Challenge of the Week: Gmail
By Al Iverson @ExactTarget 1/17/13
Gmail can be a tough nut to crack. They’re very much focused on placing a sender’s mail in the inbox only if they feel it is truly wanted and desired. They seem to rely very heavily on engagement. If your open rates and click rates are lower than average, your mail is much more likely to go to the spam folder at Gmail.
They might even be better about determining what’s wanted than I am or you are. I’ve seen two different senders with Gmail issues in the past year where their messages were basically just repeated, ongoing, very direct attempts to convert a free subscriber into a paying customer. Gmail seems pretty hesitant to route those messages to the inbox. I think this is an example where a focus on engagement alone might not be enough, and you need to stop and think about how you can raise the perceived value of those messages as measured by end recipients. How can you increase the value of the messages you’re sending? What can you do to include content that recipients actually want to read?
Here’s another difficult issue we observed. A client was sending both transactional and commercial messaging. They were seemingly doing everything right, yet they still suffered from intermittent spam folder issues. A technical review found nothing was amiss. Authentication was fully in place and working. They were properly focusing on engagement, too. So what gives?
It turns out the issue was that other messaging they were sending (not via ExactTarget) was dragging down their domain’s reputation, causing problems for their ExactTarget-sent mail. Even if you’re using a different from domain, you’re probably going to repeatedly reference your core domain name in the messaging you send. That means all messaging you send — no matter the content or who sends it — must be implemented correctly from a technical perspective (and not spammy!) if it references you or your domains. Lists need to be clean — not purchased, not appended — and engagement needs to be respected. (continue @ExactTarget)