GmailEarlier this week Google released the latest version of Gmail, which features a substantial interface overhaul.  The biggest change is that Gmail will now sort your inbox into categorized tabs such as Primary, Social and Promotions.  Many users will likely find the new interface a welcome addition but marketing firms and in-house business promotions are likely to find their effectiveness at an all-time low.

The new interface, which is shared by both Gmail and Google Apps for Business, divides the inbox into four default tabs: a ‘primary’ tab with personal emails; a ‘social’ tab dedicated to Facebook and other social media updates; a ‘promotions’ tab showing corporate and sales emails; and an ‘updates’ tab showing available Android updates.

The reason this will cause alarm for many marketers is that going forward, all sales based emails will be filtered out of the primary inbox of users.  Even if users decide to check their promotions tab, the emails that they see will be competing directly with other promotions and will have little chance of standing out.  Further complicating matters for marketers is the fact that the mobile version of the new Gmail interface removes the additional tabs from the main display entirely, instead hiding them within the sidebar slider.  Given the growth of mobile devices such as smart phones and iPads, a large percentage of users will never see the majority of marketed emails unless they go out of their way to look for them.

With over 400 million active users, Gmail is one of the top five email clients in the world.  Given the high number of users it will be interesting to see how email providers such as Constant Contacts respond to the potential loss of business.

What do you think? Is Gmail’s new tab system a marketing killer or a minor obstacle to overcome?

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department