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

Gmail inbox left hand drop down menu 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 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.)