Posted to Leigh Carver's blog on July 24th, 2013

Will Gmail Tabs Affect Your Email Marketing Strategy?

With the rollout of Gmail's new tabs functionality, a number of email marketers are nervous. Users can choose to organize emails into up to 5 tabs including Primary, Social, Promotion, Updates, and Forums-- with most newsletters and email marketing efforts being siphoned automatically into Promotion, at least at first. A number of newsletter marketers are nervous that their emails will languish away in a heap behind the "Promotion" tab wall.
But is there really cause for concern?
There's a lot of chatter right now about whether the new inbox is affecting open rates. Some alarmists are decrying the new tabs, while optimists have helpfully pointed out that consolidating marketing newsletters in one section allows users to specifically peruse them in their own time, removing them from the noisy clutter of personal messaging and making it less likely they'll be deleted out of sheer frustration.
Though it's too early to make any definitive statement on how this will affect open rates, there are things you can do if you're alarmed about the new inbox system. Consider using an email and marketing automation platform like Automatr to send a message out to only your subscribers who use Gmail. (On Automatr, this can be done by creating a segment that specifies 'contains ""') 
Shoot them an email reminding them to drag your newsletter over into their “Primary” tab if they enjoy reading your newsletter every day, and also consider spreading the message socially. You may also want to consider sending a tweet from your Twitter or posting on Facebook and Google+ that your users can find your usual marketing emails in their "Promotion" tab, and that they're encouraged to move your marketing newsletter over into the "Primary" tab to continue seeing great content from you on the front page of their inbox.
Until more time has passed since the rollout, there won't be any conclusive data on how this will affect your content marketing strategy. But as someone who often opens marketing emails from her smartphone only to delete them, I'm excited from a user standpoint to be able to separate my marketing emails from my personal ones and peruse newsletters when I've got the time and money to make a purchase-- and from a marketing standpoint, I think that tabs are a great idea for the same reason.
What do you think of the new tab system? Have you tried it yet, or have you already seen an effect on your open rate? Let us know in the comments.