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4 Tips To Reach The Gmail Inbox

Jul 27, 2020 1:18:00 PM

Ever watch the movie Snatch? In one iconic poster for the Guy Ritchie movie, Brad Pitt is shown ready to fight someone two or three times as big as him.

Today we're going to talk about how you can fight and beat the big bad gorilla you're facing with your email marketing campaigns.

Your opponent is Google and your objective is to get more of your emails to land in the inbox (Gmail's "primary" tab).


I'm not talking about the promotions tab, the social tab or the dreaded spam folder. No, you can reach that holy grail with your promotional messages: that lovely inbox. And you can do it by following the steps below. 

What Are Gmail Tabs?

As you probably already know, Gmail works by sorting incoming email according to three tabs:

  • The Inbox (your target, also known as the "Primary Tab"): An engaged subscriber may be willing to move your emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab. Doing this "teaches" Google that they want your emails in the Primary Tab. Consider passing along these Gmail Help instructions to encourage them to do so.
  • The Social Tab: As the name implies, this is where you would receive messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, and other social platforms.
  • The Promotions Tab: Most brands should be happy to make it to the promotions tab. Promotions tab organizes email so you can separate email from your friends, colleagues, co-workers, etc from marketing messages. 

(There are also other tabs, and of course you have your spam folder. We already talked about how to avoid that in our Optimize for Deliverability article.)

Landing in the Gmail inbox means more visibility for your messages. Here are four tips to do just that.

#1 Cut Down On Your Links

The number one tip is to cut down on the number of links your email contains. Google looks at the number of links, including unsubscribe links, footer icons, header icons, image links, and even links to your social media profiles in the signature. Keep it to three or less. Minimizing links can also improve your click-through rate (CTR). Fewer links mean fewer choices!

#2 Make Your Email Text-Friendly

Make sure your email looks like it’s coming from a friend or a colleague. In other words, make it as "text-friendly" as possible. This means using real “froms” (sender name) and using personalization as much as possible. Try to include a recipient’s first name and make sure your message isn't purely promotional. It may take away from your brand experience to make it as personalized and as text-friendly as possible, but it's worth it.

#3 Get People to Buy

You’ll notice that when you buy from a brand, particularly one you follow, that email tends to land in your inbox versus the promotions tab. My theory is (and I can’t confirm this) that Google can tell when you purchase something and they’re able to prioritize that in your inbox versus the promotions tab.

#4 Get People to Reply

More than clicks, more than opens, more than anything, the number one way to hit that Google inbox is to get replies. So ask for a reply! In confirmation pages, welcome emails, and other campaign content, ask subscribers to add your "From" email address to their Google Contacts. Emails from a subscriber's Google Contacts always go to the inbox. This is known as "whitelisting" in the biz, and it's the one sure-fire way to get your emails to land in the coveted Gmail inbox.


So yes, you can be like Brad Pitt and defeat that 800-lb gorilla and get your business messages in your subscriber's inbox. But most businesses (including eCommerce brands) should be okay achieving promotions tab. What you don’t want is the spam folder or (worse) a block. 

Written by Jason Boehle