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Are Your Emails Reaching Gmail’s Inbox?

We all know just how important email marketing still is even if the naysayers say otherwise.  The fact of the matter is that email marketing is like Old Faithful, it just is always there when you need it the most.

There’s no doubt it’s not nearly as effective of a marketing tool as it once was.  People just don’t spend as much time checking their emails like they used to.  Not to mention the fact that many people have multiple email addresses and most go neglected.  I can testify to that previous statement as I have at least twenty myself from all my businesses.  However like most, there is always one email address that is everyone’s primary and as Email Marketers we hope we’re lucky enough to have tapped into that one rather than the other 19 red-headed step children.

I remember that doomsday when Google introduced the “Promotions” and “Social” tabs in Gmail.  It was the beginning of the end for most email hitting the “Primary” inbox.  As time has moved on, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have progressively added layer upon layer of filters to ensure our primary inbox is “SPAM free.”  Unfortunately they’re making educated guesses with our mail and hoping for the best.  I don’t know about you, but it’s super frustrating to me every time I find an important email tucked away for my safety and put into my promotions and SPAM folders.

I wish that they would just let us mark the unwanted emails we receive as SPAM and not intervene.  Since when were the ISPs elected as the “Email Police?!”  Unfortunately for us the Internet truly is the Wild Wild West and we’re at the mercy of everyone of these companies who provide us with these services.  They set the rules and we have no choice but to play by them.  At this point I think it would be easier to be a Chess Master than an Email Marketer.

But as much as I am aggravated as an email receiver, I’m 100 times more angry that my email marketing messages are only hitting the inbox about one third of the time and that’s just my best guess.  I have an eCommerce store with roughly 45,000 subscribers and 1/3 of those subscribers have a Gmail account.  It seems no matter what email marketing provider (i.e. Aweber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Klaviyo, SendGrid, etc.) I use, my messages to gmail accounts end up in the SPAM folder a very high portion of the time.

Deliverability is KING when it comes to email marketing.  In fact without deliverability your email marketing efforts will suffer immensely and it will drive you nuts as to why your list is not being responsive to your messages.

I believe I may have found a solution to the problem after extensive testing.  However the behavior patterns of multiple Gmail accounts I own have not been 100% congruent.  So at this point I can only hypothesize my findings thus far, but I can say I have seen an improvement with deliverability.

So what’s the secret to inboxing with Gmail?

My findings have shown that the link you’re including in your messages is the primary factor.  I can literally send the exact same message without the link and it will inbox 100% of the time.  If for any reason Google thinks the link you’re including in your messages is in any way spammy you’re messages will automatically be labeled as SPAM.  So you’re probably saying to yourself, “Kerry that’s great news, but how does that help me?  I need to send a link in my emails for marketing purposes.” and I couldn’t agree with you more…

From my testing I found that if you take your “spammy” link and use some link shortener like Goo.gl or Bit.ly and include it in your message it magically inboxes again.

Another key factor I found was that with promotional emails which are formatted like the big eCommerce stores such as Nike, Venus, Duluth Trading Company, etc., Google looks at that type of formatting to be “Promotional” and instantly sends those type of emails there.

So if you really want to get into the inbox of Gmail, avoid using visually appealing email formatting like Walmart, Eastbay, Under Armour, etc.  Just use plain old text with as few images as possible.  From my initial testing my emails with one image and zero images seemed to inbox similarly, but initially I recommend using no images just to be safe.

With that being said, good luck infiltrating Gmail’s primary inbox – you’re going to need it!  Do you have a tip or trick that has helped you hit Gmail’s primary inbox a high percentage of the time?  Please leave your comments below…

 

 

 

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