The Truth About Gmail Tabs

The Truth About Gmail Tabs
Quinn Jalli • December 12th, 2013

Much has been said and written about Gmail tabs, which rolled out in May of this year. This week we released a study that contradicts many of those reports. While mobile and seasonality play a huge role in the deciphering of this complex story, a few things are clear.

  1. Gmail Tabs Are Impacting Email Performance. Many of the reports concerning Gmail tabs have looked at open rates. While open rates are important, click rate performance is more closely tied to conversions. Accounting for seasonality (August historically experiences a decrease in email metrics when most consumers are on vacation) and comparing Gmail performance to that of Yahoo! and Hotmail, our study found that Gmail click rates have declined, relatively speaking, since the introduction of tabs. Whereas there is traditionally a gap between the click rates of Gmail and Yahoo!, Gmail clicks have fallen to those of Yahoo!. 
  2. Mobile is Key. Our study also analyzed Gmail opens by device. Since the native email applications on smartphones do not have Gmail tabs, it’s logical that if consumers are less likely to look at marketing messages because of the tab feature, they would view more commercial emails on their smartphones where tabs are not a factor. In June and July, about 60% of Gmail opens were on a smartphone focus or tablet. That number increased by 10% in September and October. This increase in mobile views of marketing emails explains why open rates at Gmail didn’t decline, where we noticed a decline in click rates. Consumers are in fact viewing many of the same emails they would have prior to the implementation of tabs, but because consumers are about 35% less likely to click on emails opened on a smartphone than emails opened on a desktop, we are seeing declining click rates. 

So what does all of this mean? Performance of marketing emails will be down when compared to the other domains, but Gmail will remain one of the most responsive email domains. Email marketers will not stop sending to Gmail as it continues to have a higher number of new registrants compared to other ISPs. 

However, marketers do need to revise their email strategies around mobile. Solutions are now needed, more than ever, to optimize email marketing campaigns and create one-click options for consumers. 

Download our full report, Gmail Tabs: An In-depth Analysis to learn more.