Marketers know how crucial email is to their brand. And our Delivery Team is always looking to share what we think may help good senders know how to keep “fighting the good fight” when it comes to email marketing. In this post, we’ll share a couple of recent discoveries that show that inbox filters may be scrutinizing and looking at more details than email marketers may realize.

Some marketers argue that these filters are being unreasonable for deciding what a user wants and doesn’t want to see in their inbox. But, either way, we always feel that it’s best to know what you’re getting judged on…even if you don’t agree with it. These discoveries are:

1. Gmail Calling Out Brands When Users Don’t “Open” Enough

2. Microsoft Preferring a Specific Unsubscribe Option

Yes, the days of only needing to create attention-grabbing subject lines and eye-catching content, unfortunately, has evolved into a world that’s a bit more, um, complicated.

Inbox Filters are looking for more indicators of detecting good senders and “wanted” mail.

The plus side is that filters are also looking at more than just the subject line and content. So, now you can get away more with using !!! and $$$ and em😀jis. And if they lead to good engagement with your brand, go for it. But, also we recommend knowing about these two updates.

So let’s dive in…

Item 1: Gmail and Your Opens

Here is an image of what we saw in the “Inbox by Gmail” app when we didn’t open a certain sender’s mail for 30 days:

At the top, you’ll see the statement, “You haven’t opened any emails from this sender in the last month.” Another way of interpreting this is that Gmail doesn’t like when you continue to send to a recipient who hasn’t opened a message from you in 30+ days.

We believe that there are more factors (like spam complaints, bounces, unsubscribes) that play into this other than just opens. I have had many brands continue to send to me after I haven’t opened their messages in 30 days. And Gmail doesn’t always present this message from those senders. But, it is worth noting that there is a possibility that Gmail will decide to display this message if a recipient hasn’t engaged in a month.

Possible Solution: Look to send your re-engagement or “win-back” campaign prior to the 30-day mark. It’s a best practice to continuously try to test different “value” to get a recipient to engage (and not sending the same content to all users regardless of their spot in the email lifecycle). But, if you are looking for a new target to test, this is a good time.

Item 2: Microsoft’s Unsubscribe Preference

Previously, we’ve discussed what the “List-Unsubscribe” header is—it’s been around for a bit. But, for those not familiar with it, this is another way of allowing a recipient to opt-out of email other than the standard unsubscribe link that most marketers put at the bottom of each message.

There are options of having the header revert to a website (http://) or just send a message to a certain address (mailto:).

Both options must honor the request and make sure to not send to that recipient again. But, if you use the mailto: option, Microsoft seems to give a nicer message and exercises different follow-up actions after the unsubscribe request.

The images below are when you click the “unsubscribe” link just under the “FROM” address and before the message images start at the top of a message in your inbox.

Like this:

What appears with only http:// or no List-unsubscribe header available:

This is what appears with the preferred mailto: in the List-Unsubscribe header:

Essentially Microsoft is saying that an http:// option is the same as not providing “any information to help you unsubscribe.” It is good to be aware of this because if the messages get blocked moving forward, they are calling out the address they will block.

If you send all of your marketing and transactional mail with the same “FROM” address, you may have transactional mail blocked due to this marketing address not being allowed any longer.

Possible Solution: Make sure to utilize the “List-Unsubscribe” header and have the mailto: header option present. If you aren’t sure how to do this, feel free to use our Subscription Tracking tool which does this for you. Additionally, if you don’t segment your messages by different “FROM” addresses for marketing and transactional, start doing so. This may help to not accidentally have your password resets and receipts blocked just because they don’t want your marketing messages.

As always, if you aren’t sure how to tackle this or want to find out more about these updates on an ongoing basis, feel free to review our different services our Delivery Team offers to navigate these wild delivery waters.

Happy Sending!

Jacob Hansen
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.