Every email marketer is concerned with email open rates for the simple fact that if a customer never opens your email, they never see what you’re offering and you lose a potential sale. That’s why there was likely some trepidation amongst marketers when Gmail launched its new tab format in which emails that arrive in a customer’s inbox are categorized into tabs.

Most concerning to email marketers is that with this new format, promotional emails are placed in a tab and kept separate from other emails. Also concerning to them was the latest report from Litmus, an email analytics firm, who found that Gmail open rates decreased by 18 percent in the last three months.

Is the Tabbed Format to Blame?

Not necessarily says Justine Jordan, Litmus’ marketing director. In a recent video, she explained that only about 7.25 percent of the drop in open rates occurred after May 29 when the new format was launched. Secondly, she stated that only about 19 percent of emails are opened in a Gmail account or other account that supports tabs. For instance, many people open their Gmail in Outlook, Apple Mail or on other mobile devices.

In addition, Jordan explains that Gmail open rates have fluctuated between 2.9 percent to 5 percent in the past. Hear more of Jordan’s analysis.


Sophy, Joshua. “Gmail Opens Decrease by 18 Percent, Jury Out on Tabs”. Smallbiztrends.com. 8/21/2013.

Jordan, Justine. “Gmail Opens Drop 18%: Are Tabs to Blame?” Litmus.com. 8/12/2013.