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Optimizing Email Marketing for Gmail’s New Promotions Tab

Learn how to increase engagement, visibility, and relevancy with new Gmail Promotions tab features

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Marketers should always strive to be knowledgeable of tech updates and advancements, especially when it comes to email marketing, where the rules are constantly changing. In this post, we’ll review everything you need to know about how to optimize email performance to increase your placement on Gmail’s new Promotions tab.

How does it work?

Gmail’s Promotions tab leverages machine learning to place the most valuable messages at the top of the user’s list, making these messages readily available and accessible. It gives users more control as to what they want to see and when.

How to Utilize the Power of Gmail's New Promotions Tab - Litmus

What are the new Catalog Cards?

The Promotions tab includes visual aids in the form of “catalog cards” that make your message more recognizable and engaging to customers. The catalog cards include expiration dates, coupon codes, image previews, deal badges, and custom logos, making it all much more appealing to click.

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In the future, there will be catalog cards featuring CTAs, too, allowing customers to take the required action without even clicking to open the email. And there will be an option for the cards to be rendered in a carousel view:

And how does that affect open rates, you must be asking? Open rates will not appear in the system for you to access! Don’t sweat though – Google’s Engagement team has confirmed that the levels of engagement with the Catalog Card’s CTA will rank higher than an open towards reputation and deliverability.

Also, important to note that ‘opens’, as a metric, is mostly a means to an end when the goal is to click through, which can still be measured here.

TIP: Create a Gmail tab test account

By creating a Gmail Tab test account, you can see features before the general public does, access a more aggressive ranking, and bundle emails that make testing easier.

We recommend creating a Gmail account for testing purposes with a name similar to: [email protected].

How to optimize emails with Annotations?

Only in the Promotions tab, Annotations allow you to highlight your email and provide users with a much more visual interface. Annotating your email gives you the ability to add information like images, your logo, promo codes, expiration dates on deals, etc.

Annotations will display your catalog cards, help with Google’s Primary tab “teasers,” and other machine-learning algorithms. Annotations can easily be added through your ESP’s visual editors by adding a simple JSON-LD code as a script tag in the heading of your email’s HTML.

Why use email Annotations?

Email marketing experts want to incorporate a preview image in their email in the Promotion tab and annotate their offer’s expiration for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Gmail sends most B2C messages to the user’s Promotion tab due to the image-to-text ratio and the number of links in an email. Therefore, your customers mainly view the emails you send them from there.

Secondly, many Gmail users don’t make their way to the Promotion tab quite often. So, with Gmail now using the expiration annotation, your emails will appear in the preview banner in the user’s main inbox when the offer is close to expiring. That’s a great opportunity for engagement!

Best Practices

Here are some of the best tips and tricks that you should keep in mind when optimizing emails for the Gmail Promotions tab:

1. Single image preview

    • Avoid text-only
      This space was designed for visual components to enhance engagement and brand recognition.
    • Crop smart
      While Google will auto-fit your image to the space allowed, consider an aspect ratio of 3:9 or image size of 538×138 pixels. GIF and WEBP are not supported.
    • Keep images fresh
      Avoid reusing images from email to email so your message won’t be disregarded or viewed as being a duplicate by subscribers.

How to Utilize the Power of Gmail's New Promotions Tab - Litmus

2. Green Deal Badge

    • Keep it short and sweet
      Avoid using more than four words or using whole sentences – it will compete with the subject line and truncate.
    • Don’t misuse the badge
      “Free Shipping” or “Save $20 Now” are great options! Do not use badges for CTAs like “Open Now.”
    • Keep it relevant
      For the optimal user experience, make sure the deal is relevant to what the subscriber will see when opening the message.

3. Promo Code & Expiration Date

    • Use ‘Code’ in your discount code
      Remember to always use the word “Code” before the annotated text and to use an actual code (or don’t include anything).
    • Use expiration dates
      It helps the Google algorithm determine when to preview an email, tease it, and more.
    • Time zones
      Include time zone information to have specific start and end times. For more information on date formatting, click here.

Planning for the future

In the future, there will be a more considerable disparity between open rates, clicks, and site traffic as open rates become obsolete due to clicks on Catalog Cards. Therefore, it is recommended to look for opportunities to adjust your templates based on the addition of the new Promotions tab. This will help your brand maximize subscriber engagement and overall conversion.

By properly taking advantage of the Promotions tab on Gmail, your opportunity to attract and retain users with your email marketing initiatives is much vaster than before.

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Pini Yakuel

Pini co-founded Optimove in 2012 and has led the company, as its CEO, since its inception. With two decades of experience in analytics-driven customer marketing, business consulting and sales, he is the driving force behind Optimove. His passion for innovative and empowering technologies is what keeps Optimove ahead of the curve. He holds an MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Tel Aviv University.

Dana Shirlen

Dana Shirlen leads Optimove’s internal email marketing agency as Director of Email Marketing. Dana has over 15 years managing the email marketing strategies of many recognizable global B2C and B2B brands. As the Director of Email Marketing, Dana is bridging the gap for Optimove’s customers in providing a data-driven marketing plan and timely implementation grounded in best practices, targeted content and visually engaging design. Prior to her role at Optimove, Dana managed the CRM and email marketing strategies for enterprise clients at Tinuiti. Dana holds a BS from Ohio University, with a major in Advertising Management and concentrations in both marketing and creative writing.