We all know Gmail is building great things all the time and continually improving their products. It’s also nice when we hear what these updates are and how they may affect email deliverability as it can affect email marketing goals and strategy.  Google recently announced some great new features that, in their words, help inbox users “Do more without leaving your inbox.”

It’s also important for email marketers to know about any updates and how their recipients’ inboxes are changing as it can affect email strategy and goals. The most recent updates to Gmail include a lot of new tasty items about viewing images, calling out dangerous senders, or a new idea of “nudging” users about certain messages.

Highlights for marketers

So, what features should marketers be most aware of? Most notably, Gmail may start highlighting your emails as either “important” or “unengaging.”

Gmail recipients (and let’s get real…according to our 2018 Global Email Benchmark Report, that’s probably a large portion of most lists) should now—or very soon—see these two features in their Gmail suite.

As for the “important” tag, this is a great item to strive for, but so far, we’re seeing this mainly appearing for transactional mail or brands we REALLY like and open often. I wouldn’t say you’re a bad sender if your emails don’t end up being highlighted as an important sender.

What you can do is take note of what you see highlighted in your own inbox and take a look back to see how it got that way. For example, did you open all of a brand’s emails they sent during a single month? Remember, we don’t know exactly how Gmail calculates this, so keeping an eye on patterns will help you compare your emails to others and help to see if there are changes you can make to become tagged as important.

Highlighting senders that recipients don’t engage with

For those who use Inbox by Gmail, you may have already seen the “unsubscribe” option start popping up in December for some users. Our Delivery Team has been bringing this to the attention of senders we work with since we started seeing it in our own inboxes.

So, why is this important? Most senders who have a large email list treat it like currency. It’s hard to let go of recipients…even if they aren’t opening. This update makes all marketers reflect on how long they send to a recipient without seeing engagement from them.

Regardless of your final strategy decision, just be aware that Gmail may be calling you out after 30 days.

Whether you choose to tighten up your sunset policy right away or not, at least research how likely your recipients are to open after not opening your mail after a certain period of time. If you want to conduct this research within your SendGrid account, feel free to search up to 30 days within your email activity feed history for detailed email engagement among your recipients. This will give you an idea of what Gmail seems to be looking really closely at.

We also have a great filter in our Marketing Campaigns tool that can let you segment your sending to those who engaged within an exact time period.


Like with anything you want to excel at, it’s great to know how you’re getting judged and adjust accordingly. Recipients benefit the most from these most recent Gmail updates. But these changes are also great to inform marketers of some more defined factors of what they are up against out there in their recipients’ inboxes!

To learn more about how you can ensure your emails are getting delivered to all of your recipients, check out SendGrid’s 2018 Deliverability Guide.

Happy Sending!

Jacob comes from a background in technical account management and delivery analysis for the last six years, and has been with SendGrid's Deliverability Consultant team for the last two years. He enjoys spreading knowledge to help the email community send more "wanted email" and to help senders realize their full potential. Originally from Nebraska, but living in Colorado long enough for it to feel like home, Jacob enjoys a lot of what the Denver restaurant, bar, brewery and music scenes have to offer.