8 Steps to Conquer Gmail’s New Visual Promo Tab

It didn’t take us long to sign-up and test Gmail’s new game-changing feature for email marketing. And Spoiler Alert: It’s amazingly easy to do, especially in Engagement Cloud! Tom Corbett, our Head of Best Practice explains how to implement it all.

Early this week, Gmail announced they were trialing a new functionality for their promotions tab for desktop. From the get-go, our entire Dev team signed up to kick the tires. We were lucky enough to get early access to do some testing so we can allow you to implement this efficiently and effectively, should Gmail decide they want to roll this out widely.

1. Understand the Grid View Structure

Understanding gmails new grid view structure

The grid view will display 4 main pieces of information to recipients about the email. Two of these – sender image and feature image –  are of course visual, your main assets for brand recognition. These can also be used as calls to action, and engagement with the email.

2. Optimize your Text

The sender name should be less than 20 characters; the subject line should be less than 75 characters to avoid it being truncated within this feature.

3. Set up your ‘Featured Image’

The feature image creative needs to be at least 580px by 400px. Bigger images will be resized to satisfy at least one of those dimensions, so your image might get cropped if not optimized. You could just allow the Gmail algorithm to decide on the best image but again, it could pick something that could get cropped


<script type="application/ld+json">
   "@context": "http://schema.org",
   "@type": "EmailMessage",
   "publisher": {
    "@type": "Organization",
    "name": "Companyname",
    "url": "https://www.companysite.com",
    "url/googlePlus": "https://plus.google.com/+yourplusname"
  "about": {
  "@type": "Offer",
"image": "http://www.example.com/product_image.jpg"

The markup code simply needs to be dropped into the header of your email’s source code. In Engagement Cloud, you can do this in ‘View Source Code’ under ‘Properties’. The text in red is what you tailor to your company.

  • “name” – refers to content in the sender name field
  • “url” – a direct link back to your website
  • “url/googlePlus” – a link to your Google+ page, which scrapes the sender image
  • “image” – where the featured image you want to use is hosted

In context, the first two fields – your brand information – are then displayed in the right rail in Gmail’s interface, along with a follow button.

Gmail's interface

Your featured image must be on an open host – either within the dotdigital environment, or something like WordPress.

This feature is fantastic, as it allows you to quickly build up your Google+ community – something that a lot of brands have been finding hard to do. A strong and engaged Google+ presence works wonders for your SEO, but we also have heard of some exciting things in the pipeline that will allow you to organically segment your social audiences via circles.

4. Setup your Sender Image Setup

In short, if you want a sender image, you are going to have to be on Google+ – your page will need to be verified with the website domain that you’re sending your emails from. Google has this to say on the subject:

“the sender’s domain for the email must match that of the verified website. If your website is verified as http://www.example.com, the email must be sent from the @example.com domain. If you send email from a subdomain of your verified domain (such as @xyz.example.com), we’ll match it to your page unless there’s a different Google+ page associated with that address.”

Verifying your domain is very straightforward – you can only verify one domain per company on Google+. If you’re unsure if your dotdigital Send domain is set up under your Mainsite domain, get in touch with your account manager.

5. Understand the Fallbacks

Understand the fallbacks of gmails new visual promo

If your image is too small, or can’t be found by Gmail automatically, your email ‘panel’ will look like this. It will pull the header text or alt text for the featured image, your ‘from’ field as the sender, and keep the subject line the same. The sender image, if undefined, will take the first letter of your ‘from’ field.

Gmails email panel when images are too small or can't be found

6. Additional Features

(Okay, it’s not a step, per sé) So far we’ve seen the following on the new layout:

  • Once the email is read, the card is greyed-out
  • The trash-can icon in the card’s top corner allows for a very quick ‘bin’ action
  • Additional actions (sorting, move to folder, etc) can be accessed from a mouse-over of the top-right of the card

Gmail New Visual Promo Tab Additional features

7. Get your customers to sign up and adopt the new trial

This feature layout can only be viewed if you’ve signed up for the trial. It might be worth trying to get your customer-base to adopt. Create a filter in in your address book for Gmail users; send them a targeted email inviting them to sign up.

From a customers’ perspective, it’s simply a more beautiful way to look forward to offers from you, and a quicker way to consume your content.

8. Test, test and test again

Testing is the cornerstone of any digital strategy. At dotdigital we will continue to test and release any updates and additional findings as this feature develops. The possibilities are endless – wizard tools, dynamic content and segmentation may take on a completely new dimension!

A nod to…AOL?

I believe a special shout out to AOL in is order for this development. Back in 2012 they released ALTO, which is a pretty awesome client for sorting emails, that sits on top of all major email clients. The similarities with Gmail’s new grid view are very similar – but don’t sue me for saying so!

ALTO | Gmail's new grid view

Only time will tell to see how successful this change is for Gmail. But people need to remember, Email was the original Social Media, and Google may just have sparked its renaissance.

Got it mastered? Check out Our creative tips for maximising your inbox potential! If you’re having trouble implementing this, get in touch with us via support@dotdigital.com, Twitter via @dotdigital or reach out to us in the comments!

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