|Sending email to Gmail addresses and Google domains requires a certain level of care.
This article will detail the various aspects of sending emails to Gmail and Google domains.
The Promotions Tab
One of the most common concerns when sending emails is landing in Gmail’s Promotions tab. There is a great deal involved with Gmail tabs and how they apply to emails. When Gmail’s tab system was implemented in 2013, email marketers feared the Promotions tab would be a wasteland where their emails would end up, never to be read by willing recipients. In response, marketers have tried to beat the Google algorithm and place their emails in Gmail's Social, Updates, and Primary tabs.
You cannot avoid the Promotions tab as an email marketer. Gmail parses the language and origin of all emails that come through as part of their gateway and spam filtering, and Google's algorithm looks for certain phrases and word combinations to decide which tab an email should land in. With millions upon millions of emails going through this algorithm each day, Google has become quite skilled at identifying your promotional and marketing emails.
Essentially, in order to not land in the Promotions tab, you would need to keep from sending marketing emails—or at least send an email so strange that the algorithm would not pick up on any promotional language. At this point, it is best to do nothing about the Promotions tab—and that is fine.
In 2015, Return Path released an analysis of 3 million Gmail users—including 400,000 inbox configurations and 55 million email messages—to figure out how the Promotions tab is affecting engagement with marketing messages. Return Path's analysis found that only 0.3% of all commercial messages make it to the Primary tab, and that the Promotions tab receives 90% of all commercial messages.
More than that, box configuration plays a key role. Return Path found that, before inbox configuration took place, messages that are placed in the Promotions tab are read at a similar rate. However, those messages were read at a higher rate than when they were placed in the Social tab.
What this amounts to is that, with a configured inbox, 93% of marketing messages were sent to the inbox's Promotions tab. Without configuration, 77% of these message types were sent to the Primary tab. Additionally, the number of spam complaints for the messages sent to the promotional tab were less-than-half of those for those messages sent to the Primary tab.
Return Path's analysis reveals that the trade-off for messages in the Promotions tab is a significantly higher delivery rate with vastly lower spam complaint rates—all while having little effect on engagement and reading rates.
Delivering to the Primary Tab
The Promotions tab is far less damaging than it appears. Emails that are sent to the Promotions tab are not only mostly harmless, but they actually provide better delivery rates while receiving fewer spam complaints.
That said, there are three ways to have your messages delivered to the Primary tab. However, they are dependent upon your recipient:
- Your recipient adds your From address to their contact list. If the contact is in the address book, Gmail will override the promotional email configuration and drop them into the Primary tab.
- Your recipient moves the email into the Primary tab. If the contact moves the email from the Promotional tab into the Primary tab, subsequent emails will follow suit and will be inboxed there.
- Your recipient stars the email. Emails that are starred will be moved into the Primary tab. Since starring an email places it in the Starred category and deems the email as important, follow-up emails may also be placed into this tab.
Google Apps and Google Domain Deliverability
For many email marketers, Gmail tabs are only the start of deliverability. Personal and business Gmail addresses hosted through Google Apps often correspond up to 40% of their lists. This means that the deliverability to these domains can dramatically affect the overall performance of your marketing program.
To maximize deliverability to Google domains, consider the following:
- Follow Google’s Bulk Senders Guidelines. Gmail spam filters are highly tuned to engagement. You want maximum positive engagement (folks opening, clicking, spending a while reading your content, flagging you as a trusted sender), and minimum negative engagement (low opens, low clicks, high spam complaints, and high unsubscribes). This is achieved by sending engaging, relevant content that folks sign up for—and continue to want.
- Sign up with Google Postmaster Tools. This allows you to check your own up-to-date email reputation. Google delivers mail for trusted senders. New senders, and marketers with poor sender histories, may see their mail blocked or delayed. You can see your sender reputation along several different dimensions using Postmaster Tools.
Google's DMARC Policy
In October 2015, Google announced changes to its DMARC policy, which became effective as of June 2016. Now, when sending messages using a from address with @gmail.com to send mail from SharpSpring, these messages will bounce or go to the recipient's spam folder.
Gmail’s DMARC policy is consistent with many other major email providers, such as Yahoo and AOL, who have had longstanding DMARC rejection policies.
To help ensure your email gets delivered to Google domains, SharpSpring recommends the following:
- Use your own domain (such as @mycompany.com) as the from address for sending email in SharpSpring. Avoid using free email domains, such as Yahoo, AOL, or even Gmail.
- Review your existing SharpSpring email templates, including those triggered by automation, and adjust the from address as needed.