Recently, after months and months of trying, my employer made it off the Gmail spam list and back into the Gmail inbox. They had been in spam long before I worked there, so the best estimate is that it was like that for a year. I probably spent at least 30 hours on the phone over the last few months with sales people in all things email marketing, just in case they had an idea I hadn’t heard yet. So here is a compilation of everything I tried. I’m not sure what combination worked and what didn’t but if you’re in a similar situation I suggest all of the below actions. I should also mention we moved from SmartFocus to Bronto during this time, so that’s another component, though despite that move we were still in spam for the first 6 months with Bronto, so it’s unlikely changing ESP’s will fix it for you, despite what they say on the sales call. So aside from that change here is what you should do:
1. Stop emailing all non-engaged Gmail users on your list. I was reluctant to do this because if all your emails are going to spam then of course you’re not going to have many engaged users if any at all on that domain. When I finally realized no matter what I did they weren’t getting the email though I finally made the change. This was actually the last thing I did prior to the change, and a month later we were back in the inbox, so if I had to do it all over again I’d do this first.
2. Get a new IP Address & private domain. This is assuming you have a dedicated IP address and the ability to send with a private domain. If you share an IP with other senders then try to get a dedicated IP address. This will give you a chance at a fresh start. The new private domain may even need to be something that is not your domain. For example ours is currently a Bronto domain. Be sure to only change this once though, changing this around frequently will raise red flags in the spam engines and potentially make things worst.
3. Change the template of your emails. Try some different templates out and see how they do. Originally I thought this was a strange suggestion but the format of the emails actually made a difference on a few occasions. Typically an ESP will have pre-designed templates. Try using some of those since they’ve been designed by the experts.
4. Add more text. When I first took over email we sent all image emails. I saw nothing wrong with this as virtually all major retailers seem to do this. It was suggested to me however to include more text for Google’s sake. So we made the navigation text based and then added teasers for recent blog posts that were text instead of graphics.
5. Make sure to send out text versions and alt tag all images. This is email 101, don’t skip this step. Even if you think no one read it the spam filters do.
6. Ask customer’s to pull you from spam at every chance. We added a blurb to check your spam folder to every confirmation page on the site to encourage people to vote us back into the inbox.
7. Clean your list of bounces and spam traps. The size of your list isn’t as important as the quality of the list, especially when it comes to spam traps. Ask your ESP to identify them for you.
8. Ask Google to reconsider here. This was the only place I could find where you could actually contact Google about this, we tried using our Adwords rep, Google Apps number, and we even talked to reps of other companies owned by Google. None of them could help though, so this is your best shot.
9. Offer your best discounts in the welcome emails. This strategy guaranteed that many customer’s would fish the email out of spam because we would advertise large discounts for giving us their email and then require them to get the code from the welcome email we would send. Then in the welcome email we made a big deal about taking us out of spam.
So once we implemented all these things we finally got out of spam. This has been huge for us as in recent cases our revenue per email has improved 500%! It’s hard to say which of these things was relevant with Google’s secrecy, so be safe and try them all. What tips can you add to getting better inbox placement?