Gmail tabbed inboxGoogle’s new tabbed email inbox began rolling out to Gmail users in July. As you would expect, it has caused something of an uproar in the email marketing community, not least because of the presence of a ‘Promotional’ tab which provides a home for commercial emails.

Some experts have denounced Google’s latest invention as one which is clearly going to unfairly hurt those companies sending genuine marketing messages, but reports form Return Path suggest a far more positive side to tabbed email browsing. In Gmail tabs’ first week, Return Path found that highly engaged consumers read more emails after the roll out. It was only by a little – just one percentage point – but it does appear to prove one thing, that tabbed browsing actually aids those people who are already looking to engage with and buy because of marketing emails.

When people are ready to shop, they need a quick route to the latest offers and links to complete their transaction. If they use the Gmail web client, the ‘Promotional’ tab will be their first port of call, sifting the emails they want to see neatly from the tidal wave of social media updates and spammy messages.

Google does have it’s users at heart, but its clear the search giant isn’t trying to give all email marketers the cold shoulder. They are genuinely trying to make the deliverability experience for the latter easier. A change they made to their spamming algorithm last year is a case in point. The modification aimed to take consumer engagement into account by pushing emails which users have ignored consistently into the spam folder.

Above everything, one important fact remains when it comes to Gmail’s tabs: Google’s silence. They are yet to tell us just how far the new feature has penetrated into its user base. This might be telling, and with 48% of emails now being opened on mobile devices, and more people turning away from web clients, the true effect of tabs on email marketing isn’t likely to be as devastating as some would have us believe.