When giving delivery advice to any of our 30k+ senders, we first always like to make sure that we are clear on how a sender defines the types of messages they are sending. We ask this because, from the perspective of a mailbox provider (i.e. Gmail or Yahoo) there is a very different way they view and deliver a transactional email vs. a promotional email.

This view is all based on the value provided to the recipient. Spoiler alert: A message is much more likely to be viewed as transactional the more it is providing a larger value to the recipient (i.e. a password reset that the user needs to get back into the system they are attempting to log into).

What Value Are You Providing To Your Recipients?

Let’s remember that the MAIN goal of a mailbox provider is to keep the user happy by putting wanted mail in the inbox. Similarly, they want to put unwanted mail in the spam folder (or block it completely). Even with the countless hours and dollars these major mailbox providers have put into this fight, it’s complicated to do this perfectly. Based on recent articles by marketing expertsand delivery experts, this topic is always evolving.

But, the delivery of a message is really based on one question the mailbox provider is looking to answer; what value does this add for the recipient? Many metrics can go into determining this. A mailbox provider will compare opens, clicks, “marked as spam” counts, unsubscribes, content fingerprints, etc. to determine if the brand and content is “wanted” or not.

Knowing these criteria for categorization is only the start. As a sender, you must take this knowledge and reflect very honestly on what your content would be viewed as. As I stated previously, based on the value they provide, we know that transactional messages get treated more fairly by mailbox providers.

Don’t Mix Your Messages

BE AWARE: Trying to mask elements of promotional content in primarily transactional messages will only hurt the transactional email delivery results. Eventually, the “value” will be found to be more on the side of the sender rather than the recipient and could, for example, hurt the chance of that much needed password reset message going to the inbox.

To learn more about sending wanted email and what engagement metrics affect your reputation, check out the latest post from our Director of Compliance, Jay Weiser: Why Good Delivery Practices are Critical to Avoiding Spam Designations.

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.