Posted July 16, 2013 4:08 pm by with 27 comments

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When I logged on to Gmail this morning, I was greeted with an overlay saying that Google had updated the service to make it easier for me to use. Wasn’t that nice of them? What they did was organize all of my email into tabs so I can find what I want faster. Not bad.

Here’s what it looks like:

new inbox


From the consumer point of view, this is pretty slick especially since I only use my Gmail account as a catch-all. I usually only hit it when I’m looking for something specific, like the tracking number on the DVD I just bought. Now I can go in and find it fast. That email should be under the “Updates” tab.

I also love the “Social” tab because it collects all of those “RoseyBear246 is Now Following You” messages and sticks them in one place. I like to scan those messages but they’re a real pain when there are 200 of them mixed in with the regular email.

And then we get to the “Promotions” tab. This is where you, the marketer, are going to land. Your initial reaction is probably negative. Filtering your newsletters and offers into a separate tab isn’t good for business, but I don’t agree. I love coupons and deals, so I’m excited by the ability to quickly scan through the incoming offers without navigating through the rest of the mess.

There is a downside. (Isn’t there always?) On mobile, these extra tabs are hidden in the sidebar slider. I’ve seen reports saying you can’t access the Promotions tab on mobile, but I just updated my iPhone and it’s there. It does take some extra effort and if you’re scanning for important emails, you might forget to check the tab. It’s like that branded page filter on Facebook – I still forget to check that tab.

Still, I think it’s not going to be the ad killer that some people think it will be. I think anything that helps users sort through their email efficiently is good for the email sender. After that, it’s your job to make sure you’re sending content they want and can use.

Google put together a snappy YouTube video to show off the improvements and it’s backed by the wonderful song “Mr. Postman.” It made me smile. . . until I got to the end of the piece and I saw this:

one tabI resent that Google things only non-branded emails are the ones I “really, really want.” So not true. My favorite emails are the branded coupons that show up on my birthday with free treats.

What do you think? Is Gmail’s new tab system an email marketer killer or just another bump in the road?

  • FrankReed

    I am waiting to see this in my Gmail. I have Gmail envy right now.

  • lauraliciousy

    sounds Interesting.


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    • emile

      Am very Unhappy with the new Gmail Inbox. No Thank You for sorting my emails automatically according to your categories. I CAN DO IT!

      One more thing, I’ve began to receive more spams in my inbox since I clicked on the new one without any choice to remain the previous one. Recently Gmail has become more forceful to follow changes they have made.

  • Ron Cates

    Interesting read, Cynthia. You’re spot-on when you say this update reiterates the importance of valuable email content. It’s more important than ever for businesses to make their emails as relevant and engaging as possible, which means the bulk of emails should be valuable information interspersed with sales promos that make consumers want to take that extra step to find and read “promotional” emails. This change also emphasizes the importance of developing relationships with customers across as many channels as possible, so that they’re actively looking for your content.

    For marketers, Google’s decision to launch this change at the beginning of summer, traditionally a “slower” season for many businesses, is helpful. Marketers can see how their open rates and click-throughs are affected by the changes and adjust their campaigns accordingly in preparation for a busy fourth quarter.

    Ron Cates, Director of New Market Development, Constant Contact

  • Debra Hamel

    I actually like this update quite a lot. I only have two complaints about it. 1. Once you peek at what’s in, say, your Promotions folder, the notification on the folder tab, which initially tells you how many new messages you have in the folder, goes away. I would like there to still be an unread count on the tab to remind me that stuff is in there. 2. They’ve taken away the ability to select all the posts in the list and then perform mass actions on them. Given that we’re now effectively isolating mail which many of us will want to throw away en masse, unread, being able to batch delete would be handier than ever. I want that ability back.

  • Debra Hamel

    I take back my second point! I just realized that they’ve moved that select all box up next to the refresh box. Batch delete remains possible.

  • G Ellis

    Very unhappy. Long given up the idea that I have any privacy but please! I prefer to streamline and organise my own mail. I hate this new system. Like the banks who make it hard to change you make it tedious to leave but I may have to after all these years of going with improvements that annoy me. I am really teed off! Couldn’t you at least leave the illusion of it being My mail?

  • Cosmetic garbage. Let’s get rid of the spam first. If google hadn’t gone all EVIL on us, they would provide useful anti-spammer tools to disrupt and even destroy the spammers’ business models. How can legitimate businesses compete with infinite amounts of free garbage from the spammers?

    On the other side, I’m willing to listen to legitimate advertising. What I want is to specify how much time per day I will read ads, specify what kinds of things I’m interested in, and the email provider would auction my time to the legitimate companies that are selling what I want, with the value of the auction split between me and the email provider. The email provider would do this anonymously and would have an extremely strong reason to protect my privacy and to keep out the spammers.

    Google need not apply, having become far too evil for me to trust with any personal information.

  • igotaheadachenow

    the new gMail inbox is ridiculous…….what next are you going to come up with. Leave the gMail alone

    is there that much of a demand for change in it? Very unhappy.

  • phaithful

    Most of the people in my family got it … They absolutely hate it! The “primary” inbox doesn’t show the latest mail … so it forces you to click through all 3 tabs just to see if you have something new.

    More clicking IMHO means worst UX, and the “norms” seem to not like it. I haven’t received it personally.

    The quick fix is to go into the gear settings and remove the additional tabs. Then there won’t be a tab anymore.

  • leflores

    You are wrong, i think most people NEVER will click in Social or Promotions tabs, many people use just the basic, and dont go beyond it, if promotions emails are not in their inbox they will never see it.

    Why they did not place their adds inside that tab? Ads are still prominents in your “inbox”…

    Google just are killing email marketing to gain more traction to their Adwords.

  • Conceptually the idea of separating the inbox by type is an interesting. I can absolutely see the benefits of putting all the promotional emails in one place so your inbox doesn’t get too cluttered. However I am skeptical about the sorting algorithm used. For example I had several electronic newsletters end up in my promotional folder.

  • Mallory

    I hate it. I want my new mail in one spot. Not clicking around looking for an unread message. This is bullshit.

  • Google is Run by Idiots

    Deleted the tabs as soon as I saw them. I’m capable of organizing my own inbox thank you very much.

    • Seb

      Thank you! Deleting the tabs did the trick: I can see all my e-mails at once now.

  • Liz Gray

    I absolutely hate the changes. I didn’t ask for them and I want my gmail back as it was! But how do I do this, I absolutely cannot fathom it out. If I want my email categorised I’ll do it myself. How do I get my old emal back the way it used to be???? Help!

  • Mike Jacob

    Old adage…”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Google has once again managed to criminally molest the canine with this one. If I can’t get my old inbox back, it’s off to yet another email provider.

  • kstoloff

    I don’twant the new settings on my gmail account. It was just fine the way that it was. What can I do to change it back; or do I have to sign w/yahoo. This idea that google had was really stupid. How can I get rid of it?

  • em

    HATE IT!

  • Alex

    This is bullshit, should be an opt-in feature only.

  • There was no demand for this. It is purely another way for Google to put their marketing ahead of anyone else’s. Who determine’s what is promotional and what is not? I already have an auto sort function on my inbox called a SPAM filter. Why would anyone want an automatic categorization tool? If I don’t want to see an email I will unsubscribe myself.

    I got rid of this on my inbox as soon as I saw it.

  • lakawak

    improvements? Something that most of the users are going to disable immediately is an improvement?
    I bet you are also one of those people who thinks that Google Plus is a huge success.

  • This will severely hurt the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. When people get busy, their promotions tab will be ignored.

  • Andrew

    So many sooks. No wonder our society is going nowhere. Slight bit of change and the demand for tissues goes up dramatically..

  • Ben M

    What is awesome about this is that I never see FB updates anymore (they’re hidden away on the ‘Social’ tab). So I don’t get sucked into FB… in fact, I barely use it at all anymore since this Gmail feature rolled out! I also don’t use G+ anymore, either. So good for my time 🙂

  • blackice781

    Another reason why I don’t use Gmail – it sucks!

  • Marcel Corona

    If you send your mails with bit.ly11ZUQS0 they go straight to the primary tab