IMGE Study: Did Gmail Send Republican Emails to Spam in 2022?
November 2022 | by Megan Holcombe, Conner Downard
Originally published April 2019. Last updated July 2022.
With over 1 billion active users, Gmail is an email service provider that marketers cannot afford to ignore when it comes to inbox placement.
But Gmail’s filter is notorious for being among the strictest out there. If you haven’t considered the need to improve Gmail deliverability, it’s time to acknowledge that you’re probably missing out on critical engagement opportunities with a significant chunk of your audience. Gmail is widely used, and if you aren’t targeting it with specific solutions, it’s going to affect your bottom line.
So what is a marketer to do? The IMGE team has you covered. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to improve Gmail deliverability.
Gmail’s filters are strict, but there is a proven way to build sender trust: repeatedly send emails to users with high engagement rates. But how? Having your Gmail users mixed in with the rest of your email addresses can artificially depress your open rates. That’s why email marketers here at IMGE deploy all content to at least two distinct segments: Gmail and non-Gmail.
Before truly dealing with your Gmail deliverability problems, you must increase your sender reputation as much as possible over a period of a few weeks. By separately segmenting Gmail and non-Gmail users, you ensure a maximum open rate from the Non-Gmail segment – and, critically, begin the process of building up your sender reputation in the eyes of Google.
Now it’s time to re-engage your Gmail segment with multiple staggered sends. But first, you’ve got to cut your overall Gmail segment in two: active and inactive.
Next, it’s time to divide your inactive list into several smaller send segments, mixing in a selected small minority of active Gmail addresses. The purpose of mixing in a small amount of active users is so we can easily and inexpensively boost open rates. Doing this greatly speeds up the process of regaining sender trust from Gmail.
To warm up inactive emails, IMGE marketers recommend a multi-send re-engagement email series to remind your audience what your brand is all about, and the type of content they will be receiving in the future.
In order to optimize this re-engagement series, it is best to repurpose proven winners from past email campaigns that earned high open and engagement rates. Tweak the content to make clear to the audience you have not heard from them in a while, and are hoping to improve your relationship. Aim for short-form, highly-clickable content with a very simple call to action. A petition to support your organization’s top issue, or a one-click survey often performs best.
Choose wisely. Between 2-5 unique pieces of creative should suffice for deployment as part of a re-engagement series.
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance) is an essential tool to help optimize your sender reputation. DMARC is an email validation system designed to protect your company’s email domain from being used for email spoofing, phishing scams and other cybercrimes by leveraging the existing authentication techniques SPF and DKIM. DMARC then adds an important function – reporting.
When a domain owner publishes a DMARC record into their DNS record, they will gain insight into who is sending email on behalf of their domain. This information can be used to get detailed information about the email channel. With this information, a domain owner can gain control over the email send on its behalf. You can use DMARC to protect your domains against abuse in phishing or spoofing attacks. Essentially, it adds one more layer of legitimacy to Google’s filters.
Another best practice you should be incorporating into your Gmail efforts is setting up the free Google Postmaster tool to help with monitoring domain reputation.
Google Postmaster will show you data about DMARC failures, spam complaints, IP reputation, and more. It is extremely useful with monitoring and debugging deliverability issues.
Often, users become disengaged in the first place because you have not effectively managed your relationship with them by sending engaging content on a regular basis. To avoid this, plot out your send schedule so that a user won’t go more than 2 – 2.5 weeks without receiving an email.
But beware – sending too frequently can turn your audience off and lead to an increase in unsubscribes. Be intentional with your send schedule and do not inundate users with emails – it’s about finding a balance of engaging content with a frequency that provides utility to your audience.
At a certain point, it’s not a bad thing to give up. If you have tried everything and a chunk of your subscribers are still not opening, it’s time to unsubscribe them.
Keep in mind: these users were not reading or engaging with your content. You aren’t losing any meaningful reach. And these inactive emails actually hurt deliverability to your active emails who do want your content. Do what’s best for all involved and prune your list.
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