Gmail Promotions blog imagePicture Pinterest. Now picture the Gmail Promotions tab. Now picture the Gmail Promotions tab as Pinterest-like. Because that’s what’s new in the world of email marketing.

Gmail has introduced a shockingly new treatment of the emails that appear under the Promotions tab, and it’s all about images. Remember when your images had to have alt text to still be relevant even with image blocking on? Now we’re at the other end of the extreme, from no images to all images.

The new Gmail Promotions tab highlights images over subject lines and preview text, and in a grid format, not a list one. It is radically different from anything we’ve seen in email before, and you need to be ready for it.

How it works for the user
At the click of a button, users can switch between the list and the grid format. That’s all they need to do. At this point, the new format is being used only by those who request it , and it’s too early to know if Gmail will do a full implementation of this approach. But given the popularity of Pinterest and the ever-increasing visual quality of digital marketing, chances are good that the grid format will become standard.



How it works for the marketer
To enable your email to show up correctly in the grid format, your HTML will need to include special code (schemas) which Google has made accessible to developers. If your internal team lacks the time or knowledge to change your HTML template, call on ClickMail to help.

Your image can be in GIF, JPEG or PNG format, but the GIF will appear as a static image only.

(Warning: If you do not include a featured image for use in the grid format, Gmail will choose it for you! While this sometimes might work in your favor, it could also be disastrous, as well as a wasted opportunity. If a user is looking at the grid format, you want to be maximizing that opportunity to get their attention and click-through. So why leave your image to chance?)

Your From name and subject line are also included as text below the image, so they still matter and character counts still count. Your logo (a.k.a. sender image) also appears if you have an associated Google+ account. Also note that this new format increases your inbox competition if it rolls out because Gmail includes ads mixed in with the email images, with ads only subtly noted by text in the upper left corner of an image.

The new grid format imposes several new design considerations on email marketers, which we won’t go into here, but that will require your attention and consideration if you decide to tackle your HTML template internally. On the other hand, if you’d like ClickMail to handle it for you, we’ll naturally take care of the nitpicky details on your behalf.

Know your audience now
Gmail users make up about 10% globally. Obviously the percentage is bigger for some marketers and smaller for others, so know your audience to know the impact the new Promotions grid will have if Gmail decides to implement it across the board. Now would be a good time to do that email analysis, so you’ll know how to prioritize the new format if it becomes standard.

Call on ClickMail
To be ready for a full rollout of the new Gmail Promotions grid format, call on ClickMail to discuss what might need to happen to ensure your email template will be both effective and successful given the new playing field and increased competition. 

Published On: April 11th, 2014Categories: Miscellaneous email marketing topics

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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