Get Your Email Out of Gmail's Promotions Tab



  1. Be as personal in your e-mail as you can as if you are writing to a good friend that you haven’t seen for a while.
  2. Use as little to none complex HTML and images that doesn’t bring any value to the recipient.
  3. Make sure your e-mail brings as much informational or emotional value to the recipient as possible!


Gmail’s promotions tab might be the biggest dead zone for any kind of email. Pretty much if your email gets to this tab, the only way it will be read is if the recipient will consciously go to this tab to see some promotions.

Gmail's promotion tab

Now I don’t say that it is not possible that your e-mail will be read if it’s in this tab, but chances are very slim. There are several reasons though to want to be in this tab, e.g. your e-mail is in fact a promotion and you are totally fine for it to be in Gmail’s promotions tab. Other then that, your email will be dead.

According to MailChimp Email Marketing Benchmarks, the average open rate of e-mails in general is <22%. Of course, this depends on a lot of things, but if you fall in this percentage, then getting into promotions tab (if that’s not your intention) will make it even worse.


How do I get out of Gmail’s Promotions Tab and get to the Primary Tab?

Luckily, you don’t have to worry much, since I already did lots of tests and found out what exactly puts you in this tab and what changes you need to do to get out of there.

To begin with, here is a Random promotional email HTML template I found by Googling. This one is perfect as it is delivered straight to the Promotions tab: (source if you’re interested)

How email looked before

I set the title for this email to be “Designmodo Spring Deal” (as mentioned in the email itself) and as you can see, Gmail did the job to put this email out for good.

Promotions tab test 1

It is a common thing to Google for some HTML email templates, find the one you would like to use and then find out it is going straight to “Promotions tab”… Not exactly what you expected…



Just why? Why me?

Here are the 3 main reasons for Google algorithms to put your email to Gmail’s promotions tab:

  1. Heavy HTML usage
  2. Poor user engagement
  3. Links and images that make your email look promotional.


You are probably thinking that this is the end and there is no way out, but here is what I did to this exact email to turn it around and get it into the primary tab:

Email after changes

Email that gets to the primary tab

How it looks on Gmail

How it looks on Gmail




Now as you can see, we had to change a lot of things. Basically, with content from the original email, there is no way you will get your email out of Gmail’s promotions tab.

It is a straightforward sales promotion!

Having in mind the 3 key factors that Google algorithms check before moving your e-mail to “Promotions” tab and understanding that each email is different and might need different approaches, here are tips and tricks I used to fix this email that you could use yourself to fix yours:


1. Bring value to the recipient

This is the KEY factor, you have to have a mindset that your e-mail has to bring as much value for the recipient as possible. Either it’s emotional or informational, you have to put the recipient and not your company in front of everything.


2. Use as little HTML email as possible

That’s right! Check the before and after email, you’ll see that to begin with, it was a fully locked & loaded HTML template that is publicly available in many pages and that Google could easily trace. Avoid that at all costs and try to make the template as minimal as possible.To fix it, I had to remove as much unnecessary HTML content as possible.


3. Include little to none images

Remove as much or if possible ALL images from your e-mail. Any image, especially that is promotional will make it impossible for you to get out of the Gmail’s Promotions Tab!
As you can see, I had to remove every image that doesn’t bring any value to the user for this to work, that included promotional background image, social network images and even the logo (it might be, that social images and logo was heavily used in many promotional campaigns, therefore, Google already recognize them).

Always double check if images you use are unique and not heavily used in marketing campaigns.


4. Be as personal as possible

Imagine that this next email you’re about to send is for your good friend, that you haven’t talked with for a while. Don’t try to sell anything just show that you care and want to see what’s good. The more personal your e-mail will be, the better.As in the example email, I was able to be personal by saying how much James (imaginary recipient) cares to us but at the same time, offer something that he might be interested in.


5. Be smart with your subject line

Try to avoid spammed subject lines and words that associates with promotions and sales. “Desigmodo Spring Deal” immediately tells us that there is a promotion inside, I had to use more personal subject as if I was was sending this to my friend.In addition, here is a list of words and phrases that you should avoid using throughout your e-mail:


6. Check your links!

Make sure you don’t have links to promotions or sales or if you do, use short or masked urls so it wouldn’t be obvious that it links to a promotion (avoid: /sale, /shop /promo etc.).


7. Use production e-mail sending settings to test, before sending actual emails

Believe it or not, but if you use “test e-mail” option before starting your marketing campaign (MailChimp, Mailerlite or whatever other provider), you may not be fully testing it out. Throughout my tests I found out that some providers that offer this feature often alters your subject line (e.g. adds [test] or test in it) and also use different mail server that has word “test” in the domain.This can often make your email appear in the Gmail’s primary tab, but after sending production emails, they can end up in the promotions tab.




All in all, you have to be creative with you e-mails and don’t expect to have great results if you won’t put in the effort.

If you had different experiences or troubles trying to get your e-mails to primary tab, share it in the comments section or contact me directly – I would love to hear about it!

Comment below what you would like me to post about next!

Stay classy dev nation!

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