How to avoid the Promotions Tab in Gmail

While making sure your emails work in *all* inboxes is great, it doesn't hurt to focus on the masses and make sure you're driving high-converting emails to the largest majority of your audience.  Gmail is a huge provider of email and making your Recapture emails deliver properly is key for making your abandoned cart, winback and other campaigns successful.

Here are some specific tips we recommend to help you stay off the Promotions tab and in the primary Inbox for Gmail

  1. Image to text ratio is one of the biggest things that impact promotions vs primary tab. 100% image-based emails will most likely not cut it. Make sure your emails have a solid mix of live text + live buttons.  There's no ratio rule published by Google, but we've found emails that are ~60% or greater live text + live buttons hit the primary inbox much more often than promotions. Plus, emails with more live text + buttons are great for deliverability and accessibility long term.
  2. Ask your recipients to reply to the email and tell you where it landed:  Replies will help improve deliverability, and asking your customers to tell you that information is both helpful and valuable for feedback.
  3. Include instructions to move the email from Promotions to Primary:  Adding some simple instructions (which are easy to Google: can signal to Gmail that they made a mistake and it will improve later deliveries by doing this.
  4. Subject lines that include sales language may trigger the promotions tab by itself. Trigger words are not "a thing" anymore, despite what you may have heard.  But even with that said, certain words can increase your probability of landing in promotions because Gmail is trying to guess if you are promoting things or not.  Some brands can get away with it, but if your emails routinely have "XX% off!" or "limited-time" or any other promotional type language, they may automatically get filtered out.  Try to find unique angles to take with subject lines and preview texts! Either engage more personally with your customers or pull tidbits of copy from the email's body that are less promotional and more fun or eye-catching
  5. Your reply-to address matters! If your emails are being sent from email addresses with "no-reply" or similar, there is a GOOD chance that Gmail will automatically throw you into promotions. Try to use team/help/ and have replies forwarded to your helpdesk.  And with Recapture, using a custom sender domain will definitely help you stay off the Promotions tab by matching your sending domain with the reply to domain.
  6. Try to reduce the number of blocks in your email, as well as the different styles of text, headings, etc.  When sending emails to colleagues, you're more than likely using paragraphs and maybe some bolded or underlined sentences. Nothing fancy, right?  If you're doing the exact opposite for your brand's emails, Gmail can easily recognize that as an email that shouldn't be in a user's primary inbox. Combat this by reusing global styles and limited the different types of formatting your text has in an email.
  7. Make sure to preview your emails in a Gmail client before your start your Recapture campaigns (easy to forget when using Apple mail, outlook, etc). Most of the time, you can tell if an email is going to the promotions tab simply by sending yourself a preview in Recapture to a Google inbox and seeing where it lands.  This is definitely not fool-proof, as I have had emails that hit primary during a preview but still hit promotions after pressing send. However, if your email is hitting promotions during a preview, there's a very good chance that's going to hold true for your main send.

You'll never 100% guarantee that an email will hit the primary tab. At the end of the day, Google does what Google wants to.  This is true of all email clients, not just Google.

However, using these best practices regularly, you may start to see some emails perform better and generate more revenue per send.

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