Primary Inboxing in Gmail: A Doubled-Edged Sword
Written by
Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar

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Primary Inboxing in Gmail: A Doubled-Edged Sword

Published : November 13, 2018

With great power comes great responsibility. – Ben Parker                                 

While watching this inspirational scene between Ben and Peter Parker in the first instalment of Spiderman franchise featuring Tobey Maguire, I was wondering if the same quote applies to marketers yearning for their emails to land in Gmail’s primary inbox?

All brands across industries are obsessed with delivering their promotional mails within their users’ Gmail primary inbox.

The Primary tab is mostly used for transactional and personal emails which the users consider important. These emails have a higher open rate than other tabs of Gmail which don’t receive the same degree of user attention.

According to Return Path’s Hidden Metrics for Email Deliverability, 2018, spam placement for all industries in 2017 was around 13% . That means 87% of emails would land in the inbox folder within Gmail.

Now, as an email marketer, if you can land your promotional emails in the primary tab by hacking Gmail’s accurate internal algorithms, you will benefit from “powers” that the primary tab offers: 

  1. Higher Open Rates: So Peter Parker was a nerd, and seemingly invisible at school. This changed when he was bitten by a mutant spider and underwent a drastic transformation. This is akin to how your email gets treated once it lands in the primary inbox. This place is a rarely visited one, where a marketer stumbles upon, where, a normal promotional box mail will return 5% open rate, the primary tab will return up to 20% or more opens. This means your mails will be more accessible to your subscribers who will be able to read your content and avail relevant offers. 
  2. Improved Click Rates = Elevated Conversions: The more your offer gets clicked on, the more users will be able to visit the website and potentially complete transactions. This leads to an increase in transactions and your conversion rate receives a boost.
  3. Enhanced Brand Exposure: The mails will land in the primary inbox for your average subscribers as well as those non-openers who have been ignoring your promotional offers for a while. This results in increased visibility across your subscriber spectrum, including both active and inactive users.
  4. Drive higher personalisation: Adding a personal greeting in the email that lands in the primary inbox can go a long way when it comes to personalisation. This will certainly help in increasing the number of returning customers.

    How AI-powered Delivery Enabled Myntra Improve Email Campaign Performance by 60%, 2X that of Industry Standards

We went over the “powers” that primary inboxing can bestow, here’s where the “responsibility” angle kicks in for marketers like you:

  1. Greater Exposure = Higher User Reported Spam: It gets a bit tricky here. So, you have done the background checks and Gmail has filtered your mails in to hit the primary inbox. Should you celebrate in anticipation yet? Probably not.Assume that a subscriber wasn’t aware if he had subscribed to your mailing service and was happily ignoring those mails in his promotions tab. When he sees your mail in the primary tab, he might get a bit agitated as it would distract him from relevant personal mail and communication. He is likely to click that button to report it as spam.Several of those spam complaints and soon, Gmail will bring down your sending domain reputation.
    6 Hacks to Reduce User-Reported Spam Rates to Maximise your Email Marketing Strategy
  2. More Spam = Fall in IPR: As user spam complaints increase, inboxing will dip as Gmail will start filtering your emails as spam. It would then be difficult to inbox to even your most engaged subscribers. It would be equivalent to Spiderman going rogue under the influence of the “Venom” symbiote and sabotaging all the good work he had done before!
  3. Feedback Loop Complaints: Though we at Netcore Smartech strictly ask for double opt-in emailing lists, if there is a case where a user was signed up via single opt-in and the user was unaware of receiving promotional emails, the same landing in his/her primary box could lead them to complaining to Gmail as abuse.This could further reduce reputation and Gmail will start blacklisting your network IPs and domains rapidly.
  4. Higher Unsubscriptions: Exposure of your brand to all your subscribers could lead to a rise in unsubscribes. Now this may not be a bad thing since we always urge our clients to clean their lists. But maybe a user unsubscribed because he/she was disturbed by your promotional emails in middle of their work mails or other important mails.That could trigger a decision to just get rid of them from your subscriptions.One less subscriber = One less business opportunity.

As deliverability experts in Email Analytics, we understand that primary inboxing will lead to better engagement with your subscribers but it should not happen at the cost of user-reported spam complaints which could be a major hurdle for your deliverability efforts.

Don’t target your inactive subscribers with primary inboxing as they are more likely to increase your deliverability problems, and hit resultant conversions.  

Get in touch with us today, to find out how can unleash the power of AI-based email delivery to maximise primary inboxing.

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Written By: Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar is a Senior Product Evangelist at Netcore Cloud. He likes analyzing data and diving deep to find valuable insights for marketers. He is credited for writing Industry benchmark reports and marketing leaders’ reports. He also likes to give back to the email industry with his volunteer work at the Only Influencers Diversity Committee. An #emailgeek at heart, he likes writing blogs, sharing email knowledge, and making thought-provoking videos on all things email. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, reading books, and drinking his favorite Chai, in his free time.