Email in Gmail primary folder

5 Tips to Land your Marketing Emails in Gmail’s Primary Folder

Email is still a preferred marketing channel for most of us as it offers a great ROI compared to other channels. But this is changing quickly with an explosion in the volume of emails being sent, and Gmail’s increasingly smart algorithms that filter out automated emails from Gmail primary tab.

Here we present actionable steps that give you a great chance of landing your emails in Gmail’s Primary folder, and standing out from the crowd.

1. Avoid Email Blasts

As marketers, most of us are used to maintaining subscriber lists and blasting emails to the entire list. Gmail is extremely sensitive to email blasts. It quickly tags them as promotional email or spam. Some email marketing software have features that allow for the sending of emails in smaller bursts rather than all at once, but this is still not good enough.

The alternative is to trigger individual emails to each member of your audience separately. For example, when they perform an action like subscribing to a newsletter, login to your app, or make a purchase.

I know what you’re thinking — this is transactional email – and not marketing email. Right – that’s precisely the point. Try to transactionalise your marketing messages as much as possible.

Action tipHow to transactionalize marketing emails with

You can setup trigger-action based automated emails for all possible customer events that happen in your marketing, sales or other apps. If you need to send a series of drip emails, you can set up your entire sequence of emails with a delay between them.

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2. Send Plain Text Emails

This is important. There is no way your beautifully-designed HTML email can land in Gmail’s Primary folder. Based on your email source code, Gmail determines if it is sent by a human, or automated. Your email code should appear as if you actually typed it in an email client and not designed in an email marketing tool.

A great way to do this is to by sending plain text emails, or at least ‘plain HTML’ emails. Plain HTML are technically HTML (mime type), but the content is primarily text. No images, CSS and minimal links.

It’s important to keep the links to a bare minimum. Ideally not more than one.


Email in primary folder of gmail
An example ‘plain HTML’ email. This didn’t make it to Primary folder though.

3. Personalize Everything

Go beyond “Hi {{name}}”. Personalize your email content as much as possible. This will not only help in Gmail not filtering your email but also in improved open and click rates.

Some tips for more personalization.

  • Add recipient name and any contextual data to subject line
  • Add content to email body that is unique to the recipient. If you are sending a “transactional marketing” email, try adding information relevant to the transaction in the email.

This way, each email that Gmail sees will have a fair amount of difference in content and hence it is less likely to be classified as promotional email.

Action tip: How to send personalized transactional emails using

For example, let’s say when someone fills in an inquiry form on your website, you want to send an automated email after 5 mins. allows you to use the data filled in the form as drag-drop merge fields to be used in the email content.

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4. Get into the Addressbook

Most subscribers may not do this, but it’s worth adding a message to your email footer asking them to do either of the two things.

a) Add your email to their address book from the email menu option in Gmail – this will automatically put all your subsequent emails in the Primary folder

b) Move the email manually to Primary folder – when they do this, Gmail prompts them if all subsequent emails from the sender should be automatically moved to the Primary tab.

5. Most important – Send Emails via Your Gmail Account

This could be the hardest thing to do but it works like a charm.

One option here is to use mail merge with Gmail and Google docs. But this way, you can only send a maximum of 500 emails a day.

The other option is to use Gmail’s API – which allows sending high volume from your Gmail account (over 6K an hour). Unfortunately, there are no email marketing services that I know of, that make use of this. They send emails via email gateway services (like SendGrid or Mandrill) which can deliver emails with high reliability – but have very little chance of landing in Gmail’s Primary tab.

Sending via Gmail will also help in making the email appear non-robotic. Typically when you send emails from an email marketing software, with your email address as the From address, Gmail shows a ‘via’ source beside the sender’s email.

Gmail sender via

This doesn’t happen when emails are sent via Gmail API – and hence, it appears more personalized.

Action tip: How to send automated emails via Gmail using

It’s straightforward. Add your Gmail account as an App and you can use it in an automation Bot to send an email.

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Email marketing is increasingly becoming noisy. The key to getting results is to stand out from the crowd by being very relevant, timely and personal in your communication.