Let’s start with a clarification: providers like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and AOL don’t blacklist senders. That type of thing is only done by blacklisting agencies. If Gmail has begun placing your messages in the Spam folder, and labeling them with “We’ve found that lots of messages from yourdomain.com are spam”, what they’re telling you is that your campaigns have been receiving too many spam complaints and/or too little positive engagement.
The #1 factor is engagement of your recipients
Gmail’s spam filter is one of the most sophisticated in the industry. No surprise, right? It’s Google, and their search technology is unrivaled. Their spam filter uses hundreds of factors to determine message placement, but the number one factor is the overall engagement of your recipients.
This includes all types of engagement factors, but they give the most positive weight to:
- link clicks
- marking a message as important
- responding to a message
- placing a message in a folder
- and of course opens, especially when a message is kept open for more than a few seconds
On the negative side, they heavily weigh:
- spam complaints
- deleted messages
- opens with immediate deletes
It’s important to pay attention to your campaign open rates in Gmail and make sure they don’t get too low. Because open rates are a fairly decent indicator of inbox rates, if they fall below say 3%, you’re probably getting very little, if any, of your messages placed in the inbox. When that happens, there’s no easy “fix”, because Gmail’s spam filter will have “fingerprinted” a combination of your ‘From’ domain, IP address, and message content, so simply moving to a different set of IPs, or changing your sending domain to something completely new, won’t have any significant impact on your inbox rate, at least not for more than a send or two.
Only way to improve your Gmail inbox rate is to remove unengaged recipients
The only way to improve your inbox rate at Gmail is to seriously analyze your lists and begin removing recipients who have shown a consistent history of NOT engaging with your campaigns. You’ll also need to do everything you can to get your recipients to quickly identify your messages in the spam folder, and engage with them there, or even mark them as ‘Not Spam’. That can be done through the ‘Friendly From’ label, and with highly engaging subject lines. You might also consider sending less often, and adding more variety to your messages.
On the technical side, make sure that your messages are passing DKIM authentication, preferably with your own domain and not one that’s owned by your ESP. Setting up your ‘From’ address domain for DKIM is fairly simple, and we can work with you to get that done.
If you have questions, or would like to get your ‘From’ address domain set up for DKIM authentication, please contact Real Magnet’s Deliverability team at Deliverability@Realmagnet.com or your account manager.