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. Marketers these days are looking at this as one of the most measurable marketing channels. It has helped in the growth of businesses who have a well-personalized email marketing strategy and especially for those whose emails to go to Gmail primary folder.

Did you ever wonder what is the Gmail inbox classification and why is it a matter of concern really? The Gmail has essentially five tabs – Primary, Promotions, Social Messages, Forum, and Updates, which are the most commonly used.

Let’s consider a pain point we’ve come across many marketers mentioning. It could be anything – their emails hitting the promotions tab, bad open rate, high bounce rate etc. Imagine, you have curated a skyrocketing strategy but you fail in getting the right open rate!
Uh-oh! Nobody’s seeing what you’re trying to convey in the email!

This is because the email marketing trends are changing quickly with an explosion in the volume of emails being sent, and Gmail’s smart algorithms filter out automated emails from Gmail primary tab. With your emails hitting the Gmail promotion tab irrespective of the awesome content, you’ll see very low open rates. If the emails go to the Gmail’s primary folder, there’s a higher chance the user will get a phone notification and your email won’t go silent like any other promotional email.

We want to write this blog-post keeping in mind all the questions an email marketer can have!

  1. What are the factors which decide where an email goes?
  2. Why are my emails going to the promotions tab
  3. My open rates are becoming worse. What can I do to land the email in the primary tab?

Don’t worry, we’re there to help you out! Here we present actionable steps on how to land 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 has 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 transactional your marketing messages as much as possible.

Action tipHow to transactional 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.
  • Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to increase marketing leads cost effectively. So if you have an ebook campaign, you can send the lead details directly to Gmail by connecting it with and the ebook reaches the user’s Gmail primary folder.

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 is 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.

You should also take care to not mention or avoid the usage of Spam Trigger Keywords. These Spam Trigger Keywords are those keywords which are considered as spam under email marketing like Free money, Free offer, Get Paid, etc. You can refer to this list for more such keywords which need to be avoided.

3. Personalize Everything

We all know how important it is to send our prospects a personalized email, but there’s more to it. A study mentions, “deep personalization” can drive as much as 17% more revenue from email campaigns. 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 the 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, for example, a SurveyMonkey form on your website, you want to send an automated email via MailChimp 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.

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.

Not to forget, testing all your email campaigns for the deliverability, security check, quality, and the Gmail placement are very necessary. You can A/B test to understand which elements are truly affecting where you email is landing up in the Gmail.

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. I hope the above tweaks can be helpful to improve your RoI on email marketing and help build a personalized relationship with customers.

Do you know other cool tips on how to make emails go to the primary tab and make email marketing better? Share them with us in the comments section below!

About the Author: Ashok Gudibandla