Priority inbox is a ranking system for webmail clients to organise emails in order of importance. Gmail’s priority inbox has been available since August, 2012 and when enabled, it takes note of which emails frequently get read, replied to and who they’ve been sent by. Frequently read and replied emails get put right at the top of the inbox. Everything else gets shifted down, especially emails that are deleted without being read.

How does priority inbox work?

It’s based on behaviour in the inbox but Gmail’s filters and labels lets recipients train their inbox by marking emails and addresses as ‘Always important’ so it recognizes what to do with incoming mail.

How does it affect marketing and promotional emails?

Because the algorithm ranks emails on engagement (open, click and response rates), unopened emails and those deleted without being read don’t get high-inbox placement. The more these marketing messages go unnoticed, the less priority they get given.

How to optimise inbox placement

Email marketers can work with priority inbox by ramping up subscriber engagement, which leads to better open/click rates and higher inbox placement.

  • Emails should fulfill a content need and provide valuable solutions to consumers and subscribers.
  • Send promotional emails to a select group of people that want to receive it, instead of anyone and everyone.
  • Content in the email should closely match the expectation set by the subject line; don’t be misleading.