Optimizing Your Campaign for Gmail

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With over 400 million users worldwide, there’s a pretty big chance many of the subscribers on your email list are reading your newsletters in Gmail.

Just like it’s a good idea to optimize your emails for people reading them on mobile devices, optimizing your emails for specific clients can help you stand out in the inbox. Readable emails that display the way you design them makes your marketing much more effective.

With the new tabs in Gmail inboxes, it’s more important than ever to make your emails attractive. Let’s talk about how to tailor your emails to make a better experience for those subscribers.

Finding Out Who’s on Gmail

Before you start optimizing your campaign, you need to know if your Gmail subscribers are in the majority. It’s easy to find that out.

Go to your recent broadcasts in your AWeber account and open the most recent message you sent. This brings up the analytics for that message. Click on the “Domains” tab to view a pie chart breakdown of the web domains your subscribers are using:

domain percents

Are a significant percentage of your subscribers using Gmail? Then it’s time to optimize your campaign for those subscribers.

Creating Gmail-Friendly Emails

Gmail has some special features you can easily take advantage of to get your emails delivered to the inbox and opened more frequently.

Inbox Tabs

Gmail’s new inbox tabs automatically organize users’ inboxes into categories each Gmail user chooses from a selection of five: Primary, Updates, Social, Promotions and Forums. Emails are sorted into those categories based on keywords and past interactions.

According to feedback from some of our readers, subscribers who read your emails regularly may see them under their Primary tab, which loads by default. Otherwise, your emails likely land under “Updates” or “Promotions” and may be missed if your subscribers ignore those categories.

What to do about it? Of course, the obvious answer is to create emails people want to read. But busy or distracted subscribers still may not bother to look around for your messages, so here’s another suggestion: On your thank-you page (where new subscribers land after filling out your web form), add a note to Gmail subscribers to check each tab for your confirmation email, then drag it to a tab they check regularly so they’ll see all emails they’ve requested from you. (Much easier, actually, than adding you to their address books!)


One more feature to consider: how Gmail previews messages. As demonstrated in an earlier post, Gmail displays a “snippet” of text following the subject line to preview the first few words of the message body.

Many marketers overlook this golden opportunity to elicit an open, allowing their standard preheader text to be the first message preview a subscriber encounters:

Not very enticing, is it? Compare to this example from that uses an extra headline to tease the message content for more opens:

Check out this post for more ways to use snippet-effective previews.


Rapportive is an app that connects with Gmail and displays social media information about your Gmail contacts. Rapportive also integrates with your AWeber account to show which of your mailing lists your contacts are subscribed to.

When integrated with AWeber, Rapportive lets you see which mailing list a particular contact is on, whether they’ve unsubscribed, how long they’ve been subscribed for and the last message they received from you.

For marketers and business owners who have some overlap between their professional and personal communications, Rapportive is a helpful tool for painting a fuller picture of your subscribers as you communicate.

How Many of Your Subscribers Use Gmail?

Will you optimize your campaign in light of the recent news? Or is your campaign already improved for Gmail? Have you seen better results using these tools and techniques?


  1. John Gibb

    8/13/2013 9:20 am

    hi Rebekah

    So we can only find the percentage of Gmail users onto a list by checking the latest broadcast message, that’s what I understand, isn’t it?

    I have a video presentation that briefly explains what G-mail users need to do in order to get my emails and sort everything smoothly; it’s on the thank-you page.

    I just recently made these changes and have nothing to report yet. I’m just testing, but thank you for sharing some value-driven tips. It’s better to prepare than feel sorry, is it?

  2. Sergio Felix

    8/13/2013 2:35 pm

    Well my open rates went down the drain after the Gmail update, can’t see how this could be anyone’s fault apart from Gmail itself but oh well.

    I have a 62% base of Gmail users so that’s a really big chunk of the pie.

    Will implement the tip about the alert on the Thank You page, thanks!

  3. Mike C Smith

    8/13/2013 6:09 pm

    I make a point of opening aweber e-mails as I always see something new and really worthwhile. I’ll look at this very carefully plus I’m a fan of gmail.
    thank you again for the info

  4. Jay

    8/14/2013 1:34 pm

    To see the stats, the article says “Go to your recent broadcasts in your AWeber account and open the most recent message you sent.”

    I want to see stats for Follow-ups but cannot find how to do that.

    Can this be done only for Broadcasts?

  5. Monica Salazar

    8/14/2013 1:48 pm

    After the Gmail tabs change I’ve experienced similar response from my subscribers. As a user, I’ve noticed I tend to read more emails from lists than before. Now that they arrive to a different place, they can stay longer in my inbox until I decide to read them. In the past, I’d delete them immediately if I didn’t have time to check them.

    I plan to make a video with instructions for subscribers, but I’m not in a rush to do so.

    The snippets opportunity, I recently started considering this in every email. Makes lots of sense.

    Thanks for the great info and service!

  6. Randall Magwood

    8/14/2013 8:50 pm

    Even though i still get a fair amount of sales everyday, i still am looking for ways to increase sales. I’ve just tried the snippets idea and have already see my open rate increase by about 20% for gmail subscribers. Thanks.

  7. Nick Ortiz

    8/15/2013 7:30 am

    Google is making things really difficult for users and marketers. As a gmail user, I’ve moved several emails from the “Promotions” tab to the “Inbox”, only to have subsequent messages from the merchant still show up in Promotions. I was hoping that all future messages would go straight to the Inbox. Frustrating. Now we hear that Google says you have no expectation of privacy when using gmail. Looks like I will not be using them any more.

    In any event, thanks for the email from the marketer’s point of view. The Promotions tab has really limited open rates.

  8. khuji oluwadare

    8/16/2013 7:30 am

    Hi Rebekah,

    Detailed, concise, precise and informative; that’s the eulogy this post deserves.

    Well, I use Gmail, but to be honest with you, I am not really fascinated by their new improved Inbox look. To me, it makes everything looks clumsy and confusing.

    From the marketing perspective, brand loyalty and sales impact, it is quite good, most especially if you can configure it to be used on Microsoft outlook.

  9. NGTP

    12/28/2013 5:04 am

    I always find new and really worthwhile information on Aweber. Interesting article!