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Gmail Open Rates are down since the Introduction of the New Tab Categories

Gmail Open Rates are down since the Introduction of the New Tab Categories

A Marketing article written by Elle Meech
Since the new Gmail tabs and category labels were introduced earlier this year in July, Google has seen a drop in the email open rates of up to 8%. The Gmail category identifies five new tabs which are broken up into the following: Primary, Social, Promotion, Updates and Forums. The advantages and decisions behind the move to the new tab layout can be viewed here.
I'm sure there are many people out there who are extremely pleased with the new categories and tabs, as all their primary mail is excluded from any social, promotions, updates and forums, and all mail can be deciphered more easily and efficiently than ever before.

What's behind the open rate decrease? 

Gmail has seen over the past two years a constant increase in the number of open rates according to a report done by Litmus. Open rates have been on a steady incline of up to 21%, however, over the past year and specifically in the last three months there has been a large drop of 8% in open rates for Gmail. There is a lot of speculation around whether Gmail tabs are to blame or are there other factors that need to be considered as well?


Depending on the user and mobile device they use, affects the app supported on their phone. Those who use Apple, Outlook and other mobile email apps on their mobile will have the information displayed differently. As Apple mail does not support Gmail but the IOS App does, so depending on the user it will reflect back on the open rates, as some users won't be displayed in the Gmail tabs. Mobile users account for 66% of mail opened on their phone, and depending on the user, this impacts on the statistics.


Outlook is used by over 400 million active users and Microsoft has launched a new Outlook, which could account for the decline in Gmail open rates, as Gmail users may have gone to the new Outlook system.
As a result it may be too soon to tell what the cause of the decline in open rates for Gmail actually is but the new tabs category is a factor along with mobile and Outlook users.