How Will Gmail’s New Tabbed Inbox Affect Deliverability?


The Inbox Just Got Smarter

Does logging into your inbox remind you of an episode of Hoarders? Are disorganized messages circling you like a murder of crows? Well, according to the Gmail team, “it doesn’t have to be that way.”

On May 29th, the Gmail team announced a new inbox that will help users sort their mail. Each incoming message is automatically sorted into the appropriate tab: Primary, Social or Promotions. Optional tabs like Updates and Forums are available too, as well as any custom labels the user has made. Check out this cheery Google video for a quick overview.

The Details

Here are a few important things to know about how the new inbox operates:

  • Available for the web app, Gmail for Android 4.0+, and the Gmail iPhone and iPad apps
  • Default tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions
  • Optional tabs: Updates, Forums, user created Labels
  • Show or hide each tab with a click
  • Hidden tabs deliver mail to the Primary tab
  • Starred mail also goes to Primary tab by default
  • If all tabs are hidden, all mail goes to the Primary tab (which is also hidden)
  • Each tab has new message indicator, showing the number of unread messages
  • Drag and drop to move messages between tabs
  • Will ask you if it should do this in the future:
    “The conversation has been moved to “Updates”. Undo
    Do this for future messages from support@gamefly.com? Yes
  • Enable this in your Gmail inbox by clicking on the gear menu (upper right) and selecting Configure inbox

    How does EOA feel about tabs?

    Guarded excitement.

    No, really, we’re stoked. Yes, this means that marketers’ emails will all go into a big bucket labeled, Promotions. For marketers who use opt-in style list maintenance, this shouldn’t be a problem. If the recipient signed up for your email list, they probably want to read your emails. This also means they’ll be interested in promotions when they actually read it, having chosen to read through that section of their inbox.

    For the rest of us designing product updates, site notifications and other functional emails, those emails will either be delivered to the Primary inbox, or to the Updates section if that user has it enabled. Both of them are spots where savvy users will be able to keep an eye out for the info.

    What does this mean for the future of email? It’s hard to say now, but we think that anything that improves the users’ experience is a good thing. We want users to want to read email.

    How about you? Is the tabbed inbox an exciting breakthrough or an annoying obstacle? Let us know in the comments down below.

    (Images and video courtesy of the official Gmail blog.)

    5 thoughts on “How Will Gmail’s New Tabbed Inbox Affect Deliverability?”

    1. It’s not clear yet how – hopefully for the good (Steve crosses fingers…)
      BUT
      one way or another, it will affect me, for sure.

      My readership/audience base is over 60% using gmail as their email provider.

      As senders, no matter what, we shall adapt – things won’t get back to what they were. They inexorably move forward, along with technological development.

      On a personal note, as a recipient, I was already making good use of all the Gmail facilities like ‘priority Inbox’, labelling, forwarding and all the good things (some of them only to be found under the Gmail Labs tab). The new improvement should make my life even better, I hope.

      Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
      Chief Editor, eMail Tips Daily Newsletter

    2. Geoff – good post, thanks!
      Any idea how google decides which email is a promotion and which ones are promotion?
      We have a Q&A site that relies on instant notifications and weekly digests to retain users. Our instant notifications are being delivered to the UPDATE folder and our weekly digest to the PROMOTION folder. In my opinion, our instant notifications should be delivered to the SOCIAL folder (as it happens for LInkedin, Quora, etc.)
      Thoughts?

    3. @francesco,
      We’re still not sure how it makes those decisions. We’d love to know if you gather more info though! You might want to try creating “updates@yourdomain.com” but put in the content of the weekly digest, and see where it goes.

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