When you send an email or email blast, Google evaluates the email content as well as the reputation of the sender, and depending on many factors which are mentioned below will decide what label/tab the email should be categorized. It may deliver the email in the Primary tab, Social, Updates, etc category or send it directly to the junk folder.
Gmail uses these categories to unclutter the inbox so users find and manage their emails easier and they don’t get caught with less valuable emails.
Here are 11 factors affecting email deliveries and categorization in Gmail:
- Sender’s IP Address
If you are using a new IP address that Google does not have a history of sending/receiving emails from that IP address, Gmail will treat most emails as suspicious. If you have a few links or verbiage on the email that is more spammy or marketing email content Gmail most likely delivers this email to the junk folder. It is essential to warm up the IP address before starting to send out email blasts to a large list. Some platforms may let you buy a dedicated IP address to use for email blasts and many believe that having a dedicated IP address may offer them higher deliverability and that is wrong unless the IP address is warmed up. Also, while these platforms promise that the dedicated IPs are not banned you need to check them on the black lists checkers to make sure the IP address you acquired is not blacklisted.
- Past Interactions
If you have a history of emailing back and forth with a user (i.e. you received an email from that user, too), most likely future emails will be delivered in the Primary tab and will not go to the junk folder. Sometimes you can ask the email receiver to respond back with anything (i.e. confirmation of receipt) to train Gmail that treats the email sender as a safe sender.
One-Way emails are the type of emails that customers usually receive from different websites’ newsletters/updates and they never respond back. After some time Google will realize that certain emails never replied back and may start categorizing them as Promotion or something else. Creative email writing should encourage the receiver to reply to the emails at least once every few emails they receive (unless the emails are sent from unmonitored emails and the type of emails can never have a response).
- Domain Records
If you’re sending emails from your own domain/self-hosted email marketing software, make sure the domain records (the A records, CNAME, MX, etc) resolve at the same IP address as the sender’s IP address. Also, make sure you have an SPF record. Having a DKIM (Domain Key Identified Mail) helps to give more credibility to the sender and blocks other spammers and malicious parties from impersonating your domain.
- Custom Email Vs Generic Email
If you send one generic email (same subject and same body) to all. Google understands that you’re probably sending a newsletter if it doesn’t categorize you as spam. So the emails may not be delivered to the inbox or at least may end up in the Gmail Promotion tab. The best thing to trick the filtration as well as create a better-personalized experience is to include the name of the receiver in the subject line and possibly in the content. Most email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp or ConstantContact offer this feature to customize the subject line or the content with dynamic fields that can be inserted per each contact.
- Content Text and Tone
Gmail reads the content and understands the nature of the email. Based on what is written and the tone it can guess whether this is one person to another person’s email or it is a sales email sent to another person or a list. The more sales stuff included in the email content, the more it may be rated as Promotion or Spam.
- Fancy Layouts Vs Realistic Personal Emails
While sending a nice-looking email helps with higher engagement and click-through rate it’s a red flag for Gmail and other email providers to categorize your email as Spam or if the sender is reputable Gmail will categorize it as Promotion. So if your email goes to the junk folder or is often categorized as Promotion, reducing the design elements and coding on the email will help to pass the filtration.
- Code/Text Ratio
If you use too much code (HTML, Inline CSS, Script, etc) on the email while your visible text is low there is a high probability Google will categorize the email as spam.
- Too Many Pictures
Avoid embedding too many pictures in an email (pictures that are hosted online and embedded with code). This increases the code/text ratio and may increase the chance of getting caught in the filtration system.
- Too Many Links Or Bad Links
Having too many (more than 1 or 2) links on an email is a red flag. Remove unnecessary links and keep the most important ones. Also, make sure the links are not from banned websites. If the link provided on the email sends the user to a Porn website or when the websites are marked by Google as scam/phishing or hacked will make the Email be categorized as spam and sent to the junk folder or sometimes it gets hammered (it will not deliver at all). Sending emails with banned links will damage the reputation of the sender (IP address and the Domain).
- Business Information
Showing the business information including address and phone number increases the credibility of the sender and increases the chance that the email will be delivered.
- Unsubscribe Button
Including an unsubscribe button with a link to a website that is not dead increases the reputation of the sender and increases the chance that the email will be delivered. Some email senders include an Unsubscribe text but are not linked to anywhere or linked to a dead website link. Those emails will most likely be rated as spam by GMail.