How to Bypass Gmail’s Promotions Tab for your Emails?

Posted by Chris Donald On June 1, 2022 in story time I 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, we received a call from a worried client whose emails were landing up under Gmail’s promotions tab.

We gave them our word that we would definitely look into this and assist them in making the transition from promotions to the primary tab.

But how were we going to execute this? Was there a plan in place?

To begin with, we requested the client to send us the email directly from their personal email account.

After waiting 5 minutes and checking the email inbox for another 10 minutes, it was still nowhere to be found. We requested to send another one.

No luck.

Then a notification in the Gmail promotions tab indicated there were new emails.

Surely not! There’s no way that the emails we receive from personal email IDs will end under the promotions tab, right?

But yes, they were.

Really, Gmail? Did you shuffle the email to the promotions tab?

So why was it in there, and more importantly: how to prevent emails from going to promotions in Gmail? Let’s look around for answers.

Why do my emails end up in Gmail’s promotions tab?

The Gmail promotions tab. Some people love it, some people hate it, and some people love to hate it. When our clever subject lines and email campaigns are classified in the Gmail promotions tab instead of the primary inbox, many of us email marketers mutter something along the lines of “oh, fudge.”

Let’s look at why your emails end up in Gmail’s “promotions” tab and how to prevent emails from going to promotions in Gmail in the future.

Gmail decided in 2013 to separate its “Webmail” service into the following three categories:

  • The primary mailbox:
    The “interpersonal” emails should arrive in this part of your “Webmail” and the messages that seem most important to you.
  • Social networks:
    Mails from social networks.
  • The Promotions tab:
    Mainly commercial messages.

How your emails are distributed in Gmail strongly impacts your email campaigns’ opening rate (and, therefore, conversion rate). Emails that land in the main inbox seems more visible than those that land in the Gmail promotions tab and therefore opened more often.

It’s also worth noting that only emails received in the primary inbox send a mobile notification to the user, emphasizing the significance of having different tabs.

How do email categorization and distribution work?

That’s an excellent question!

Since Google has carefully concealed this information, there is no straightforward response to this question. Algorithms contain criteria for deciding how mail received in one of your mailbox’s tabs, “Gmail,” will be distributed.

To put it more simply, the algorithms that Gmail employs read your email, read the rest of your mail and then pick which of the categories in your inbox to place it in.

Here, we’re trying to distinguish between the emails that are delivered to your primary inbox and those that are sent to your “promotions” tab.” Gmail will immediately identify whether an email is “personal” or “commercial.” The algorithm gets suspicious as soon as it is clear that you are not writing in the same manner in an email as you usually do when communicating with a friend. As a result, it comes off as more of an advertisement or a purchase confirmation email. Th e algorithm then uses the same data to determine how to distribute emails.

Another factor that plays a significant role is the sender’s identity as well as the domain name of the sender’s website. For instance: There’s a good possibility it’s a member of your family or a friend! A slim probability of selling you cookies! Strong suspicion of commercial email.

As a result, a wide range of factors can be considered, such as; the history of emails received from a particular IP or sender, contextual information, and the recipients’ reactions, to name a few.

How to avoid emails going to promotions? Is there a way?

Returning to our original topic, it’s important to know that Gmail’s algorithmic operation is kept under wraps.

As a result, the advice of experts ought to be regarded with some degree of skepticism. The only way to know for sure if something is relevant is to put it to the test.

To move from promotions to the primary tab, is there anything I can do to try?

The best thing you can do to move from promotions to the primary tab is to send engaging, well-timed, valuable content to a clean list of contacts who want to receive it. As soon as Gmail determines these users are interested in receiving emails from you, it will place your emails in the relevant tab for easy access.

Here are a few ways your email marketing can avoid and embrace Gmail Promotion Tab:

1) Follow Google’s instructions:

To get the most out of Gmail, it’s still best to follow the rules set down by its creator, Google. The corporation posted a list of best practices for bulk message senders online under the title “Instructions for senders of bulk messages.

2) Imagine writing to a friend:

A promotional email is not what you want your email to portray. For instance, if the subject line of your email contains the term “promotion,” your emails will always be placed under the Gmail promotion tab.

The primary reason those emails appear in the “promotions” tab is that it gives the impression that they are promotions (commercial offers). They include sales-oriented slogans like “Buy Now” and “Don’t Miss This Opportunity.” This isn’t how friends often communicate with each other.

Avoid using sales-y language and write as if you were sending them to someone you know.

3) Spam trigger words should be avoided:

Many words trigger Gmail’s spam filters and send your email to the promotions tab.

In terms of spam, these are the most often used keywords:

  • Free
  • Sale
  • Be your own boss
  • Expect to earn
  • Offers
  • Get paid
  • No credit card
  • Discount
  • Best prices
  • Clearance

Always try to avoid these. It will also ensure excellent email deliverability.

4) Authenticate your domain:

Using an email address from a personalized and authenticated domain is essential. Even though this is probably not the most important consideration to move from promotions to primary tab that Gmail’s algorithms take into account, it is still very important.

5) Personalize your email:

Don’t forget to use the recipient’s name, especially in the salutation, when sending the email (Hello Beck,…). This adds a touch of “individuality” to the email. An increasing number of email marketers are utilizing personalized fields. Even though an email contains the recipient’s name, this does not necessarily indicate that it is a personal email. Gmail is well aware of this. As a result, while it can’t guarantee a spot in the main tab, it can help.

6) Use simple HTML code:

The usage of advanced HTML coding in personal emails is uncommon. As a result, if your email code is complex, it is likely to be categorized as a promotional email.

As a general rule, the less HTML code in your email, the better.

7) Don’t overdo it with the images:

Most “regular” or “friendly” emails do not include attachments of any kind. This is a powerful signal to Gmail that this is not a regular email from someone you know, and your email will be more likely to be routed to the Gmail promotions tab.

The image-to-text ratio should also be taken into consideration. You can get away with one 1 or two 2 images in a lengthy email, but if it’s a short message, the appearance of 2 images will trigger an alert.

8) Say no to numerous links:

In the body of the email, there should be no more than one link. Links in personal emails are rare, if not nonexistent. The number of links is certainly a factor in Gmail’s algorithms.

9) Create unique and captivating emails:

Make sure your email subject lines are catchy and don’t fall into overly promotional formulae that will make you look like a spammer, and take care of the content to boost your click-through rate.

The more your subscribers open and click on your emails, the more likely they will appear in Gmail’s main tab.

10) Make use of proper formatting:

You may be flagged as spam if you use a lot of fancy-looking fonts in your email or have a diversity of formatting in different places.

Keep your emails professional-looking, and only use various fonts if the design requires it.

11) Do not send too many emails at once:

If you send too many emails frequently, Gmail may place you on “alert” and prohibit you from showing in the “main” tab. So limit the frequency of your sending and segregate your list so that you can send fewer messages simultaneously.

12) Ask your recipients for a helping hand:

This seems direct. However, it is Google’s preferred way. And it works better than you’d think. It is as follows:

Request your subscribers to move your emails out of the promotions tab. Subscribers can drag emails from the promotions tab to the Primary tab.

There are two ways to approach subscribers with this request:

  • Start a campaign in which you ask all of your subscribers to file your emails under the primary tab.

You have to create and send one campaign. So it’s a fairly effective method. Send this campaign regularly, so new subscribers know what to do.

  • Include a request and guidelines for moving your emails to the primary tab in each email.

Your request being rather non-intrusive is the reason why this works so effectively. Your request and instructions can be included in the footer of your email, along with the unsubscribe instructions. People will not be bothered by it.

Since most visitors do not read the footer, you should probably consider moving the request to a more prominent location.

Furthermore, ask them to open one of your emails (through your social networks or a blog ad, for instance), and they can then indicate to Gmail where to send your emails. When a subscriber changes one of your campaigns from the ‘promotions’ tab to the ‘primary’ tab, Gmail asks them to choose if they want all of your campaigns delivered hereafter.

You can also encourage your subscribers to designate your communications as important, which will help Gmail see you as more trustworthy.

Moving an email from “promotions” to “primary” is an easy process:

Choose the mail, then right-click on the mouse, select “Move to tab,” and finally select “Primary.”

And it’s a wrap

We have seen that most commercial or advertising emails arrive more and more in the promotions tab.

Being able to enter the primary tab is critical in B2B. You need to stand out from the crowd to get the user’s attention instantly.

But remember, Gmail’s promotions tab is not a spam folder. It’s a tab where customers expect to find your emails and emails from other brands. They’ll know where to look for you. Don’t be afraid of the Gmail promotions tab.

As long as your emails are valuable and interesting, the tab in which they appear will not affect how well your campaigns perform.

Last but not the least, what have you found successful in avoiding the Gmail promotions tab? We’d love to hear from you.

Let us know in the comments!


What is the Gmail promotions tab?

The tab system within Gmail allows users to classify their email appropriately based on five types of messages: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. The promotions tab contains marketing emails and promotional offers; sometimes, that’s where your newsletters might end up.

How can I turn off the Gmail promotions tab?

To disable the Gmail promotions tab:

  • Click Settings.
  • Under Inbox Type, click Customize.
  • Uncheck Promotions and any other tabs you want to disable.
  • Click Save to apply the settings.

Why are my emails being sent to the Gmail promotions tab?

If your campaigns frequently appear in the Promotions tab, they may appear or sound more like marketing emails. Minimize the number of links in your emails, restrict the usage of images, and write campaigns that sound friendly rather than businesslike to increase the likelihood that your emails will land in the primary tab.

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