Lyris Connections Blog

Promotional Email in Gmail is About to Change – Welcome to Gmail Grid View

Apr 02, 2014 by

For as long as I can remember, every single email client has displayed subject lines in exactly the same way. But this week, that has started to change. Gmail, continuing to rampantly innovate the experience that its users have with email, are trying something new. And this time, it’s with subject lines.

This is how emails look in the promotions tab in Gmail, usually:

Gmail promotional tab

And this is how emails look now, with the all-new Gmail Grid View:

Gmail Grid View

Does this affect all Gmail users?

No. It’s currently a field trial, which means if you ask for it, you’ll likely be granted access to it immediately. You can access the field trial here. Sign up – it’s awesome. 

When will it be rolled out to all Gmail users?

This is unclear, and while we have no official word from Gmail on a release date, we think the field trial will be well-received and likely go live for all Gmail users within six months or so. Therefore, ignore this at your peril.

How do you design for Gmail Grid View?

Gmail Grid View tool

Google Developers have created a thorough guide as to how you can do this on their website hereLitmus, our partner for all things related to rendering, has also created a tool to build the code snippet for you. You can access the tool here. Both resources are free and easy to use.

What else should I consider?

It’s possible that you will experience a fluctuation in Gmail open rates as Grid View starts to be tested by more users. While we think that open rate is an interesting metric to monitor, you should not use this as a KPI but more of an indicator. Many have been referring to open rate as a “retired metric.” You can read more about that from our friends at Return Path here.

What does this mean for split testing subject lines?

It’s about to get a lot more visual and a lot more fun. Not only can you segment your Gmail subscribers and split test subject lines, but you can now split test the different images you use in Grid View, too!

Of course, the subject line copy is still very important and arguably still the primary content that will get people to open your emails, but this new visual element will significantly impact subscriber behavior. Include this in your testing strategy starting today.

What do I tell my team / boss / clients about Grid View?

This blog covers all of the key points that you need to consider as an email marketer. We are expecting some very big changes from most of the major email clients this year, so this change from Gmail is just one of many that email marketers will need to consider. As with absolutely everything, this is the slowest rate of change that you will ever experience again, and that includes email client technology.

If you need any further information or would like to discuss this in person, just leave a comment below or email me ( and I will personally respond. 


Philip Storey

About the Author: Philip Storey

Philip Storey is Global Head of Strategic Services at Lyris and has been specializing in email for a decade, working with brands to create engaging and response-triggering email for acquisition and retention strategies that drive high return on investment. He is also a trainer, speaker, and writer for several industry blogs such as Econsultancy and the IAB.

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