A few years back Google quietly rolled out some rather large changes to the Gmail interface. The default tabs currently within Gmail are set to: Primary, Social, and the dreaded Promotions tab (Note: You do have the ability to create your own tabs if you’d like).

Long story short, Google works with algorithms, or complex formulas, that 99.99% of the world do not understand. With the tabbing feature, Google is organizing your emails for you. They make the call on what emails you care about most and stash them in your Primary tab. Everything else lands into the Social and Promotions tabs.

While there is no solving the “Google algorithm,” there are some proven methods for improving your deliverability into the Primary tab.

Here are 6 Simple Ways to Stay Out of the Promotions Tab:

Segment Your Contacts

  • If you are still using the “batch and blast” method for emailing your contacts, you are likely heading straight into the Promotions tab. Segmenting your contacts into identifiable groups not only allows you to stay more relevant in your conversations, but also appears more organic to Google.

Segments for you may include:

  • Contact Status (Lead vs. Customer)

  • Title

  • Company

  • Interest in Product or Service

  • Age Range

  • Gender

  • Location

  • Networking Groups


Tailor Your Content To Your Segments

  • You can provide targeted information to your contact's needs and interests once you understand more about them. Take Julia and Paul for example. Julia is a female Marketing Specialist who has inquired about inbound marketing services. Paul is a male Technology Specialist who is interested in website development services. While they are both interested in services you offer, you would communicate with them differently.
  • Your emails should reflect the same natural conversations that you would have when you’re speaking to a live person.


Start With Educational Content

  • The emails that hit our Primary tab are relevant because we learn something from them. Send your contacts useful knowledge that you are an expert in and stay away from an immediate hard sell. You’re building a relationship so you must build that trust.  Google will take notice and favor your emails when you start building a solid reputation with your contacts.


Keep It Text-Based

  • It's tempting to lean on newsletter templates with images, links, and color schemes – but it can also be a main trigger for the Promotions tab.
  • Why? You would not typically send a stylized newsletter to someone you are communicating with individually. The glitz and glam that comes along with a branded marketing email can easily signal to the big guys that you are sending a mass email.
  • As you form the relationship, a better approach would be to keep your emails simple and text-based like you would when sending an email to a friend or family member.

Here is a quick example of a simple, text-based email:



Personalize Your Message

  • We all want to appear professional, but when opening your email with “Dear Technology Specialist” you quickly inform Google that you aren’t quite sure who you’re contacting.
  • Hatchbuck makes personalizing your emails simple with the use of Merge Fields. You can easily place them into your email so that you are tacking a name to the content with each send.
  • Not only does this sound friendlier to your contacts, but it also appears to be a legitimate conversation between two people.



To get more personal, make sure you are sending your text-based emails with your name instead of your company’s name. While you want to get your brand in front of your audience, there are other channels that could be used to do so (like re-targeting advertising once they open your emails).


Don’t Use Too Many Links and Images

  • Research suggests that people cannot process too many options at one time, so keep your email formatted in a way that allows your contacts to quickly read the information. Keep your link and image count small so your email doesn't appear unorganized, and include only one call-to-action per email. This makes it crystal clear what the next step should be for your contact. 



Lastly, stats show that emails using the 140 Character Email method have better deliverability into the inbox. To drill it in once more...keep your emails simple and organized!


The Google tabbing system does not have to inhibit your marketing efforts and genuine conversations! Maintain an authentic approach to your emails and keep it simple to ensure better deliverability into the inbox.