[Podcast] Episode 017: Breaking down Gmail’s Primary Tab with Chris Lang

Email marketers spend a lot of time optimizing their open rates. Getting subscribers to open emails is almost a form of mad science – one that is predicated on first getting your emails seen.

But that’s easier said than done. Making sure your subscribers see your emails means staying out of the spam folder, and landing in your subscribers’ Primary inbox. And because so many of our subscribers have Gmail accounts, it’s important to be aware of how the various inbox tabs (Primary, Social, Promotions) work.

Like Google’s SEO algorithm changes, there are some aspects worth paying attention to and testing. To discuss Gmail deliverability trends and results from his many tests with clients, I’ve recruited consultant Chris Lang to share his unique 10-point list of ways to get your emails read in Gmail’s Primary inbox.

Now, for many businesses, being in the Promotions tab might be ideal. The Promotions tab is a place where subscribers go to shop and make purchases, so being listed amongst big brands in a place where you can compete for someone’s buying attention might work in your favor. For others, you may be trying to form more of a one-to-one relationship with subscribers, and appearing in the Primary tab is more appropriate for your brand and content.

In this two-part episode, we’ll dive into some of the tactics that Chris recommends for each situation. Here’s what you’ll learn in Part I:

  • Chris’ observations on the Gmail tabs algorithm
  • Chris’ recommendations for what days of the week to send, and what to do with disengaged subscribers
  • Why mobile is becoming increasingly important when considering email engagement
  • The first two elements to consider when aiming for the Primary tab

Listen below:

As you listen to this week’s podcast, I need to share a word of caution: please don’t try to use these tips to manipulate Google. That’s called spam, and AWeber hates spam (like, we really despise it). We pride ourselves in our deliverability and commitment to making the internet a better place, and we want you to do the same.

So I encourage you to use the tips Chris shares to help you understand why some of your messages may end up in Promotions or Primary, so that you can better read your data and optimize your campaigns.

Remember the golden rule: Be transparent, and send valuable content that your subscribers want to read and engage with. And of course, email responsibly. 🙂

As usual, here are a few links referenced in the episode:

Click here to download this episode directly (MP3).

Have a question about email marketing? Leave us a message at aweber.com/podcast.

Be sure to stay tuned for Part II next week!

Friendly Podcast Disclaimer: We like to include this little note on each episode’s post because we provide educational content and frequently interview guests on this podcast. The views and opinions of any podcast guest are their own, and does not necessarily reflect the views of AWeber. Marketing best practices and advice can change based on regulations, trends and market conditions. Therefore, any older episodes may contain information most relevant at the time of publication. We hope you enjoy!


  1. Mariana Maciel

    4/14/2016 1:21 pm

    Awesome Podcast, thanks for sharing Tom!

  2. Tom Tate

    4/14/2016 1:53 pm

    Hi Mariana,

    Thanks so much for listening!


  3. Yangın Kapısı

    4/19/2016 8:43 am

    Email marketing is a superb method. Remarkably proper headings and content is important .

  4. Stephanie Spandet

    4/21/2016 5:59 pm

    It would be nice if my emails would go into Primary or Promotions folders. My customers are reporting that my emails I send through AWeber are going to their spam folders. Why might that be?

  5. Tom Tate

    4/22/2016 8:11 am

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for listening! There are many reasons why an email might end up in spam. The checkpoints on this post do a great job summing up a few ways to avoid hitting the spam folder: https://help.aweber.com/hc/en-us/articles/204032376-Why-Is-My-Message-Going-to-the-SPAM-Folder-

    Might be a great place to start, if you want to take a look. Our team is available to chat via phone or on-line if you wanted to discuss, as well!

    I think it’d be great to have our team put together more content on the top reasons why emails end up in spam, and we can explore this further.



  6. Chris Langq

    4/22/2016 9:37 pm

    Thanks for the great interview Tom! If anyone has questions I am here to answer and help!