Gmail Inbox Delivery: Evolution and Predictions for 2019

 In Email Deliverability

This blog will change the way you look at emails. Also, If you are facing inbox delivery challenges, especially in Gmail, say goodbye to them because I'm going to share some tricks saved up my sleeves which can solve your problems in a snap.

Folks, that's not going to happen overnight.

Even Thanos cannot solve email delivery challenges with a snap! The world of emails is entirely different.

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So let’s peep in how the Gmail delivery landscape has changed over the years and how email experts are up for it in 2019.

 

The growing superpower of Gmail Spam Filters

Every year mailbox providers try to safeguard their users from the wrath of spam emails. Gmail is one of the most protective MSPs and would never compromise on the quality and relevance of emails received by its users.

2015-16

Gmail launched postmaster into focus on collecting data about reputation, abuses and started giving visibility to senders.

Postmaster is a tool that displays different metrics for emails sent to Gmail users. Gmail wanted senders to learn about their domain and IP reputation and learn to be a better sender.

In the words of ReturnPath, “Gmail is the world’s largest webmail provider, but its deliverability requirements are closely guarded. Understanding how to reach Gmail inboxes is critical for marketers, but it’s no easy task. Gmail does not use common resources (like third-party whitelists and public blacklists), and they provide little in the way of support for senders. However, Gmail has begun to relax the secrecy around their deliverability requirements, starting with the launch of their postmaster site in 2015.”

2016-17

Postmaster grew smarter, and Google spam filters started relying on the data of postmaster to rate email health of a sender. Spam filters started getting more accurate and uncompromising hereon. With more access to data came more responsibility, if senders continued to send bad emails, their IP reputation would move from high to medium and eventually low. It was evident that the sender needed to make a change in their sending habits.

2018-2019

Gmail started giving immense importance to engagement & its frequency, more than what it had in previous years. Apart from known positives and negative trends emerging from email activity, they also started reading 100s of signals from other Google services unknown generally to the senders, this impacted lots of senders and experts in the industry as they were unable to predict changes Gmail made to its new algorithm.

Your brand is being judged not only on engagement with its list but also by what is happening with it over the web, especially with all Google services. These signals are too hard to predict, and one can only have conjecture.

 

A misconception about B2B vs. B2C spam filters

Gmail is one of the most used personal mailboxes, and Google has similar service for work mailboxes known as G-suite. There is consistent growth of office inboxes moving to Google and Microsoft hosting.

Email sender needs to pay attention to both segments of their list, public domains, and corporate domains. If your list has B2B email addresses, you should know engagement is still an essential metrics to landing in the Inbox.

According to Laura Atkins from Word to the Wise “whilst the same filtering engine is used on Office 365 and G-Suite as their B2C counterparts Outlook.com and Gmail, the weighting used in the algorithms differ. Such as in the measurement of SCL (spam confidence level) and BCL (bulk complaint level) at Microsoft.”

 

Emailversation - Email comes to life

Conversation is a great way to build relationships. This is true for human and technology alike. We are social beings and love to interact- may it be people or machines. Being an email sender you must be able to harness this need for interaction to get your message across better.

While at one side email engagement is an important metrics for spam filters when judging email health, MSPs are launching features to make email conversations effortless. They are making emailversation possible.

let's look at some of the coolest things happening around your Gmail mailbox:

AMP for Emails

AMP (also known as Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open source framework of Google through which they help mobile pages load faster. At its essence, it's basically a stripped-down form of HTML, a diet HTML

From the Google blog  “Today, we’re bringing the power of AMP to email through the Gmail Developer Preview of "AMP for Email." This new spec will be a powerful way for developers to create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.”

AMP aims at giving the user power to take action on important information received over an email while keeping information fresh every time the user views it. Imagine if you could submit an RSVP to a conference or fill a survey or schedule an appointment right from the email message.

With reducing time and attention span of users, AMP saves time and clicks of users by showing what is relevant. It is a handy feature for marketers and consumer alike. If this sounds interesting to you, but your curiosity about AMP is beginning to rise to check Why AMP is such a big thing.

If you wish to enable AMP for your emails you can register here.

 

Gmail Annotations for your promotional email:

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Now give life to your promotional emails. Gmail Annotations allows users to see images, deals, expiration date.

Here is an example of an email. It shows your email's Subject line, second subject line, offer code, banner image and offer expiry date as well, a great way senders can leverage schema and make emails more conversational for their users.

They might very well also introduce CTA on this, you never know.

Developers and marketers can add a small script to their email header to enable this feature. Learn more about it here.

Gmail doesn't take guarantee that your promotion Annotation will display on all your user's inboxes. It mostly depends on how users have been interacting with your emails in the past.

 

Gmail injecting AI in its framework

There is no doubt that all technologies and channels have started getting a touch of machine learning and Artificial intelligence in them, and email is not untouched.

Gmail has been experimenting with AI & machine learning since you first heard these terms. Some of the recent use cases are a fantastic epitome of what all user can do in the mailbox. Gmail Snooze, Nudge, Sidepanel and more are just as tempting as the ones we are mentioning below:

 

Proactive Unsubscribe Notifications

You heard it right. Gmail app has started giving notification to its users to unsubscribe from the email they don’t interact with or have not been opening in a long time.

We saw this happening with very few users but seems to be again a closed experiment run by Gmail for better user experience. There is also a possibility that this is a controlled experiment to train its machine learning algorithms on whether it is predicting right about unwanted emails or inactive emails.

Gmail is creating a deep level journey of a user with every brand they interact & based on that the algorithm is getting updated, e.g., 10 users shown notification of unsubscribing and if most of them or all of them unsubscribe, it creates negative sentiment and Google records that in their algorithm.

A Spam free mailbox was nearly impossible a few years back, but with features like these, a user can control the mailbox completely. Gmail is not just looking at engagement metrics singularly but also how recent is the engagement is and how frequently it happens for it to give these pro-active notifications.

Top Picks

If you are one of the many users, who have witnessed promotions tab divided into two, Top Promotions and Other Promotions or something similar you know already what I mean by top picks. It is also seen Gmail experimenting with the title of Top Promotion as Top Picks or Top deals. We saw Google doing some testing around this at the start of the year.

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Old emails still in my Top Picks

The theory behind doing this is again to enhance user experience and show the email of the brand user is engaging with frequently in the Top Picks instead of Other Promotions. While brands who are coming in Top Picks themselves don't know how this is happening hence, this could be one of the many experiments which Gmail runs for improving or coming up with the new inbox design.

Gmail continues to launch great stuff for its users. Are you doing equally great when sending email to Gmail users?

As a great email sender, what should you do?

If you are sending marketing emails, you need to start looking at email engagement in more depth. Engagement does not just mean how users interact with your brand over email but also how your brand interacts with its users over the Web, and there are 100s of unknown signals which are always at work hence keep listening and improving.

Segmentation is underrated. What we mean is you need to monitor how every single user is engaging with your content in addition to the overall list.

Mailbox providers have already started using machine learning to make their filters smarter. They want to provide a personalized mailbox to each user irrespective of overall positive engagement of a brand with the entire list. Hence just a good reputation is not good enough to put you in front of your users.

You need to be able to optimize your send time, email content and what you offer in near real-time. You need to make email experience of your users genuinely personal. 2019 unfolds new possibilities for each one of us to communicate with our users. Make it valuable and let every email count.

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