If you use Gmail for email either at home or at work, you might have seen the new tabs format that separates your email automatically into folders based on the content. The new tabs are primary, social, promotional, updates and forums – which all are pretty handy if you get a lot of notification emails and newsletters.

Email marketers, on the other hand, are finding the new tabs as another hurdle to overcome in their quest to get their information in front of customers. Lorraine and Allison talked about the tabs in an episode of More Than a Few Words and what they mean for businesses that use email marketing campaigns.

The tabs are a double-edged sword when it comes to how they affect your marketing campaign. Your newsletter might now be dumped into someone’s promotions tab and they won’t see your email until they choose to go through the tab and clean it out.

While that may seem like a bad thing, it can actually help you. Your customers are looking at your newsletter when they’re ready – they aren’t just skimming it when it hits their inbox and deleting it. They’re opening your email because they want to read it, not just because they’re trying to hit inbox zero.

You might notice your open rates are down due to the new tabs; we did on our newsletter. However, if you look deeper at your reports, you might find that while it’s taking longer for recipients to open your newsletter, the ones who do open your email are engaging with the content. In our case, we’re finding that our open rate is down but our click-through rate is increasing, which indicates we’re still reaching the right people.

Like any change, it’s going to take time getting used to as users figure out how the tabs work best for them so there is no need to panic. Gmail users have the opportunity to turn the tabs off as well and can decide if they want to utilize the system. It’s also worth noting that not everyone uses Gmail, many companies still run their email systems on Outlook, and some are even holdovers with Lotus Notes. So while these changes may seem like a big deal, they aren’t affecting everyone on your email list.

Chances are, you might see some slight changes in how your email is opened and it might take longer to reach your open rates, but unless you see a drastic immediate decrease in open and click-through rates, your email marketing strategy shouldn’t change.

If you’d like to learn more about email strategy, we’re always offering classes to help business owners get the most out of their email marketing efforts.