Why You Should Care About Gmail’s New Tabs as a Blogger, Marketer, Freelancer, and a User

Are you a blogger, Internet marketer, freelance writer, or just someone who likes to get their email? Whether or not you use Gmail, you should be concerned.

Here’s why Gmail wants you to be excited about their new tabs. It’s supposed to help you only get the emails they deem as important in your primary inbox. The rest gets sorted in tabs for Promotions, Updates, Social, and Forums.

While it sounds good, in theory, it’s bad. For everyone. Here’s why.

1. If you want to actually see all of the new email in your inbox, you have to now check a total of five tabs.


2. If you have Gmail open all of the time so you can get alerted to new emails in your inbox, you won’t be alerted to new emails that are sorted into one of the tabs.


I currently have one new email in the Promotions tab and one in the Updates tab.

3. Want any email from a mailing list? It just went to the promotions tab, including that email you need to confirm so you can get your free download (such as my free, 8,000+ word Guest Blogging Survival Guide).


Email marketers (ie., anyone who sends email through Aweber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, and related mailing list services) should start watching their confirmation and open rates!

3. Speaking of the promotions tab, if you’re OK with mailing list emails going there, you probably won’t be OK with updates from local businesses you care about, auto reminders from health professionals (dentists, veterinarians, etc.), and even gift cards from Starbucks.


4. Working with clients who have product updates that you need to know about? Their emails are going to the Updates tab.


5. Depending on the topic of your websites, your contact form submissions could end up in the Updates or other tabs.


Best of all, when you switch to the new Gmail inbox, the emails in your inbox will be automagically sorted into the new tabs. So if you were saving particular emails in your inbox, they might have gotten moved.

6. Gmail is serving up their ads in the Promotions tab.

As discovered by Antonio Gulli and CNet, the Promotions tab is where Google will be sending ads as emails.


So much for the new Gmail inbox design being meant to help users…

Turning Off New Gmail Inbox Tabs

So how do you solve your new Gmail inbox issues? First off, you can shut some or all of the tabs off by going to your Settings wheel and clicking on the configure inbox option.


Then uncheck any tabs that you don’t want, or all of them to get back to Gmail as it once was.


Retraining Gmail

Alternatively, if you like the new Gmail tabs, but want certain messages to come to your primary inbox, you can drag them from whatever tab the come into over to your inbox.


You can also do the opposite – if messages are coming to your primary inbox that you want in another tab, you can drag them over to your desired destination tab.

Educating Your Mailing List

If you have a mailing list, you’ll have to assume that many of them use Gmail. 49% of my Aweber mailing list subscribers are using Gmail. In Aweber, you can find out what your percentage of Gmail users is by going to the Subscribers tab and using the search filter to find emails containing @gmail.com.


Then, you have to remember that a lot of people may have other email addresses forwarding to Gmail, making that percentage even higher.

With this in mind, you’ll want to educate your mailing list subscribers on how to keep getting your emails.

You can start with a blog post just like this one. Then you can send that post (or this one) to your mailing list immediately to catch those who might not have converted to the new Gmail inbox just yet.

You can also start educating your subscribers from the very start by updating your thank you page with instructions on where to find your email when they subscribe.


Then let them know how to get future updates delivered to their inbox once they confirm.


Note that this doesn’t just apply to your mailing list. If you have an online store that sends out confirmation emails, a product that sends out update notifications, or pretty much any other type of email that you want to reach your intended audience, you will need to do some testing to see where those emails end up for Gmail users and educate them too.

Found this useful? Please share it with anyone you know who is using Gmail or marketing through a mailing list!

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes     Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says

    Hi Kristi,

    This was a much needed post :)

    Ah…I was in for a surprise a few days back when I saw my inbox all sorted out and all my emails distributed to the sections they had made! Gosh! It was surely something I didn’t want, nor do I like it one bit.

    The first thing that I did was also to merge the boxes into the same simple inbox with everything in it. I guess being freelance writers we keep checking on our inbox rather frequently, so our inbox isn’t all that loaded with emails, which happens only if we don’t check it often. So, one doesn’t need such tabs that only add to the problem and take time because you need to check ALL your tabs. More so, if you open a tab and don’t check those mails, you sometime forget to go back there and check them again because there is no pending mail or notification to remind you over the tab that those mails are unread!

    This was indeed useful information for those who are also looking to merge their tabs into a single one. I liked your point about educating the mailing list, which I would do soon too.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice weekend :)
    Harleena Singh just posted How To Choose The Right Career

    • says

      I have also tried it for few of days and for me these tabs are cool and they have helped me to manage my all mails in proper way like never before for me it was a crucial update and I am petty sure that you have also liked it and you will be using these cool tabs.
      Prakash just posted Arabic mehndi designs Just for you

  2. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for this post who came right on time. Gmail got on my nerves but … what can I say … it’s Google and this says it all. :)

    1. “the emails they deem as important”. I don’t like the idea of other people organizing things for me. I want to organize things myself.
    What happened with the other try of theirs? They came up with that “Important and unread section”. It was good enough for users like me.
    OK. The problem is that we don’t have control over this thing. These are free generic email accounts and this is why a lot of people use it.

    2. Confirmation email? I had no idea of the Promotions tab. I signed up for a list and waited for the free gift. I found it after a many days in the Promotions tab.
    I think many people are so used to the old type of Gmail that they DO NOT SEE the tabs. At least this is what happened with me. So they need to be educated indeed. Another supplementary effort.

    3. “Get back to Gmail as it once was”. I have just did that. Thank you for the tip. However, until Google will decide this is another bad move (this is starting to become a kind of tradition), people are forced to educate their customers. Another series of bad words and curses and another load of negative karma for Google.

    This is an excellent post that must be shared. Thank you very much Kristi. You are an extraordinary internet marketer. Practically every posts of yours solve a problem. I must do the same.

    Have a nice day
    Silviu just posted Are you Afraid of Social Media Automation?

    • says

      I totally agree with you, Silviu.

      When I first saw this new Gmail update, I was totally taken aback and I immediately didn’t like it.

      I hated the new layout and I struggled for a few days trying to figure out how to disable the tabs.

      It really didn’t dawn on me that the new update would affect my marketing, until I sent out an broadcast and noticed a significant decrease in my email open rates.

      Then it hit me… that STUPID update!

      I currently don’t have the feature on and will not be turning it back on as I was fine with the old layout.

      However, I’m concerned about this will continue to affect my list and open rates.

      I’ll try to figure out how to incorporate education about this new update to my subscribers. I’ll most likely write a post like similar to this and keep it as a sticky on my blog for a while.

      Thanks for this update and detailed tutorial, Kristie.

      Ti Roberts just posted [VIDEO] TRTT Episode #7 – Should You Swap Guest Posting For Paid Advertising? (subscriber questions answered)

  3. says

    Yeah. I turned this on a month ago and promptly turned it off. However, I LOVE Priority Inbox – which is sorta the same thing only in a vertical view I suppose. I try to only check the Priority mails and save the other ones for after work. Helps me a lot. I also use the star system for tasks and I archive and delete down to a clean inbox everyday. I’m surprised that Gmail did this.

    On another note, NICE how you have the checkbox to download your free report right here inside the comment system. How did you do that??
    Phyllis Khare just posted Introducing a Social Media Conference in Mexico | Engage Mexico

  4. says

    Hi Kristi,
    This is one of those posts I’ve been thinking I need to write, so thank you! And I love, love, love the idea of showing a screenshot of the gmail tabs on your thank you page. I’ll be implementing that this weekend.

    I’m thinking about switching back to the old Gmail look. I like the tabs in some ways, but also feel unsure whether I’ve seen all my new emails. GMail doesn’t do a perfect job of categorizing emails either . . .
    Jennifer just posted The 8 Most Important Words You’ll Ever Write

  5. says

    This sounds fantastic and I’m going to upgrade to it ASAP, but I don’t like the thought of Google Ads as emails, I would rather pay to remove those ads.

    For verification and confirmation emails, I’ve always expected them and gone looking for them rather than finding them turn up randomly. I think my “Primary” will be quiet as I get very few emails that are not promotions or newsletters.

    I imagine emails are sorted to tabs based on labels, so it won’t affect how they are displayed in other mail clients.

  6. says

    At first glance I didn’t think much of these new tabs, but you are right these have some interesting implications. Emails from mailing or subscriber lists may be relegated to a secondary tab, such as the promotional tab, making them more easily overlooked, and associated with spam. It will be interesting to see if this prompts any changes with emailing strategies. Every little change being made with email or social media services are starting to make a serious impact, given how important they are now. Staying on top of things is more important than ever.

  7. says

    I am very curious how this will play out for 500M email users and the legitimate email service providers that do email them.

    It’s my theory that when people fail to receive timely messages or offers, there will be some public outcry. Likewise, large publishers (The Next Web, Mashable, etc) will criticize Google and pressure them to relax the filters a bit.

    I don’t see these filters yet, but I’m certain that they will be enabled soon.
    Joseph Manna just posted Lifecycle Marketing: A Strategy to Generate Leads, Increase Sales & Save Time

  8. says

    Hi Kristi, thanks so much for putting this into a blog post! As a Gmail user, I do get the feeling I’m definitely missing important updates since the switch to tabs, but it does make email feel a little more manageable to me. As a marketer, it makes me wonder if in the future there may be less emphasis on subscribers and more on community building (connections and fans). It’s going to be super easy for our list members to forget to check that promotions tab once they get accustomed to this new layout. Out of sight out of mind. Presents a new challenge for sure!
    Stephanie Sammons just posted Should You Accept or Decline that LinkedIn Invitation to Connect?

  9. says

    This new Tab feature creating big problems for me, My Sales goes down to 90% after this promotional tab option in Gmail, I saw some IM are spreading news about the new Gmail Promotional tab so their users or subscribers will read their news letters and offer related e mails.

  10. says

    I got rid of my tabs as soon as Gmail brought them out. What a useless feature! It solves no problems that anyone ever had. I want to open my inbox and see all my new messages in one go – not to have to waste time opening separate tabs to see them! Interesting about Gmail sending ads as emails, though. I haven’t seen any of those yet but I guess it’s just a matter of time.
    Simon just posted The best places to visit in Cambodia

  11. says

    Hi Kristi,
    I do like that the important messages go into one folder. Although I do question some of Google’s choices. I wonder if some people are paying to go into the primary folder because they are some obviously promotional emails making it in there on their own.
    The one problem with the tabs is that it makes it a lot easier to miss emails. I’ve missed several because of the tabs. I like your idea to put the screenshots at the email subscribe form.
    Stacy Claflin just posted What Supernatural Taught Me About Self Publishing

  12. says

    Overall I like the changes. Too often I get on an email list and don’t really care to see it in my main inbox along with emails from family or friends.

    For those email lists I’m on that are important and aren’t a “marketing” type email I already have in a folder/label. But a few are still in the Updates and Promotions.

    I have found since getting the new look the day it came out that I rarely check the Promotions tab anymore. I’ll glance at it, but most of that email isn’t personal or that important so I don’t mind it there.

    But I do think this will crush most email marketers and have them scrambling. And not just those emailing marketing type posts, but those like Derek Halpern that email out new blog posts and etc, with the hopes you will buy once on their site. It’s still “marketing” but not in a sales pitch way.

    This change to me puts more emphasis on social to me.

    I haven’t decided if I’ll change back or not.

  13. says

    I’m so glad they let me turn the tabbed feature off. Usually these companies make you use the new layout whether you like it or not (cough, Facebook, cough!)
    Matt just posted Godaddy VPS Coupon

  14. says

    I’m just wondering who said Google to do it or if someone needed it. Or given that everything Google does is to make a profit how they think they’ll make it with tabs, probably as you pointed out sending ads or pushing AdWords.

    Really, it seems to me that Google has a burning desire to go out of business and it will happen soon if they go on doing things this way. Gmail is a free service but this doesn’t mean that we are their slaves.

    As for me I usually use all mail but thanks for the heads up anyway. :)
    Andrea Hypno just posted 3 Things Your Cat can Teach You about Life

  15. says

    Although this solution may not be perfect it does address a serious problem – bloated inboxes from e-mail subscriptions. I’ve been using unroll.me and I’ve been loving it (though it’s a bit wonky). It saves me at least 15 minutes a day… As far as the new tabs, I like the fact that you can train gMail to send certain subscriptions to your primary inbox as well. Overall it seems like a move in the right direction, though it may be a pain in the ass for e-mail marketers. Get used to it… you’re playing on Google’s property. They’re going to do what’s best for Google.


  16. says

    Hi Kikolani,

    Nice article! I like how you provided suggestions for how to make it work as well as addressing some of the concerns. I referenced your article in my latest on the same topic.

    Would be cool to get some feedback on my article (looks like it’ll post below my comment), as I came to a different conclusion…that it could actually be a welcome change for email marketers that provide some really good value in newsletters. Still waiting for all the data to roll in of course but we shall see! Thanks again for your insight.
    David Abramson just posted New Gmail Layout May 2013 | The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  17. says

    For some reason my gmail has not switched to tabs yet, but I already know I don’t want it. A while back I decided to start using labels, and when you use certain labels, gmail adds mail to them automatically, just like tabs. What seemed like a time saver at first, became a hassle. So thanks for letting me know how to get rid of the tabs when they eventually appear.
    Jennifer Wagner just posted Divergent YA Book to Movie Trilogy – The Next Hunger Games?

  18. says

    I like to keep everything in a single inbox; I tried separating them but considering I check my emails quite often, it’s easier to put into action of an incoming email right away

    But if you check your emails every few hours or so and you get tons of emails, then separating them with tabs is the way to go (coz you can prioritise which to read/reply)
    Michael Aulia just posted Tt eSPORTS DRACCO Captain gaming headset review

  19. says

    Thank you for posting these helpful tips. Having played around with Gmail settings myself many times over (whenever they release a new update) I knew right where to go to get my mailbox back to normal. I really like the idea of incorporating a line in your emails about “Using the New Gmail Tabs?” That is a great way to make sure your subscribers don’t lose your emails.

  20. says

    Hello Kristi,
    I hope you are in great health. I always love to enjoy these type of well explained articles. but i would like to share something with you that is these Gmail New Tabs are very annoying for me. although this is very good change in GMail. but i would like to enjoy all emails in one place. i don’t wanna move from one Tab to another Tab this is very annoying for me.
    Thanks for sharing this :)
    Have a great Weekend Ahead :)
    Praveen Soni just posted Top 5 Best Antivirus for Android Phones and Tablets

  21. says

    Thanks for the pretty much useful tutorial, Kristi. Something I was looking for!
    When Derek Halpern first sent out an email about Gmail’s new inbox tabs, I ignored it, and thought It can’t be something I should care about. But when I noticed a significant decrease in open rates after sending an email to my list, I had to find a way to get rid of those tabs.
    This is a helpful tutorial, thanks again.
    Ehsan just posted How to Increase Blog Traffic: Top 10 Ways That Works

  22. says

    I must be the only marketer that isn’t worried about Gmail tabs. I was already filtering newsletters and other items I subscribed to out of the inbox. With the new tabs, I was able to delete a lot of filters and now can see when new items are available in the brightly colored tabs.

    One thing I believe happens is if a newsletter arrived at an inopportune time, many will just delete it if they are focused on something else (at least I would!). By filtering them into the promotions tab, people will use down time to scan and read those items that are interesting to them. In many cases, users will be more likely to read your email than before. Once users get used to the new organization, they will adjust it to their liking.

    I do like how you handled new subscribers and where to find your content. Excellent idea!

    Just a note: if someone is using Google Apps for Business, they have the new Gmail interface but their email address doesn’t end in gmail.com.
    Debra Murphy just posted GMail Tabs – Email Marketers Don’t Panic!

  23. says

    Hi Kristi,
    Gmail is continually changing to improve user experience, and when someone uses tabs they surely notice it, but the same is also true when someone disables them. Remember many Google products have been deleted for not being widely used after some time.

    Personally I don’t need yet another way to sort email, so I simply disabled tabs to ensure I get all my email. I think this change will only stay if they see enough people embracing it. Otherwise it will be deleted with time. As always, the key is to offer truly useful content that readers will want to look for.
    Francisco Aguirre just posted Combatir la ansiedad con ayuda psicológica

  24. says

    Thanks for this post Kristi. I’m enjoying the tabs at present, and my email open rates are still pretty similar, but I’ll keep a close eye on this over the next few days and weeks
    Haroun Kola just posted Gold Coins

  25. says

    I had noticed this update on gmail days before and those days it seemed nothing to me but later on i just created a tab named as forums and i noticed that all the notifications about the forums came directly to that tab.This is an innovative idea from google i think no one has ever tried something like this before.Anyway thanks for sharing this article it will be very useful for newbies!
    Nithin Upendran just posted Apple iPad 3 Vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Deciphering the Oddities

    • says

      Thanks Kristi, I’ll be sure to check it out. Gmail seems to be the best free email service and has been for a while, for example Yahoo and even worse Hotmail are targets for a lot of spam it seems and my gmail account is 4 years old and still no spam. These tabs do sound useful in a way but I agree and expect they will cause inconvenience. The best way to control email filtering is to be careful where your email address is entered online and on profiles settings etc. to set individual email preferences for each account. Checking 5 tabs for all email sounds very annoying.

  26. says

    Dear Kristi,

    Great and timely post.

    I have an email newsletter that I send out twice a week and it get’s about a 50% open rate. Last month I suddenly notice a drop in my open rates but did not know the reason why.

    Another blogger shared this article with me and quickly sent an email to all my subscribers with a short tutorial on how to get rid of this ridiculous new inbox style. I also posted the same to facebook and twitter and saw a slight increase in my email open rates.

    Thanks for the article.
    Jake just posted Calling all Wellness Seekers!

  27. says

    Hi Kristi,
    It’s been a while since I have come to your blog. I’m glad I came here today.
    This post on the new gmail tabs is really valuable. I don’t have the tabs gmail. I still have the regular gmail. Guess I don’t like change much.
    Every time I come to your blog I learn something new.
    Thanks for your commitment and sharing.
    Geri Richmond
    Geri Richmond just posted Reviewing Material And Downloadable Products For Cash#2

  28. says

    Thanks so much for the post – we have over 15,000 email subscribers through feedburner and was wondering why out hit rate from subscriptions went down by over 25% suddenly. Ironically, feedburner is owned by Google so surely they should know better than to label emails from their own blog feed service as ‘Promotional’.
    Sizwe just posted The Big Deal about Big Data

  29. says

    Hey Kristi,

    When Gmail new features were launched, it affected my newsletter … ALOT! My open rate reduced close to 30% and it really took sometime for me to bounce back.

    Thought I am not a huge Internet Marketer but certainly, I can feel this is extremely challenging. However, I am slowly getting the hang of it and hopefully, things goes out well soon :)

    Thanks for your lovely write up.

    Take care!
    Reginald just posted Optinskin vs Hybrid Connect – Best Mailing List Plugin

  30. says

    Thanks for sharing, Kristi.

    I partly agree with you. The introduction of the ‘Promotions’ tab may appear to be a nightmare for marketers as their promotional messages are now hidden under tabs.

    But from the perspective of user experience, I much prefer the current Gmail as I get to focus on the more important things first before moving on to the promotional messages, and when I’m actually on the ‘Promotions’ tab, I actually read the subject titles (instead of deleting anything spammy-like right away if they get mixed up with the more important mails). I do subscribe to a few daily deal sites & online sources, but I just don’t want them to intrude me first thing in the morning when I got many other e-mails to read and respond first.

    Though it hasn’t happened so far, I agree with you that I won’t like having the local businesses I care about to be lumped under the ‘Promotions’ tab as well. But if it really does matter, I can always move the message to the normal tab

    From a marketer’s point of view, I think it’s not all that bad that users now see their promotional messages when they are most receptive to them. The obvious downside is that some Gmail users might not even click on the ‘Promotions’ tab to begin with, but these users are probably those who are irritated of promotions in general and think of them as ‘spams’. But for those who think of promotions as ‘promotions’, they could actually be welcoming of the new Gmail feature. I’d say, maximise the returns by cultivating the right customers.
    Andrew Darwitan just posted Journalists’ Biggest Pet Peeves about PR Practitioners in Asia