Email Deliverability: What is the Gmail Promotion Tab?

Melanie Balke
May 22, 2024

Gmail users are one of the largest chunks of today’s email audience. (Its top competitors are Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo.) In fact, as of 2023, there are over 1.8 billion daily Gmail users worldwide. The email provider has a sizable 29.5% global market share.

Summarily, Gmail is a significant concern for email marketers.

Its massive reach impacts every aspect of modern email marketing. Everyone wants a positive sender reputation with Google. That’s just a fact of modern digital marketing! However, marketers must also consider the existence of different inbox tabs.

What Is the Gmail Promotions Tab?

Assorted stamps. "The Basics: What Is the Promotion Tab?"

For users, Gmail’s multiple tabs are a godsend. Email messages are automatically sorted into predetermined groups, reducing clutter in the primary inbox. While the primary concern for email marketers is the “Promotions” tab, there are a few different inbox tabs in a standard Gmail inbox, namely:

  • Forums: Not everyone will have a “Forums” tab, as it’s reserved for email alerts from message boards and forums. Note that this is not the same as the “Social” tab.
  • Primary: The “Primary” inbox is reserved for personal messages. Content in this tab will be from families, friends, and other individual email accounts. Email messages moved from the spam folder will usually land in this tab.
  • Social: Any email messages from a social media account land in this inbox. Users will find email messages from Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter (now “X”), and similar services in this section.
  • Updates: The “Updates” tab is for post-purchase emails and transactional exchanges. Most of these emails will be receipts and sales notifications. However, you may also see generalized updates or announcements from bulk email services.

It’s Not a Spam Folder!

One of the most important things to remember about the promotions tab is that it is not a spam folder!

Say it with me: “The Gmail ‘Promotion’ tab is not a spam folder!”

It’s just another way to streamline inboxes. Anything in the promotions tab is still visible and fully accessible. If users really want to see your email campaigns, they can move your content to their primary inbox.

It’s not a strict deliverability issue; you shouldn’t treat it as one! In fact, landing in the promotions tab may be beneficial. Moreover, users can disable inbox tabs and revert to “traditional” all-in-one inbox placement.

The Benefits of the Gmail Promotions Tab

In some ways, Gmail’s promotion folder is a boon for marketers and consumers.

It may not seem that way, but I promise that the seemingly pesky sorting algorithm is your friend.

The Consumer Perks

Obviously, there are perks for consumers.

Sorting promotional content into a single section keeps inboxes clean and organized. Users can access personal emails with ease and find promotional messages at their leisure.

It’s the digital difference between a department store and a thrift shop. In this analogy, the thrift shop is your classic all-in-one email inbox. You can find what you need, but it takes time to sort through the clutter. Comparatively, Google’s tabs act like a formal department store, sorting content into easy-to-find sections for later access.

(And, yes, you could manually annotate emails in older inboxes. Providers like Yahoo Mail maintain “bulk” reception, making inbox placement a non-issue.)

However, there’s a practical perk to the “Promotion” tab: Users want to see deals when they enter. They’re looking for sales! That intent translates to higher engagement and more eager subscribers from Gmail.

How Businesses Benefit From the Promotions Tab

Gmail’s promotions tab opens doors to additional customization.

You see, Gmail created these tabs for everyone’s convenience. There had to be something to offset the drawbacks of secondary inboxes. So, promotional emails got special treatment.

It introduced two special features for marketing emails, both of which are immediately accessible from the inbox preview:

  • Deal Annotation: With just a small line of code, senders can attach a “Deal Badge” to their promotional messages. These appear as small banners next to the preview text, proudly touting the enclosed discount.
  • Product Carousel: Gmail’s product carousel is available from the user’s inbox preview. Nonetheless, it works like an embedded element. Subscribers can swipe through featured products and enjoy content without leaving the promotions folder!

Increased Trust

Moreover, there’s an inherent sense of trust attached to “approved” content in the promotions tab.

Remember: It’s not a spam folder. It’s a secondary sorting method. Only pre-approved and vetted emails land in the “Promotion” tab. Gmail still has and exercises the ability to stop emails from unscrupulous sources. (And a simple toggle in a user’s settings disables the tabbing system altogether.)

Subscribers trust the information in their “Promotion” tabs. They consent to the commercial nature of these campaigns and are eager to engage. That trust means businesses get higher open rates and better results!

Learn More About Email Marketing

Of course, there’s more to learn!

Schedule a free strategy session and see how email marketing can supercharge your business. I’ll show you a personalized plan of action and discuss the various factors hampering your success. Then, I’ll reveal how a dedicated team of on-demand professionals can amplify your brand’s impact.