Is it time to panic for email marketers? Do you control your Gmail inbox?

Those are just a couple of the many questions flying around the blogosphere lately.

Google has been rolling out significant changes to Gmail since early June, causing anxiety amongst many list owners and users.

For those who missed the update or don’t use the service, Gmail now automatically segments emails into different “tabbed categories” as outlined below.

  • Primary: Messages from friends and family, as well as any other messages that don’t appear in other tabs.
  • Promotions: Your deals, offers, and other promotional emails.
  • Social: Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, gaming platforms, and other social websites.
  • Updates: Notifications such as confirmations, receipts, bills, and statements.
  • Forums: Messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists.

Gmail Inbox Changes

Is This a Good or Bad Change for Users?

As with anything, there are pros and cons attached to the new Gmail inbox.

The new inbox does allow one to easily “clean up” and organize emails, in theory. That’s great for users who otherwise feel overwhelmed by their email.

On the other hand, some users (myself included) feel completely capable of determining which emails they want to see without auto-filtering, whether or not the emails are promotional in nature.

Prior to the update, users had plenty of control over their inbox with filters, labels, and spam-marking abilities. At worst, if someone was emailing too often or emailing uninteresting content, unsubscribing in the vast majority of cases was only a click or two away.

Should Email Marketers Be in a Frenzy?

Though it’s a little early to tell what impact the new inbox may have on email open rates, Mailchimp recently published a post claiming open rates were negatively impacted by the change.

If this is the case, there is cause for concern for any business sending promotional emails, as they will likely be caught in Gmail’s Promotions tab. Unless users are adamant about checking that tab, emails could easily be missed.

Some marketers aren’t panicking just yet, however, saying this new layout presents an opportunity to capture even more leads and sales than before, because people who click the Promotions tab are doing so with the knowledge they’re about to read promotional emails. In other words, they’re making a conscious decision to be “open to the sale.”

How To Go Back to the Old Inbox Layout

Users can easily go back to the un-tabbed Gmail inbox for the time being. Eventually, this option probably won’t be available.

To go back to the un-tabbed inbox:

  • Click + next to the rightmost tab in your Gmail inbox.
  • Make sure all tabs except Primary are not checked under Select tabs to enable.
  • Click Save.

Alternatively, if you prefer to keep the tabs, but you want certain promotional emails delivered straight to your Primary inbox, you can simply drag and drop those emails into the Primary tab and Google will “learn” to place future emails from that address in the Primary tab.

What Are Your Thoughts on the New Gmail?

Are you happy with the new Gmail tabbed inbox as a user or an email marketer? What pros and cons do you see?