The Lengths Mass-Mailers Are Going to Stay Out of Gmail's Promotions Tab

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Since Google pushed out its new tabbed email design earlier this summer, organizations that make lots of money off of marketing emails have moved beyond the grumbling phase, and have started trying to get out of that promotions tab, which siphons the money-making messages away from the best inbox real-estate. In the new (entirely optional for now) version of Gmail, the default "Promotions" tab collects all of "your deals, offers, and other promotional emails." That means messages from Seamless, Groupon, and any other peddling entity don't land in the "Primary" tab, where the most important and most opened emails land. While few consumers are worried about that they might not see emails hawking deals and menu items — it's nice of Google to filter out the junk for us — non-profit organizations that raise money for worthy causes by sending out pleas to large But, non-profits have also found their emails relegated to the tab. While some have argued the alarm is overblown, these organizations have started acting. Here's how:

The Clever Email Tactic 

Hoping to catch the eye of people who actually open marketing emails, certain companies have decided to put a plea right in the email, like this message from Seamless to Buzzfeed's Hilary Reinsberg

Groupon and have used similar tactics, hoping to entice the valued customer who bothered to click over to promotions and open the message. But that's just a temporary solution. To get a more permanent fix, these organizations are asking more of these precious eye-balls than just a quick read. 

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Primary Tab Status 

As you can see in that Seamless email it says: "Put us in your primary tab, so that you don't miss out on future discounts." It just takes one click for users to move an organization from "Promotions" to Primary, which is exactly what the vice chair of the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations is suggesting. A simple drag and drop from one tab to the inbox ensures emails from that company always arrive in the right place. It's pretty easy as this Groupon email with instructions shows:

That, of course, assumes people want their Groupon emails in the main inbox spot. 

The Email Reply Campaign

The non-profit Azaaz has asked its readers for a little more than a simple drag and drop. It wrote the following in an email:

Replying now is the simplest way to send a signal to Gmail that you want to receive Avaaz emails. And if we all do, it could show Gmail that Avaaz is valuable, and help ensure that thousands of members who might miss this email to still receive Avaaz alerts, and have a chance to continue to take action with us.

It's unclear if this tactic works or not. But, the idea is that if a lot of people reply to these emails they no longer fall into "promotional messages" but get a higher priority. 

As of now it's not clear that the new Gmail set-up will change click through and open rates for marketing emails. The new Gmail tabs are optional, after-all. But, as users get used to ignoring those other tabs and better managing the emails they don't want, non-profits and businesses alike want to make sure they get into the right folders — before Gmail starts charging for that privilege, just like Facebook

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.