Do GMAIL tabs lower email open rates ?

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GMAIL recently introduced tabs for the inbox. All personal emails are now in the Primary tab, Facebook & Twitter updates goto the Social tab, newsletters in the Promotions tab and transactional emails end up in the Updates tab.

A number of early reports on this change have been negative. We are going to offer a different view based on our observations on the placement of millions of emails over the past few weeks.

The first clue is in the picture above. Notice anything special ? Here you can see an email from Saks which is positioned inside the Promotions tab header. Stands out, doesn't it ! Having your brand positioned here is entirely new for GMAIL and your brand occupies center stage. The eye is also drawn to the tab with an eye-catching new green box. This is one reason why we think the Promotions tab is good for your email campaign, but it's not the only reason:

Some retailers are now sending emails with an added message imploring the subscriber to move the email to the Primary tab. Doing this will make the email appear there in the future, along with the subscribers' personal emails. As Winnie the Pooh said, this is not a good plan. Perhaps your subscriber prefers to have emails categorised this way and now can easily sort through the offers you are sending by email. Let's be honest, they are promotional in nature, right ? We think GMAIL have made the right call here.

“By creating the promotions tab” said Alex Gawley a GMAIL Product manager “we created a context where users are in the commercial mindset”

Now let's look at the hard numbers. We looked at millions of emails sent to GMAIL inboxes before and after the change. Others have reported a drop in GMAIL opens but we can safely say this analysis was called too early.

Using statistical significance testing, we reported no significant difference in the GMAIL open rates. What we did find, however, was that our GMAIL open rates were significantly higher than some of our competitors who had reported a drop. If GMAIL open rates are important to you, please see our blog post on how to make sure GMAIL treats you nice in the blogbox above.

Clever email marketers should consider GMAIL tabs an opportunity. The subscriber now has an uncluttered Primary tab with the offers & promotions that matter to them all neatly contained in the Promotions tab. Beats the Junk folder, right !?

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