When Gmail introduced the automated tab function in 2013, email marketers feared for their campaigns. Many feared their messages would be invisible, as marketing campaigns were sorted out of the primary message tab and into a subcategory tab. While users could disable the tab function, those who did not disable would have their messages sorted into the following:
Primary – person-to-person interactions
Social – automate notifications from social media and networking platforms
Promotions- marketing emails, deals, offers, etc.
Updates – automated notifications about shipping, billing, receipts, and statements
Forums – messages form discussion boards
Four years later, the threat posed by Gmail tabs is far less harmful than originally thought. According to a Return Path report, only one in three users utilizes the tab function, compared to 100% of users who employed tabs when the function was first launched.
Furthermore, the report found that marketing campaigns are most often sorted into the second most checked tab: Promotions. Evidence showed that almost half of Gmail users check their Promotions tab at least once a day.
Despite a decrease in users since the birth of the tab function, two-thirds of Gmail users still rely on this feature to categorize their messages and simplify inbox navigation. For more information on the impact of Gmail tabs, read the full Return Path report here.