Gmail’s new inbox – a nail in the coffin for email marketing?

10 Oct 2013
By Jyoti

With over 435 million active users, Gmail is the primary email account for many users worldwide and unless you were busy saving the world, you will have noticed that the new Gmail inbox categorises your emails into three tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions. There’s also the option to have two additional tabs: Updates and Forums. You can watch Google’s new inbox demonstration here.

Whereas before the change all emails would reach your main inbox unless identified as spam or filtered to another location, now, the default view is the Primary tab which doesn’t show all emails. To view social or promotional emails (twitter notifications for example), you have to click on the corresponding tab.

Does this change make things easier?

Debatable. Many users will like the de-cluttered inbox (which we previously had to keep tidy ourselves). Suddenly we’re now more organised without having to lift a finger and with our busy lifestyles, we can easily turn our attention to the more important stuff first.

Others will be annoyed about Google deciding what we do and don’t want to see.

Has Google made things easy for marketers?


1. Users who enjoy knowing about new products, special discounts or free coupons will appreciate having these emails grouped together for easy access. If they really like a company’s promotion, they have the option to drag the email from one tab to another which ensures that all future emails from the same sender will go straight into the Primary tab.

2. Having a Promotions tab means people who do click on it, will be doing so with purpose and buying intent. Even if this tab is viewed slightly later, it means that users make a conscious decision to look at promotional emails and are likely to give the content the attention it deserves.


1. Simply put, clicking on the Promotions tab is an extra step, and most of us aren’t driven to chase up every promotional email we receive. So will these emails be opened or even seen?

2. Having all promotional material in one place means that marketers will now be in fierce competition to grab reader’s attention.

3. Marketers will have to acknowledge that many of their “today only” offers will be overlooked as the new update is likely to increase the time in which users actually get around to looking at their emails in the Promotions tab.

So is Google’s new inbox enough to kill off email marketing?

It’s too early to say. It will be interesting to see how Gmail’s new inbox will affect email marketing statistics and whether or not other email services will adopt a similar method. For now, brands that do engage in email marketing will be monitoring the impact that Gmail’s changes closely.

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