You think the new Gmail Tabs are good for you? Think Again!

so Google are all about doing no evil and providing a great user experience.

And as part of that, they’ve introduced the lovely tabs in gmail:


your really important emails go into the Primary tab, all the social stuff into the ‘social’ and of course, all that pesky advertising and pitching goes into the ‘promotional’ tab.

Great isn’t it?

well, no, it isn’t!

Yes, on the one hand it’s convenient that it’s now grouped into ‘logical’ subgroups, (then again: all of that was easily possibly previously in gmail anyway, just no using ‘tabs’), …

… but on the other hand there are real-life implications of this new arrangement:

initial feedback from lots of marketers is that open rates and hence click-through rates are down by about a third.

33% fewer clicks, just because your advertising is now hidden in a tab that noone is looking at.

“oh, poor lil’ marketer” you might be thinking (sarcastically;-), but here are the real implications:

1. if you’re a marketer yourself (which should be a pretty good guess as you’re on a blog about marketing), then your initial reaction should be “oh f***” (a sudden 33% drop in revenue I think deserves an ‘oh f***’)
2. just because gmail is messing with our advertising doesn’t mean that we stop advertising. Meaning: marketers will focus more on other channels. Meaning more noise elsewhere.  Expect MORE advertising on Facebook, MORE advertising on pretty much any website you can think of, MORE advertising outside email. Meaning the good folk at Google look like the knight in shining armor, but really the only thing they’ve done is that they’ve moved the problem elsewhere.

3. here’s the one that’s going to affect you most: effectively, our advertising costs (for the email channel) have gone up … 33% fewer clicks means I’m getting 33% less results for my advertising dollar. And that loss of revenue needs to be compensated for. By, hey, look at this: higher prices! For you, the consumer.

“oh f***”


PS: turns out, there’s a way to get your prospects crawling across broken glass, er head on over to the ‘Promotions’ tab, actively scrambling to find your emails (more on that over the next few days), secondly, noticed how I said “moved the problem” in point #2 above:

it really is a problem, all this interruptive advertising. It’s highly ineffective (estimates are that we’re being bombarded with several thousand marketing messages every day, yet less than a handful stick), yet most marketers attempt to ‘fix’ that by sending out even more marketing messages.

The solution is of course to do something else … which ties in nicely with the approach to getting people to scramble to find YOUR emails … and hence: more on that in over the next few days;-)

For now: how is this change affecting YOU and YOUR plans? Leave a comment below!



  1. There is a lot of nonsense lately from “harbinger’s of doom” regarding gmail tabs! Many people access gmail via desktop applications, so tabs will have no effect. Additionally, pure raw click rates are a poor indicator of whether an email broadcast is considered effective or not. What is more important is the quality of the leads and whether they result in more sales or not, surely?

    If you don’t offer value to your customers and hit them with 10 emails a day all trying to sell them something then, sure, gmail tabs will undoubtedly hit your business. If, however, you offer valuable content and build trust with your customer base, then I don’t think there is anything to worry about!

    • Hey Mike,

      spot on, 100% aligned with “what’s to come” over the next few days.
      the big question really is “what is valuable?” – the moment you’ve got that nailed (and that’s exactly what we’ll be covering over the next couple of posts), then your prospects will be scrambling to get to your message, no matter if it’s in the ‘Promotions’ tab or not.



  2. I did wonder if it would be ALL negative.
    Fortunately you are about to tell us it is NOT… hopefully negative at all!… lol

    I sure you’ll invent a piece of software to block it on all our customers gmail accounts!
    Cheers… in hope of miracle cures… Phil Tozer

  3. Google sucks beyond belief. I hate everything about them.
    The best solution is to advertise in various ways and not rely on any one way. Obviously if your main source of marketing is through your list (and of course we’ve all been told The List is the way to go! (except maybe now we’ll find that it’s not)) then you’re going to take a hit on this. Just like having various income streams (various products, adsense, amazon, jvzoo, etc) makes sense, it’s also good to have various methods of reaching your target market with a list being ONE of those. (Look at how Squidoo totally screwed all those people who had been selling products via amazon via Squidoo lenses! I know someone who had tons of work wiped out by Squidoo!)

    As much as I hate google I am planning to learn the dreadfully complicated way adwords works so I can advertise there and I’m already learning twitter and facebook advertising.

    I think this just points to the fact that one can never rely on any one method of advertising/getting your message out, nor one method of making money!

    DIVERSIFICATION IN ALL THINGS is a key concept in IM!

    • Hey Mike,

      I agree with the diversification, with a big warning though:

      most people never make one work, and then move to the next thinking that well, the one that didn’t work ‘clearly was broken’.

      in most cases trying to understand WHY it didn’t work (and then fixing that) will get you much further.

      regarding the “you must build a list” – IMO it’s still true, probably even more so than ever before.

      But, you have to do it the right way, just doing MORE of what’s not working to make up for it not working is not the answer.




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