get classified into each of these tabs. So if you are a marketer and you are sending promotional emails to your subscribers, it is likely that your email might end up in the “Promotions” tab in your subscriber’s mailbox. How this happens is a topic that can be covered in another post. But in a nutshell, the possibilities are -

  • Gmail filters emails coming from specific sending services like aweber, getresponse etc.
  • Emails with an unsubscribe link at the bottom could be the ones that are filtered.
  • Emails that have more than a specific number of links in their body could be the ones that are filtered.

Except for the 3rd point above, none of the others are something that you have a control over. Even if you were to reduce the number of links in your emails (which is a direct impact on your promotions), you could still end up in the “Promotions” tab. So how to get over with this problem.

While there is no specific game plan, below are some things that have worked for me. I saw about 27% increase in my email open rates for emails sent specifically to gmail users.

A tweaked Thank You Page

This is a very effective method and I found a lot of success with this one. All you need to do is replace your thank you with a slightly tweaked thank you page.. Something similar to the one below.

getting past the gmail tabs

Here are some tweaks that I recommend.

  • Start with a usual “Thank you” message. If you are using double-optin, then you might want to tell your subscribers about the process of “confirming their subscription”.
  • Since you are not just targeting the Gmail users, your page should slightly be tweaked with something like a question, “Are You Using Gmail?” followed by explaining the process to move the emails from the promotions tab to the primary tab.

This puts across a perspective and narrates a course of action that the subscribers are to take post opting in to your squeeze page. Psychologically it is proven that if you set across the steps of action that somebody is to take, there is a better chance of them following the steps.

Using a Brand Image

Auto-responder services like aweber give you an option of adding a brand image in your list settings. This is a very handy feature. You can get a nice little image designed which has your brand logo in it and some simple instructions on how to move emails from the “Promotions” tab to the “primary” tab.

Segmenting Gmail Users

I started off with segmenting Gmail Users in my list. The reason I did it initially was to see how the open rates were affected with the change in Gmail settings. But later I started following a different strategy for the Gmail users. One of which was something that worked the best for me.

It was a two-fold strategy that I followed.

I added a small message on my thank you pages, specifically targeting Gmail users, telling them that they have to open the email that they receive from me and reply to it to get access to the download link.  Then I set my AR sequence in such a way that the download link was sent to the subscriber on the 2nd or, the 3rd day.

Constant to and fro interaction is something that prompts Google to move emails from the promotions tab to the primary tab. Though I am not a pro in evaluating how their algorithm works, my wise-enough guess taught me that it was interactions that impacted the tab that your email landed in.

The 2nd strategy was something where I took the help of a techy friend of mine. Using some simple automation, I redirected Gmail users once they opted in to a different thank you page, something similar to the one I discussed in the above paragraph. I even added a small incentive, if the subscriber replied and forwarded the message that they got from me. This in turn resulted in engagement from their part and a consequent categorization of my address as one that can go into the “Primary” tab.

While these strategies do not guarantee results, we have seen a noticeable improvement in the open rates by following one or, all of these.

As an ending note, let me also put across the fact that it is extremely important that you use a good email address that appears real. Something like a mike@justanotherdomain.com is an acceptable email address as compared to updates@justanotherdomain.com.

Don’t forget to comment and let us know, if you have a different strategy that you follow. Also please do share the post if you liked it.

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Dilip Kumar

My name is Dilip. I am a fan of the internet and am awed at the many opportunities that the world wide web provides. If used constructively , the internet can give you an opportunity to lead a life free of the 9-5 treadmill and will be able to give more time to your family members.
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