Gmail delivers messages to tabbed inboxes based on complex and changing algorithms that take into account subscriber engagement, message content, and sender information.
These inboxes are: “Primary”, “Social”, and “Promotions”. Marketing and bulk emails often have a higher chance of being delivered to the Promotions tab.
Filtering is done mostly on the individual subscriber level and very little on the sender level, so Intercom doesn’t have much control over getting your emails into the primary inbox. It's mostly up to your customers.
The only 100% effective way to get your emails into the primary inbox is to have a customer add you to their contacts, or move your emails to their primary tab. Once they move an email to the primary tab, they will always receive your emails there.
That being said, we have a couple of tips if you are seeing your emails end up in the promotions tab more often than not.
Embrace the promotions tab
Gmail’s tabs are not new - your customers know how they work and often go to that tab for promotions they are interested in. The promotions tab can actually work in your favour. According to A study of three million Gmail users, the tabs improved deliverability, increased open rates, and decreased spam complaints.
Just remember, if you always send your customers information they want, they’ll open your messages no matter which tab they’re in.
Balance HTML, Images and Text
Keep the balance of HTML to text similar. There is not an exact formula that works effectively under all circumstances but the Intercom default templates, especially Plain and Personal work best here.
Gmail can treat images as a sign of a promotional or spam message. You will increase your readership by having fewer images, or none at all. Many email clients also have images turned off by default, so an image-heavy email may not get a good subscriber response.
Subscriber awareness is important. Some key questions to ask yourself are
Is it clear who the message is coming from?
Are you sending from your own domain?
Could you be sending your users too many messages?
Do you have a thoughtful sending schedule?
Both email service providers (like Gmail), and your customers appreciate predictability (e.g. always receiving newsletters from @intercom.io at 3pm on a Monday). Steady and consistent sending is the way to go.
We also encourage you to make sure that you only contact engaged customers. Read more about creating a segment of engaged customers in this article: Segment out your active users for messaging.
All of this will drive interaction with your messages and increase the likelihood of messages going to the primary inbox.
Personalise your message
Greeting your customers by name is just one way to create a more engaging interaction.
Limit links and promotions in your message
This one might seem a little counterintuitive, but a good approach to keep from looking like a promotion is to include a single, clear call to action, and fewer distracting options like RSS feeds, or unrelated up-sells. Keep it short and simple like talking to a friend.