Katie Ricks

Gmail Tabs: Pros and Cons

The range of reactions to the rollout of the new Gmail tabs layout reminded me of the Argument Clinic scene by Monty Python:

But if you’re not a Gmail user, here’s the scoop: Google rolled out a new “tabs” layout where your inbox is automatically sorted into 1 – 5 separate categories: primary, promotions, social, updates and forums. The idea here is to segment your new emails into a more manageable beast.

In one corner, marketing professionals yelled loudly about how this would affect their email marketing campaigns. In another, albeit strange, corner of the internet, one blogger complained that the new filtering system would cause him “loneliness.” Elsewhere, dutiful Google fan-boys-and-girls peppered blog comment threads with their staunch support for the new layout.

Gmail tabs image

OK, we know that changes to user interfaces are bound to elicit a landslide of criticisms (just recall the News Feed changes on Facebook if you need a reminder) and there are definitely some valid complaints out there- but it’s not all bad, folks! Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Gmail layout:

  • Pro: Hallelujah! I don’t want to cry when I open up my email anymore. My emails are sorted for me so that I see the most important stuff at a glance without wading through a million other spammy messages. Facebook notifications, you are banished to the social tab. New Twitter followers, I love ya, and now I can see you all in once place! Groupon offers? Yes, please… in the promotions tab. Email from Grandpa? Smack dab in front of me in the primary tab. Zen.
  • Pro: Google is constantly striving to improve the user experience. They comb through an inconceivably large mountain of user data that would make anyone’s head spin. Their big data analysis led them to this decision, and I think they nailed it here. For those of us who like a more organized inbox via the segmentation, it’s a home run. And if you don’t like it, you can go back to the ol’ faithful layout in just a few clicks.
  • Pro/Con: If your business uses email marketing, you might be afraid that people will just ignore your emails after they get lumped into the promotions tab. OK, yeah. Fair complaint. But don’t forget that people receiving your emails opted in to receive them in the first place, and chances are they still want to see what you’ve got to offer. And the people who do look are likely to be more engaged and interested anyway. Silver lining!
  • Con: My biggest gripe with Google is this: they’re now going to inject ads that look like emails into your promotions tab. Betrayal might be a strong word to use here, but the feeling is close to that.

If you’re not in love, then break up with the new layout and switch back. If you want to give love a chance, you’ll have to put up with some of Gmail’s annoying habits.

Ultimately, we know that change is inevitable. The world stands still for no one, so as Gmail users and marketing professionals we might as well embrace the change and have an open mind about how to make the best of a mixed bag.

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