9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Keep Your Auto Marketing Emails Out of the Gmail Promotions Tab

When Gmail introduced its new tabbed interface in mid-2013, which automatically separated emails into different categories, content marketers everywhere mourned. It meant their carefully crafted emails were now being dumped into the dreaded Promotions tab, along with all the other ad-related stuff their contacts were getting.

With more than 900 million users as of this May, Gmail is the number-one email provider in the U.S. That means a good percentage of your potential customers are affected by this change–making it a pretty big deal for you as an auto dealer.

From a user standpoint, Gmail's tabs are pretty handy. Now divided into Primary, Social, and Promotions, they allow you to see at a glance what types of messages you've received. 

But for automotive marketers, the tabs can mean trouble as many people have started to simply ignore their Promotions tab in favor of their more “important” Primary emails.

So how do you prevent your auto marketing emails from falling into the Promotions tab? Here are our top seven tips for keeping your emails front and center in Gmail inboxes.

7 Ways to Keep Your Emails Out of the Gmail Promotions Tab

  1. Increase your open and click-through rates. Easier said than done, we know, but auto dealers with high email engagement are more likely to show up in the Primary tab. To boost your open and click rates, make sure your emails have compelling content and clear calls to action.
  2. Segment your audience carefully. You should always be striving to send the right content to the right people, but it's especially important when you're trying to get people to click on your emails. Not only will sending targeted messages help keep you out of the Promotions tab naturally, it'll also help you build a following of people who are excited to open your emails in the future.
  3. Create time-sensitive content. If you want to ensure people are eager to open your emails, cultivate a sense of urgency around your messaging. Focus on sales, events, and offers with deadlines to train your contacts into thinking that your emails are time-sensitive and thus need to be opened and clicked on ASAP.
  4. Don't use “free” in the subject line. “Free” is one of those classic buzzwords spammers use to catch people's attention–and Google's onto them. Use it and you'll be sent straight to Promotions.
  5. Send simple emails. Like the word “free,” emails that rely on flashy graphics, complicated layouts, or tons of links are a dead giveaway to Google that you're selling something. Try sending a short, plain email with no images and no more than one link. Not only will you fool Google into thinking you're sending a personalized email, you'll also appear more down to earth to your customers.
  6. Ditch the RSS. If you're using an RSS feed to distribute your content, turn it off. Google can sense that these emails are sent automatically (rather than by a real person) and thus puts them right in Promotions.
  7. Ask your contacts to switch your mail to Primary. If you have a loyal customer base, consider asking them to move your messages to their Primary folder using Gmail's opt-in feature. You can also ask new contacts to add your email address to their address book when they're filling out your form to ensure they receive all future emails from you.

What's Good about the Gmail Promotions Tab

We know we just listed reasons to avoid the Promotions tab, but it's not all bad.

Since users have to click into the Promotions tab in order to see marketing messages, it follows that they'll only go there when they want to.

With the old way, in which all email was thrown into one big folder, people could easily overlook (or worse, blindly delete) promotional emails they didn't want to see. With Gmail's new tabs, users can choose when they want to focus on work–and when they want to shop.

So if you find your auto marketing emails in the Gmail Promotions tab more often than not, don't sweat it too much. Just keep trying to send the best content to the best audience, and you'll see your email engagement grow–regardless of which tab it happens in.