Gmail’s new tabbed inbox – Is it a problem for lead generation?

As some of you may know, Gmail rolled out a new inbox structure in May that aims to separate “primary” emails sent by family and friends from emails Google deems to be more “social” or “promotional” in nature.


The immediate thought from those who rely heavily on email marketing to generate leads was that this could be a disastrous change if Gmail users comprise a large portion of your marketing list. The fear is that the “Promotions” tab may turn into a glorified Spam folder with legitimate permission-based email sitting untouched. Marketers have been hard at work analyzing the initial results to measure impact and the general consensus remains…well, inconclusive… for now.

One of the main reasons it’s hard to understand the true impact is because mobile has really taken over when it comes to email opens, and Gmail’s new tabbed interface is not a part of many mobile email client UI’s. The folks over at Litmus took a closer look at mobile’s effect on the Gmail change and found that a whopping 66% of Gmail opens happen on mobile devices, and more specifically, the #1 email client Gmail users open emails on is the iPhone’s built-in Mail app (accounting for 34% of those mobile opens).

The big catch here is that Google’s new inbox structure is not supported within the iPhone’s Mail app, so depending on your audience, a significant percentage of users aren’t even being exposed to these new tabs. So again, your results may vary depending on the type of contacts you’re targeting and where they are opening those emails. Look to a 3rd party email analytics tool for more info on where your potential leads are opening your email campaigns.

Some companies aren’t taking any chances and are even resorting to asking their marketing contacts to label them as “Primary” to stay top of mind, while others are asking their audience to disable the new tab sorting feature entirely. We think this might be a little drastic and recommend a wait and see approach if you’re concerned about how this may affect your lead gen efforts. Keep checking back with About Leads for the latest on this topic in the coming weeks.



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About Jon Faitel

As a Associate Marketing Manager, Jon drives many marketing initiatives at BuyerZone including email campaigns, website design changes, blogging, and the BuyerZone e-newsletter. He also works with sales on new business development and the optimization of client communications. When not at work, he enjoys following professional football and taking leisurely strolls with his Boston Terrier.

One Response to Gmail’s new tabbed inbox – Is it a problem for lead generation?

  1. Robert Drew August 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    As B2B email marketers, we keep tight tabs on these things, using 3rd party email analytics tools, and it seems like it could be a bigger concern for B2C email marketers, at least for now. The vast majority of our sends hit Outlook and similar clients. Gmail, while growing slowly, comprises less than 3% of all recipients. So we agree with your encouragement to use these tools before making hasty email marketing design or strategy changes.