The King of Email Inboxes: How Gmail Rules Email Marketing

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You’ve worked hard on a critical email marketing campaign. Finally, the moment comes — you’re ready to click that Schedule button and drop that email into your subscribers’ inboxes.

Then they will eagerly open and obey your Calls to Action to become buyers, right?

But the chances of getting your email list to open your email fall to near zero if your email lands in spam. This is an all too common fate for many legitimate e-commerce stores.

Email deliverability can make or break your company’s email marketing strategy.

Did you know that Google now manages a third of all the inboxes? That’s more even than Apple iPhone, Gmail surpassed last year. It’s, therefore, critical to understanding how Gmail is playing by its ever-changing rules in its email marketing empire.

Gmail's domain dominance demands deference.

It’s easy to see why Gmail is a favorite. With its top-notch user experience and handy integrations, it’s gaining popularity with subscribers quickly.

These users are then leaving Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail, AOL, and others quickly, reinforcing Google’s growing hegemony.

How Google Reinvented Email

If you get your recipients to open your email, move it to any folder besides the spam folder, click on a link, or complete a specific CTA, that’s high engagement. But it’s not that easy, and Google is watching.

Gmail's domain dominance demands deference.

Twenty years ago, Google innovated search by incorporating behavior, in the form of backlinks, into its algorithm. Now Google’s innovated email by including behavior, in the form of engagement, into its gatekeeping spam filters.

Just as Inbound clicks are votes of confidence for search rankings, so, too, for deliverability are email actions that express interest.

The underlying mechanism of the Gmail spam filter algorithm is a well-protected secret. But, when you work closely with Gmail, after some time, it is hard not to notice some patterns.

Some Things I’ve Noticed:

  1. Nurturing campaigns matter. Recipients will give you a free pass into Gmail’s kingdom by engaging with your emails at least somewhat consistently and never flagging them as spam. They will issue you this pass if you’re content is worthy of their time.
  2. Maximize Your Gmail Segment with Klaviyo Advanced Reports. Since the minimum good open rates are 15-20%, you can know precisely how many Gmail addresses to include by dividing the Gmail opens from your last campaign by 0.15. Gmail's domain dominance demands deference. The formula for this example is Gmail Max. Profiles = 763/0.15 → 5086.
  3. Clickbait subject lines are dangerous. They are often very effective at increasing open rates for emails but easily backfire on engagement if you fail to deliver on the promise. Use it wisely.
  4. Strong Call-To-Actions (CTAs), like inviting subscribers to get in touch with you personally, boost engagement dramatically.
  5. Unpredictability is an ally. Change tactics often. If users think they know what you’re going to say before they open your email, they won’t. Be serious; then be funny. Offer a straight discount; then offer a contest—alternate flash promos with detailed newsletters.
  6. Gmail values email authentication. So add a DKIM TXT record to your domain. This provides an encryption key and digital signature that verifies that an email message was not forged or altered and email sending domains so equipped pass more spam filters in Gmail.

While content is often the trigger for spam complaints, there are many factors in play when it comes to avoiding the spam folder in Gmail. Carefully consider your email campaign’s deliverability strategy accordingly based on observation, like my notes above, and methodical testing. What strategies have you tried and what’s worked best to enter the Gmail realm? Comment below to let us know!

Thomas McClintock and Debbie Ang

Hustler Marketing

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