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Email Deliverability Tips: Beating Gmail’s New Inbox System

Oct 11, 2013   |   4 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

gmailGmail’s Inbox changes have email marketers scurrying to find the most effective strategies to curtail losses in readership and maintain the best possible open rates. Pundits, meanwhile, are offering a gamut of approaches as they wrestle with the ramifications of the new Gmail format.

Many email markers worry that being shunted to the Promotions tab is the equivalent of being exiled to Siberia, and that their emails will be unwanted, unseen and ignored there. Thus, they wonder whether there are ways to finesse their way into the Primary tab.

As Matthew Billings of Mailchimp relates, “A lot of people have asked how they can get their email delivered to the Primary tab. In response, I’ve heard several suggestions claiming to have found a solution, but none of those panned out.” Based on some intensive experimentation, Billings believes there is no workaround marketers can employ to get their emails routed into the Primary tab. “I’ve tested something like fifty configurations of headers, content and authentication, and I’ve come to one conclusion,” he explains. “The best way to get into the Primary tab is to have your subscribers put you there.”

ExactTarget goes even further, warning marketers that it strongly recommends against attempting to modify email headers or body content to try to get the Gmail system to route messages to a different tab. Google is very likely to consider this practice as “gaming the system,” says ExactTarget, warning that ISPs react extremely negatively to these attempts, and you risk having your emails blocked or sent by bulk into the spam folder. “Maintain your typical email best practices and don’t try to find a sneaky way out of your inbox placement,” advises ExactTarget.

Likewise, Informatix says trying to “fool” Gmail into believing your emails are not marketing-related is “fairly pointless.” As many online marketers know, it’s not easy to circumvent Google’s algorithms.

Just Ask

Because users can manually change Gmail’s settings to have your messages arrive in the Primary tab, many pundits are telling email marketers “Don’t be afraid to ask.” When a user drags a message from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab, a pop-up message asks the user if they want all subsequent messages from that party to be placed in the tab. If the user clicks “yes,” all future messages from that party will arrive in the Primary tab.

As Dayna Rothman on the Marketo blog notes, many Gmail users might not even realize they can drag and drop messages. “If you ask and provide instructions, says Rothman, you might be surprised how many people listen. Consider it “the third opt-in,” she adds.

Right now, asking recipients to drag and drop your emails is the easiest way to get Gmail to redirect your emails to the Primary tab. Another way Gmail users can have mail directed to the Primary tab is to click the gear icon in the top right corner of their mailbox, select “Configure Inbox” and check the box labeled “Include starred in Primary.” They can then click “Save,” and the changes are set.

MailChimp describes two more methods subscribers can use to manually reroute your email to the Primary box-one that works by right clicking on a message and clicking a “Move to tab” option, the other involving using the advanced settings within the Gmail search tool.

Survival Tips

A good deal of advice for beating the Gmail Inbox is being proffered on marketing and analyst blogs. Some commonly offered tips are to:

Besides Marketo’s Dayna Rothman, those offering tips and tactics for Gmail’s new Inbox include Sonia Simone of Copyblogger, Ian Marshall on his mybizmailer blog, ExactTarget’s whitepaper andBhiroop Basu of Zopim. Stephanie Meyers of Inc. relates advice from Return Path’s Tom Sather, who suggests extending email campaigns and using dynamic content that lets offers refresh whenever the email is opened.

To earn a welcome reception from users will require many email marketers to turn sows ears into silk purses. As Taylor Lindstrom advises on, if you want your customers to consider your emails worthy of belonging in the Primary or Social tabs, make them more primary or sociable. And if you want your readers to put your emails in a tab they’ll actually read, give them better reading material.

Of like mind is Jay Baer, who on his Baer Facts blog informs us that the secret to beating the Gmail system is “relevance.” If you want to defeat Gmail’s new gimmick, he says, send better email.

Want more information on Gmail’s inbox changes? Check out the blog “The New Gmail Inbox: What Email Marketers Need to Know.”

Photo Credit: ario

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