How to Land Your Emails in the Gmail “Primary” Tab Every Time

This is a guest post by Luke Guy, the final guest post in the series of guests posts that were scheduled here for the month of March due to speaking and travel engagements.

Mid-last year, Google updated the Gmail interface to include “tabs”, which separate incoming emails into specific categories. There’s the primary tab, the social tab and the promotions tab (not including custom ones you might create yourself). Even if you don’t use gmail as your email client, this is important because a significant portion of your audience probably does.

If you send emails to your email list, you might not even know that your emails are filtering into your readers’ promotional tab, which in most cases never get checked. Many people have seen a significant decrease in email open rate, which is directly related to this change in Google.

Along those lines, I’ve always debated with myself whether or not to use graphics (like headers) in the emails I send out. As you might know, if you’re on my list, I just keep it simple with text-only.

I enjoy using text only because I like to make my emails feel like they’re from a friend, but Luke discovered an interesting byproduct of the way I structure my emails. Here’s Luke to explain more…

How to Get Emails in Gmail Primary Tab I was going through my Gmail account the other day when I noticed some messages had never reached me. Messages that I looked forward to. I love my Gmail and check it many times a day; more than I do my social networks.


I don’t trust just anyone with my email address. You’ve got to be special. Everything I receive in email is nothing but serious business, like laser-to-the-point serious. When I hear a that email “ding”, it better be good.

Back to the point…

My favorite messages, from people I loved hearing from, wasn’t making it to my Gmail.

To be specific, people like Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield.

Did these people just drop off the planet? Did they quit blogging?

I search the other tabs and you won’t believe where I found them… in the Promotions section!


Why is this a big deal?

These guys are important to me and I love reading their stuff. Michael Hyatt was my inspiration when it came to blogging. He’s actually the one who inspired me to start Amy Porterfield was the Facebook Genius who helped me grow my Facebook Fanpage. I needed them both and I knew they had been gone for a while.

It’s amazing how far two tabs over can be.

I hardly ever check these tabs, and I’ll bet that most people do.

Back to the point.

These bloggers, who make 6 figures doing what they do, are getting caught in tabs where spammers belong. That’s a scary thing, because eventually people are going to move on, and just not care about their latest post. Gmail is the main email provider these days and I know this is hurting their email open rates.

Why is Google separating us from people we have subscribed to?

It’s called the Google Algorithm, and it thinks it’s your online nanny.

This “nanny” is actually a filter system and it goes through all your emails. It’s organizing them, putting them in other places so your “Primary” section isn’t flooded with emails you don’t care about.

People are just now realizing this is even happening as their open count is declining by major numbers. How these major bloggers haven’t noticed I have no idea, maybe they have just accepted the fact of lower numbers. Not sure, but they don’t have to, and here’s the common “solution” to get back into the Primary Section (in Gmail) of your readers.

Solution by others:

Email your subscribers telling them to drag your emails over to primary….

My problem with this is, they may not see this email telling them to do this, because that was the point of the email to begin with. Second, people find this inconvenient, tiresome, and it’s not even a guarantee. I did this to Michael Hyatt’s email and the next one ended up back in the “Promotions” section anyway. So go figure. This may or may not work for you.

Here comes the REAL solution.

I have another blogger that I love reading from. His name?

Pat Flynn.

He’s been featured in a lot of major places and he’s really good at helping people with passive income. But what really makes this guy stand out is his email formatting. Everyone of them is making it to my “Primary” section in Gmail.

Very strategic and many people haven’t caught on, including other major bloggers as you saw above. To get a closer view of Pat’s and other successful emails, click here: Examples Of Viral Newsletters Released.

His emails are short, packed with tips, and content that should be found in a major blog somewhere. I have yet to find Pat trying to sell anything through email like most do. Which I’m sure he does, it’s just so rare. Links aren’t everywhere in these post and he’s straight to the point. He doesn’t write me on the weekends and it’s like he knows when I’m available. Smart guy, almost like my best friend.

Want to know what makes his emails unique?

Here are the secret ingredients:

  1. Have no more than 1 link in your email.
  2. Include no pictures.
  3. Mention the readers name using Merge Tag Tricks with MailChimp or Aweber.
  4. Turn off the Rss Campaign. If you want a higher open count, you must type these emails out by hand.
  5. Write to the reader like he’s your friend.
  6. Don’t go spammy like this: Hey!!!WANT TO MAKE MONEY FAST??!?!?!
  7. Write in Traditional Letter Form.

Here’s an example of one of Pat’s emails:


Here’s one of Michael’s:


And Amy’s:


Google seems to be measuring the tone these guys are writing in based on links, phrases, and picture count. It also can tell if it’s an RSS feed shot out by an email service.

What emails are the most fashionable?

Well Michael’s and Amy’s of course! But which one made the touchdown?


When it comes to email, fashion is a bad thing.

I love all of these guys and they share some very helpful information. Michael is who got me into blogging and Amy is who got me into Facebook advertising. All very good information provided by these guys. Just wanted to show how easy it is to trigger Google into placing your emails into other tabs; tabs that are hardly ever clicked on.

For spammers that’s okay, but not these guys. Hopefully they’ll change their format, because I love their stuff and want to see it in my primary.

So let this be a lesson, and use these strategies to stay out of the “no man’s land”.

So is all this really worth it?

Leave comments below and tell us how you feel about the extra effort.

This is a guest post by Luke Guy, who is both a graphic artist and blogger. He blogs at He’s loves to blog and help people with the visual aspects of their business along with providing business research in a creative way.

Also, I’m curious, which kind of email do YOU prefer? Do you like and appreciate the graphics and headers, or does text only work for you? Please share below!

  • Create To Last

    For me it has always been best to stay casual in email. Banners seem to drive people away or make them feel like they are watching a commercial. Simple is best.

    • luke martin

      “Simple is best.” I like that! And Gmail does too.

      • Marty Simpson

        When email is classified as Promotions on gmail it should hurt the open rate on the iPhone app though. I use apple-mail to check my gmail address and it DOES NOT have the emails that are in promotions tab in the iPhone email app. Meaning, iPhone users are super-effected by the promotions tab if you think of it that way?? Right??

        Any update on the “unsubscribe link” being automatically promotional? I know this thread is a year old now…

  • Ryan Hache

    Michael and Amy show up in your promotions folder because they use infusionsoft.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Sort of. I still use MailChimp for my big mailings (my daily newsletter, for example) but use Infusionsoft for all campaign mailings. We sync the databases between the two. The example used in the article is from MailChimp.

      • @DarrellWolfe

        So that’s why I got you in two/three different tabs. Huh… interesting.

        • Michael Hyatt

          May be. I probably need to study this more.

      • Ryan Hache

        it also looks like mail chimp is where you sent most of your emails now that I look deeper.

        It’s Interesting that MailChimp is going to promotions on gmail.

        I’m on your list and would imagine others love your content as much as I do so your engagement should be where it needs to be for gmail.

        I just opted into your list on the big 3 (gmail,outlook,yahoo) and got your decorated emails in my inbox for all 3. But it is very likely that Mail Chimp sends both their confirmation emails and their subscription confirmed emails from an entirely different server cluster than their broadcast emails and auto responders.

        For that “new post” are you using an automated rss feature?
        or sending a broadcast email manually?

        that could be the issue.

        • Michael Hyatt

          The new post is an automated RSS feature.

          I use MailChimp for my blog posts and Infusionsoft for automated campaigns.

        • Ryan Hache

          So it could be..

          1. the server reputation or send method the feature uses to send the RSS emails.


          2. emails hadn’t been opened from that gmail account in a while.
          (i’m monitoring this and will make my findings available for those interested)


          3. the images (but I really don’t think so in this case)

          @disqus_LMtZu9h91i:disqus where you able to conclude it was in fact the image?

          also one of your points is never use the RSS feature because it has bad open rates. Is there a specific reason that is has bad open rates that you know of?

          or could this feature just be an issue at specific providers?

        • Ryan Hache

          I just ruled out low engagement as the possible problem. I just got this to my spam folder in gmail and it was the second email after I just confirmed.

          I would try sending that RSS email manually as a broadcast to see if you get a better open rate.

  • Phil Johnson

    These are good points. I try to stay casual and friendly in my emails too. The tip about just one link per email I hadn’t thought of though.

    I did read recently that Gmail will throw anything with an “unsubscribe” link into the Promotions folder. I guess that’s not the case though if Pat is making the inbox.

    • luke martin

      Yes, Phil casual and friendly emails work really well. Making your emails exclusive is a must as also. As for the unsubscribe issue, it hasn’t effected Pat yet, so we will see.

  • Mark

    I have to agree with you on Pat’s style. I rarely go for the “fashion” emails and more often than not, end up unsubscribing from them. However, I do understand both schools of thoughts and I suppose it boils down to testing your audience.

    • luke martin

      Ultimately it does depend on your open rates and audience. But if you try these points I believe your rates will increase. Simple is better. Always has. Thanks for commenting Mark!

      • @DarrellWolfe

        I guess it really depends on the audience. As a reader I prefer the fashion emails. Plain text emails make my eyes gloss over and I’m less likely to read them unless I’m already passionate about the Author (As I am in Pat’s case! Love you Pat, you are awesome!)

        But I could totally see how others prefer the text. Can you give readers the choice? Is that an option in these mail services? “Text” vs “HTML”? I’ve never looked?

        • Luke Guy

          Yes it is, but if Google doesn’t like the HTML because of Images it doesn’t matter. It’s not coming through. Michael just sent an email yesterday without headers and it came through, so I know pictures hurt open rates a lot.

        • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

          Google doesn’t like html because of images? Pictures hurt open rates a lot? This is pure nonsense.

      • Mark

        Aye, it seems to me that the old business saying “It’s not what you want, it’s what they want” can be applied here. While I do want simple emails, I know I can’t avoid the fashion emails. I suppose it boils down to A/B testing here like you said, it depends on the audience and open rates. Hmmm…

  • Nick Kizirnis

    Straightforward and simple is best! Those are great points, thanks Luke! I don’t mind a few graphics if the layout is nice and clean. I’m kind of tired of big banners if they don’t serve a purpose … I think Noah Kagen’s newsletter is a good example of that. It has no header, and graphics as needed (his newsletter is his blog post). Thanks again!

    • luke martin

      I appreciate the feedback Nick! Hope it brings much success to you.

  • Matt Schmidt

    Great tips. It will be interesting if Google can come out with a study or analysis that shows the number of primary emails that are opened as a opposed to social and promotional. No doubt the percentages would be smaller.

    • Solomon Mwale

      They will also have to come up with the filter email tools like those that we have in Yahoo and Hotmail they are really necessary when it comes to email management.

  • Greg Stannard

    A lot of the email I send is read on mobile devices, so it would seem that you can still have the graphics, etc., and not have a major problem with this. Is that your experience? Even if so, I don’t have a good handle on the remainder of my email recipients: if they are using gmail interface, or if they are getting email via other methods. Do you have any sense of how many of your email readers see email primarily through the google interface??

    • luke martin

      Greg, I’ll have to look but the highest percentage of my users use gmail. That’s a fact. But soon all email providers will use this method, I believe that.

    • luke martin

      The tabs are on mobile too by the way. Nothing changes even if its in mobile version. Everything was divided in the same order.

      • @DarrellWolfe

        My mobile doesn’t use tabs.

        • Luke Guy

          I have android and they can be on the left under Primary.

        • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

          The tabs are not on mobile for everyone. Even so, who cares. If people are not reading your emails, maybe it’s because they suck not because they’re in the promotions folder.

  • Glen Craig

    Wow, very interesting insights. I only have a logo in my newsletter but I also have formatting for the text. I’m thinking I’ll try straight up text next time and test if my open rates change drastically.

    About a month ago I switched from having my whole article in the newsletter to having a friendly paragraph or so about what our latest article is and why you should head over and read it. My open rates went up. I have to wonder if some of that could be due to the tone rather than the format?

  • Thomas Frank

    Great post. I’d almost forgotten about the tabs, since I disabled them the moment they came out. However, I’ve always preferred Pat’s style of emails anyway, as they seem more personal. I’m much more likely to read them. As a result, I create my newsletters in the same fashion – though I did take some time to develop a responsive template for them so the text looks nice on mobile devices.

  • juel rahman

    Ver good boss Pat flyn.

  • Mike @1000islandsboat

    Great tip. My gmail inbox doesn’t have tabs. Not sure why. If it’s an option for everyone to go with no tabs, why not use that to solve the problem?

    • Solomon Mwale

      I might be that you had cleared them in the beginning you first saw them. They where on almost everyone Gmail account after Google had put them in place.

  • Efraïm AYEWE

    Hi Pat and Luke! excellent article (Y) it’s verry important to change strategies. in the oposit way, verry bad result :) Thanks fore that share

  • Ironthumb

    I guess pat already knew about that even before this post was published..
    didnt you Pat?

    • Solomon Mwale

      I do not think so maybe after finding out when it happened to him that is why he has decided to share. He very good at sharing all the tools that he believe have helped him in one way or another all in all so that he can be of help yo people like you and me.

      Thank you so much for tips as we will not be the victims of this.

    • luke martin

      I don’t think Pat realized it from a technical view point. He just saw the benefits of being more social than spammy. His response from the users were greater and open rate was too. So naturally he stuck with it. I don’t blame him, it worked great.

  • Darren

    This doesn’t really help at all. It’s not a solution to the problem. What a bummer!

  • Michael Hyatt

    We actually did quite a bit of split testing last fall. We tested three formats: fully branded (like the screenshot you included), minimally branded, and faux plain text. I was convinced that the plain text version would out perform the others in terms of deliverability, opens, and click-throughs.

    Not so much.

    The fully-branded out-performed the other two. Note: these were on new subscribers, so the results weren’t tainted by people who had previously seen the fully branded version.

    My open rates have not decreased since Google started doing this. I can only conclude that most of my readers don’t access email through the Gmail interface.

    To me this proves that you have to test, test, test. You can’t just come up with a general rule and then apply it without regard for your audience’s specific behavior. Thanks.

    • luke martin

      Michael, thank-you for taking the time to comment! This was a study performed from a Gmail user perspective and a general rule for those who want to aim at Gmail users.

      For instance, my email users use Gmail more than anything else, according to my Mailchimp account. So this study would work great for people like me whose users prefer Gmail. If the majority is coming from MSN or Yahoo, this may not affect your open rates as much.

      I love your articles Michael and like I said earlier, you inspired me to start You’re a respectable figure in the blogging world. I just hated it that your emails wasn’t coming to me. So I did this study and these were the results I got.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I loved reading your study. No problem there at all.

        Most of my subscribers use Gmail, too (41%). I was just pointing out that that doesn’t necessarily mean they access Gmail through the online interface that includes the promotions tab. I don’t know this for sure; I just can’t account for why my open rates haven’t fallen if they are.

        Thanks for a great article and an excellent conversation starter.

        • luke martin

          Thank-you for the kind words Michael.

          That’s a mystery within itself, but whose to say that your open rates wouldn’t increase overtime after that last Google tweak?

          The most important thing is that I miss the “dings” I got from my phone when you published a new article! My gmail was the main way I stayed up to date with your stuff. Theres nothing out there better to notify of me of your articles than my Gmail. That’s why I was down about the whole thing.

        • John R. Meese

          I’m a Gmail user and I use the native Gmail email client in my browser (I’m Chrome OS centered, so that’s easiest), but I’ve turned off that tab-sorting. That may be another reason why this hasn’t affected many Gmail users, they may simply have that feature turned off.

        • StefanDo

          Yes, Tabs are optional. But I somehow like them :)

        • @DarrellWolfe

          Just to echo Michael and Luke.

          I’ve noticed the split up and my posts are all over the place when I access Gmail through the web browser. I actually find Gmail’s algorithm annoying and intrusive. It makes it harder for me to get to the info I want and sort it.

          Luke, you are right that even AFTER you drag a sender to the primary tab Gmail sorts it right back to other tabs. In fact Michael’s posts have ended up in THREE tabs of mine depending on which email/post came. The Platform Video series he just sent out came to a different tab than the blog posts.

          But Michael is also right. I rarely use the web browser, frankly because of this very non sense from Google. Also, google’s interface UI is ugly. I actually use emClient to access my email MOST of the time. (PC User) I would use Outlook but they don’t interface well with GCalendar and GTasks, whereas emClient does.

          I know many geeks like me who use Thunderbird or other readers. It’s a MUCH better organizational tool than the web browser, easier to drag and drop and access folders, etc. Outlook type functions.

          On my phone I use a different reader as well that does not tabulate or sort either. In both cases all my email comes to my inbox. It’s only when I access Gmail through their website that I have this problem.

          I think it would be an interesting study to see how many Gmail users actually use the web browser version vs a third party reader?

          Still, it would be a shame to miss the few who do use the browser if they are not checking their other tabs. (Personally: That’s why I use many email addresses too, it keeps thing organized by what I want to read).

          Michael, Luke, and/or Pat, if you are not seeing a drop off in numbers, do you think it would be helpful to put a note on the first sign up screen after the user enters their email on the website:

          “GMAIL USERS: Please check the others tabs to find out emails, they Gmail may sort them out of your primary tab…”

          or something like that? Would that help you think? (Kind of like the old “Check your spam folder” notice?

          Interestingly enough, I actually just emailed Pat and asked why I wasn’t getting his blog posts in my email like I do everyone else. I thought I’d missed it and there were two sign up’s or something.

          SO I’ve been wanting Pat’s posts in my inbox like I was getting several others wondering where they were. So I guess there’s the flip side to going with the “Just” newsletter option?

          REALLY interesting discussion. Thanks all of you for bringing out these points.

          I’ll be checking back in to see what other ideas everyone has on this.

          * For those who are curious I did a write up on why I chose emClient over other choices:

        • Michael Hyatt

          Your suggestion about the thank you page is excellent, Darrell. Thanks so much.

          I did some further research about how many people actually use Gmail’s web browser interface, since the tabs are only found there or on Gmail’s official iOS app.

          Based on research done by Litmus on five million emails opens: “Only 19% of Gmail opens actually occur in Gmail…. To put things in even greater perspective, Gmail opens only account for about 4% of total email opens, and less than half (41%) of those opens are occurring in email clients that support Gmail tabs.”

        • Luke Guy

          Very interesting Darrel! And Michael, the stats are quite intriguing! But with it not even being a year since the tab feature, how do you know Gmail won’t make this change across the board soon within these 3rd parties? I mean how else will these emails be organized without hitting the spam folder? Or how do we know that Yahoo, MSN, Outlook and others won’t take the same step as Gmail?

        • Rebump

          We are running some tests to confirm a hunch we have about the effects of follow-up on getting your emails classified. Will post results once they are in.

        • Luke Guy

          I looked at your website, I like the concept of Rebump. But when the person opens it, rebump doesn’t send anymore, right?

        • Rebump

          When the person responds no more bumps are sent. Looking isn’t enough to cancel the follow-up – because it’s specifically where they were interested and forgot to follow up (or opened it on mobile and didn’t get to save as new) when bumping it back to the inbox is most effective.

        • StefanDo

          The idea is that Tabs make people miss some content. So who wins here? That’s the question…

        • Jjames808

          Super gay…

        • Jjames808

          U guys r gay

  • Bryan Kesler

    Thanks for the article Luke! I use gmail and I just checked my spam box and Pat’s most recent email about using a “resource” page was in there. (hasn’t ever happened before) Guess no one is immune to the Algorithm…

    • luke martin

      If it was a recent one, it’s more likely because of it’s length. Remember, in order to dodge the “Google Nanny” you must keep the tone as a close friend. This is a rare thing though for Pat to be found in a spam folder. So in this case, it could have been due to length or more than 1 link.

      • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

        This is just guessing

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      That’s because this article is pure science fiction and not accurate.

  • jack

    Know what I love about this?…. that Michael took the time to respond and be part of this conversation. Class guy.

    • luke martin

      You know it.

    • Barry Hill

      Very cool indeed—but it doesn’t surprise me a bit that he responded!

  • Nick Logan

    I am really curious if it will help. Especially the RSS rule is interesting to me – I never thought this could be the problem..

    • luke martin

      In my study, the RSS hardly ever made it. Rare chance actually. Maybe at first when you subscribe but soon they all disappear.

  • Gavin Halse

    This will forever be a cat and mouse game trying to beat the algorithm. The underlying reality is that everyone is weary of unwanted information overload. We can expect to see more of this intelligent filtering in other mail platforms. It is an evolution of the old fashioned spam filter, and no matter how carefully you disguise your message, unsolicited spam is just that. Imagine how this filtering technology will evolve over the next 5 years. The good news is that a strategic approach can beat the system; but be on your toes because the system is evolving and you will find yourself on another treadmill. The other good news is that the algorithms will evolve to accurately distinguish valuable relevant content, this is the key to being heard in the noise.

  • Michael Hyatt

    By the way, I was curious to check my own Gmail folder via the web, since I normally access it in Apple Mail. Look what I found. I wonder if this is even more complicated than the analysis here. Perhaps Google is factoring user behavior in some way.

    • Luke Guy

      Very interesting Michael, the days published seem to be March 28th and Mar 21st. Is this from Smart Passive Income or from another site he has? I looked and these emails are no where to be found.

      • Michael Hyatt

        These were from pat at smartpassiveincome dot com via aweber. I just checked the header.

        • Luke Guy

          I’ll look into it Michael and see if I can find them.

    • Luke Guy

      I got your email today btw Michael!

    • Luke Guy

      And also do they follow the points mentioned:

      Have no more than 1 link in your email.

      Include no pictures.

      Mention the readers name using Merge Tag Tricks with MailChimp orAweber.

      Turn off the Rss Campaign. If you want a higher open count, you must type these emails out by hand.

      Write to the reader like he’s your friend.

      Don’t go spammy like this: Hey!!!WANT TO MAKE MONEY FAST??!?!?!

      Write in Traditional Letter Form.

    • ChangeForge | Ken Stewart

      Michael/Luke, I use the web interface for Gmail. Michael, from my own (non-scientific) observations, I believe you are correct. I have noticed that over time if my reading habits begin to gravitate away from a certain blogger/author, the emails start fading to the promotions or even spam folder. I think there is some categorization based on content and format (and probably sender reputation), but it must have some portion of weighting based on my own preferences.

      BTW, I was able to set certain subjects and senders to appear on a specific tab, much like using a rule. This is of course, personal preference, so I don’t know that I would expect a reader to go through this hassle unless they are highly engaged and loyal.

      Just for what it’s worth from one man’s observations.

  • selva

    This post was simply interesting about how to utilize the landing emails in your primary tab always with effective steps
    Thanking you

  • creativeselva

    HI ,
    This blog is simply interesting about the discovery for making landing new mail with in primary tab of your gmail account .
    Thanking you

  • Michal

    I like emails short, sweet and plain.

    I suppose Michael is right about people using email clients for their gmail inbox. I manage my all mail in Thunderbird and I barely know how the gmail interface looks like!

    • Luke Guy

      I’m like you Mical, plain and short are best. It’s the best way to capture eyes. But third party services will soon follow Google on this filtering tactic, just like Facebook with the news feed. Thanks for commenting!

  • kash2000

    I run a small eCommerce portal, whenever I email to my customers, its either to let them know about the new products, special promotions, discounts or seasonal offers. How can I include only 1 link with this? Would people like text email for ecommerce portal? I thought if they see the product photos, they would be more interested to check it out on the website. Its not only about landing in the primary tab, but the actual visitors coming and converting as well. What’s your take on this Luke & Pat?

  • Antonio

    I’m a Gmail user and I use the native Gmail email client in my browser (I’m Chrome OS centered, so that’s easiest). I will try your tips.

    Thanks a lot for that.
    the guy from

  • Gene Eugenio

    A lot of this drama can be avoided WHEN YOUR MEMBERS SIGN UP to your list. Redirect them to a short video showing them how to drag your emails to their main inbox. This is worth doing because it gives you a competitive advantage over players who don’t bother.

  • Solomon Mwale

    Pat Thank you so much but we are eagerly looking forward to your current income report will it be out. And what are the exact date that you have all these reports done please advise so that we can follow through nicelly and in order.

  • Sudheer Yadav

    i am a gmail user from a long time and gmail is the one of the best mail service and i thinks that gmail is the biiggest mail service in the world. But your article also help me to seo of my blog

  • Rick Healey

    I was half way through this article before I realized it wasn’t written by Pat. I was so confused why Pat would have started a blog called Good article though and great comments to consider.

    • Luke Guy

      That would be me:)

  • Jo Ann Miabella Galvan

    I’m very visual so I like the graphics. So Google isn’t targeting all Email Service Providers and dropping them in the Promo tab? Has anyone measured if the email get drops in promo tab unless the person / business name is in the contacts db?’

    On a tangent. Pat, since you are tied into the LeadPages entity, I thought you’d find this interesting. I’m using the video sales funnel templates to conduct a business jingle contest (to bond and engage with potential members) prior to launch of my new online business, http://www.ToolsOfTheTrade.Co

    Thanks for all your inspiration!

  • Gary Gaspar

    Very good, unfortunately, Pat’s emails are not even in my “updates” tab, but in my “Promotion” which is worse for me.

    it’s weird because I read Pat’s emails and I also emailed him back twice.

    I guess it has to do with email reputation then….

    Anyway, great post!

    • Luke Guy

      I have pretty much opened every email Pat has sent to me since the beginning and I make sure I only get emails I want to open. Could be that Google gave Pat a grace period of so many months before he hit the Promotions Tab (in your situation) based on how many times you opened his emails. It could be that other emails drowned him out and you didn’t open enough of his emails. Gary, thank you so much for this information!

      • Luke Guy

        Michael Hyatt’s situation doesn’t count though. Here’s why, I received a message from him (a few days ago) that didn’t have image headers and it did come through. He sent another with headers and landed in promotion. This was a signal that Google is filtering them and that headers did affect him.

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      That’s not surprising.

  • PeterJ42

    I’ve found a simple way to get into the primary folder and that is personalise the email with the person’s name.

    But before everyone rushes off to do so, a word of caution.
    When I get something in my primary folder which isn’t directly relevant, I spam it or unsubscribe, much more so than if it arrives in the promotions folder.

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      This is what Google warned email marketers about recently.

  • Chris: Blogger

    I was actually looking for it. Thanks for the share.

  • ourbigfatwallet

    I’m currently in the process of making a mailing list for my site so I will definitely need to keep this in mind. No one likes getting junk mail (especially if you already get tons of new emails everyday) so anything to capture a readers attention and provide value would definitely help

  • StefanDo

    I started to use the Tabs in Gmail not so long time ago.

    I started to like them because they simplify what I see – yes, i do follow some boring blogs too :)

    But after all I can confirm the same problem from the user side. Some of the Blogs I am following from a long time are getting in “Promotion” tab and I usually read them everytime something new is published.

    My conclusion is that from USER SIDE – Yes, things change and we are affected. Another thing is if Google Mail is watching our behavior and is going to twink the things.

  • Neil Curtis

    Really interesting/worrying subject. I read somewhere that about 1/4 of all emails that you have given permission to don’t even make it to your email at all. Which is not good. I think the headline and content does play a big part, but if you give someone permission to send you emails they should definitely get through to your inbox.

  • Kaloyan Banev

    No idea to be honest. 3 weeks ago, my newsletter used to land in the 3rd tab, but in the last 2 weeks, it is going into primary one. I haven’t done any change, though my email title is always branded.

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      That’s because this article is not accurate.

  • lucas

    I’ve always used dead-simple emails too and *MOSTLY* skip promo folder. The really challenging thing is 1 image that’s linked gives about 40-50% bump in clickthru totals even though opens goes way down because of promo folder. It’s a really hard call…

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      ? How is that a hard call? Response and actual results are what matters, not assuming everything is fine and dandy if you end up in primary tab.

  • Emeroy

    Just did one test with my email list with no images. About 10% more opens than the previous email.

    I know it’s just one email, but I thought id share the result I got from trying this out.

    • Sam Steiner

      Thanks for sharing that! Thinking of going “no images” myself after reading this.

    • Luke Guy

      Hey! That’s so cool! Glad it’s working for you Emeroy.

      • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

        Sam. That’s not a valid test. Why castrate your emails for no good reason?

  • Rob

    Great stuff!!! Thank you for taking the time to write this

  • Dana Fox

    I’m definitely going to try this and watch my open rate. Being a very visual person though in the design field, I’m not quite sure how a text formatted post would go over with my subscribers who expect nice looking things, but it’s worth a test I think. I honestly had no idea about this Gmail tab thing either since I don’t use Gmail, so thank you for the tips!

  • Casey Ann Hughes

    I am not a sender of mass emails – but I am the recipient of many. I access gmail on chrome and an app on my android phone. I like the tabs a lot, as it allows me to organize my email.. Because I am a political activist, I get LOTS of political emails, all of which I signed up for. But I want them to go to my Promotions Tab and not my Primary tab. I have dragged them to the Promotion tab and answered Yes to future emails hundred of times. They keep coming into my Primary tab. Some respond appropriately, but most political ones do not.This is making me angry. My question to you as the sender of mass emails, is there something they’re doing that causes them to ignore my instructions? How do I overcome these?

    • Sam Steiner

      You could try and use filters to send those e-mails away from your inbox.

  • Alex Reschka

    I can’t get over how GREAT all these comments are as well. just great content everywhere on SPI!


    This is fascinating! I hadn’t thought of this before and will definitely be making some changes to my email campaign!! Thank you for the great advice!!

  • Sud.Lamiran

    want to know: does it matter for Google which one of the ESPs the email sent from?

  • Prince Kapoor

    I don’t think it will be practical to get only one link and no images in mail. I send newsletter to my customers every month and have to add summary of whole month.
    Open rates are decreased and thus traffic too. Still looking for a perfect way to land my mail to primary tab. :/

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      Add the fact that these suggestions are just assumptions, so there’s that reason for ignoring them.

  • Guest


  • Jordan Loud

    Very good advice, thanks. Will certainly help with my business ->

  • zak ryals

    If you put your promotional material in my primary tab I am going to hate you. That is all there is too it. So do not even try.

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      Great point. Google themselves even warned about this.

  • zak ryals

    I am not just going to hate you though, I am going to mark it as spam.

  • Twiford Ministries

    Great information from everyone. My husband and I are a non-profit and our newsletter opens have decreased that last year. Right now it’s about 40% average. We use Constant Contact. I use links, pictures, a header, and feature products. Guess I should consider a plain email. Who knew? Doesn’t mean we’ll give up on the newsletter because we receive comments from people who say they really enjoy reading it. It’s brief but packed with inspirational stuff that is applicable to everyday life.

    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      No need for you to castrate your emails. Consider taking out the image with no real purpose other than branding and use images that really matter.

  • Melissa

    Excellent article. A lot of my subscribers also use Gmail and after I learned about the not using headers and a lot of the stuff mentioned in this article I have sent out a few campaigns in strict plain text with only 1 or 2 links. I rarely used pictures in my campaigns previously and usually never had more than 2 links anyway. I did not notice much of a difference actually. I agree with Michael. I think most people do not access gmail through their web browser. It’s much easier to have the email sent to your email client on the computer or mobile device. I almost NEVER access my email through the browser.

  • Fernando del Real

    People must become more selective in their subscriptions instead of “needing” a tool for classifying messages that will never be read.

  • John James
  • bob

    You guys are all spammers.

  • Marcio Andrey Oliveira


    You’re telling us to use as little images and links as possible an to (preferably) use the text file format.

    My mailing list is composed of arcade owners and players.

    it’s a common practice to show at least 2 images and links to play and download games as well as link to unsubscribe the list.

    I’ve already reduced the amount of images to 1 in order to improve chances of get into inbox.

    Images are expected by the audience of this niche so emails must be HTML.

    So, what can I do? There is any chance for me to improve the chances to get into inbox?


    • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

      You don’t have to do anything this article says. It’s unfounded and just a bunch of guesswork. No need to castrate your emails Marcio.

  • Mohsin

    Hey Patt! Good one and I tried the same. We have got much better open rates and mail do landed in Primary. But one concern which I have seen with TEXT based campaign are the unsubscribes which has somewhere impacted an overall domain reputation. Please suggest how can we ensure lowering the unsubs in case of TEXT based promotional email.

    P.S: I tried to keep the copy of content quite personal as it’s meant to be for that person.

    Let me know the solution for the same.


  • Rob Cooper

    We run a photography website. Tricky not including an image, as the readers are all visual people. We have ONE image in our rss to email campaigns… the featured image… and two links. The title and the button that leads to the post. Hmmm

  • Joel G

    Great share. One question though, because most marketing emails require an unsubscribe footer with a link to opt out how can another link be placed to draw the user to the site?

  • [email protected]

    Is the discussion still on?
    Surprisingly Pat confirmation mail landed in Primary whereas Michael’s landed in Promotions.

  • Breakthrough Email Marketing –

    This article is based completely on assumptions. In my humble opinion, I would not castrate my emails based on this speculation. hth

  • vu0tran

    One thing I’ve found is to switch of Mailchimp. I wrote a blog post analyzing it more in detail below, but what Gmail does when detecting whether or not an email is a promotion is by looking at the email headers. With Mailchimp, you’re unable to change many of these values and its an open book.

  • Jamie Mackintosh

    Thanks for the post – I would love to get some feedback on how to ensure my email hits the primary inbox of gmail users when migrating email platforms.

    The problem:
    I am in the middle of migrating email platforms and warming up the new platform with new IP’s as we speak.

    My problem is, emails sent on the old platform arrive in the primary inbox and emails sent on the new platform arrive in the promotional tab.

    The emails are sent 1 minute part in my test and are identical in content and number of links etc. The first email sent was from the new platform and was the one pushed to the promotional tab.

    So this is a reputation issue affecting which tab the email is categorised in.

    Interested in your thoughts