Study Claims Marketers Shouldn’t Worry Over Gmail Tabs: 4 Months In & Not Much Has Changed

Return Path logo Nov 2013It’s been four months since Gmail rolled out its inbox tabs, and email marketing data provider Return Path claims not much has changed with reader rates since the tabs were introduced.

Based on data from three million users who agreed to share their Gmail inboxes, Return Path’s study found promotional email engagement has changed only slightly since Gmail released its inbox tabs:

Almost no commercial mail is reaching the “Primary” tab, but instead of ignoring marketing messages, Gmail users are actively searching for them and reading them at almost the same rates at which they did before tabs.

In a roundup of email marketing before and after read rates, Return Path found many industries saw little to no change after the introduction of the Gmail tabs, with some industries experiencing a slightly higher read rate.

According to the Return Path’s data, 90 percent of promotional emails were delivered to the “Promotions” tab, with “Promotion” tab emails generating a 14 percent read rate. The .3 percent of promotional emails delivered to the “Primary” tab had a 24 percent read rate. The nine percent of emails sent to the “Social” tab earned an 11 percent read rate.

Return Path Gmail Inbox deliveries

Shortly after the roll-out of the Gmail tabs, many marketers began sending “Move Me” emails, asking readers to move their promotional emails from the “Promotions” tab to the “Primary” tab. Return Path’s study evaluated the success of this email marketing strategy and found only 61 of 65,507 “Move me” email messages were placed in a user’s “Primary” tab.

Return Path claims email marketers may be better off with their commercial emails going to the “Promotions” tab. The study shows fewer commercial emails were tagged as spam when delivered to the “Promotions” tab, with 93 percent of messages sent to “Promotions” tab delivered successfully compared to a 77 percent delivery rate for the “Primary” tab.

Also, Return Path says commercial emails delivered to the “Primary” tab are twice as likely to be marked “This is spam” by a recipient as messages sent to the “Promotions” tab.

Return Path Gmail Inbox This is spam rates

Return Path claims 61 percent of Gmail users kept the Gmail default configuration, using the “Promotion”, “Social” and “Updates” tabs.

Of the users who modified the default Gmail configuration, 77 percent kept the “Social” tab, with 46 percent keeping both the “Promotions” tab and the “Updates” tab. Return Path says “virtually none” of the Gmail users who modified their tabs removed all but the  “Primary” tab, while only six percent chose to use the “Forums” tab.

Return Path Gmail user configuration

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Email Marketing | Google: Gmail | Statistics: Email Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • Kurlee Locks

    Can’t stand the tabs! Never use them.

  • Rishikesh Somshetti

    With hundreds of mails hitting INBOX has done a right thing by sorting them under various tabs. We prefer to look at promotional mails at leisure time and don’t want them to distract during work.

    NetGains Technologies Pvt Ltd

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