If you use email marketing, this is likely costing you money now or will in the future, if you don't adapt to the new reality...
OK, so my researcher and I have spent the better part of today digging around at Google and I have some solutions if you do find this to be a problem.
Google is trying to help in a way that might be a little overbearing.
Let's say that:
I delete your emails while they are still unread (I would NEVER do that, of course – I love your emails)
I don't rescue your emails from my spam folder (it looks like google assumes that we all go through our spam folders every day)
Someone clicks on the “Report Spam” button with your email open
You are promoting something that has been associated with spam....
It all goes into your permanent record
Google will start tossing your emails into spam folders. It doesn't seem to be ALL messages. I found messages in my spam folder from the same sender that made it into my inbox today.
There are only THREE ways that google gives to avoid this, and they ALL must be done by your email recipients.
1. Add you to their contacts list – BUT be warned – they explicitly say that even an added contact's email can go to your spam filter:
“”””Some messages sent from contacts which are very clearly spam can be sent directly to your Spam label. More importantly, in some cases messages from contacts will not be sent to Spam but will be marked with a red warning banner if the content is suspicious - for example, your friend's or contact's account has been compromised and used to send phishing messages.””””
2. Your recipients can sort through the crap in their spam folder, find your messages, and mark them as “Not Spam.” This, too, apparently goes into your permanent record... If not yours, at least your recipients'. Here's what google says:
“”””users have the option of clicking a 'Not spam' button for each message flagged by our spam filters. We listen to users' reports, and correct problems in order to provide them with the best user experience. As long as our users don't consider your mail as spam, you shouldn't have inbox delivery problems.””””
In the old days, if there were spam complaints, the ISP would contact the user or the sender and get the opt-in proof. Google doesn't wait for the complaints it seems, and you know how they like automation – they see the “Not Spam” button as the user confirming that the email is solicited.
3. Your recipients can create a filter to ensure that your emails NEVER go into their spam folders... Getting them to do something simple like adding you to contacts is hard enough – teaching and getting them to set up filters would be um... ambitious. Here's how to set up filters:
Using filters - Gmail Help
Here are my tips for you:
1. Google wants to help people unsubscribe beyond the normal means. They like little sort of pop-up unsubscribe headers in email (I've seen these a few times, but not often):
"Because Gmail can help users automatically unsubscribe from your email, we strongly recommend the following: Provide a 'List-Unsubscribe' header which points to an email address where the user can unsubscribe easily from future mailings (Note: This is not a substitute method for unsubscribing)."
2. Put the email that the user used to subscribe IN the email. Again, from google:
"It's possible that your users forward mail from other accounts, so we recommend that you: Explicitly indicate the email address subscribed to your list."
3. They encourage you to use the same from address with all of your bulk messages, but they THEN go on to tell you to maybe use different email addresses for promotion vs. transaction. I'll leave conclusions and loopholes implied there up to you.
4. It could just be your offer. It seems that when an affiliate marketer is tagged as a spammer, everyone associated with the offer suffers:
"Affiliate marketing programs reward third-parties for bringing visitors to your site. Unfortunately, these programs are attractive to hard-core spammers and can potentially do more harm than good. Please note the following: If your brand becomes associated with affiliate marketing spam, it can affect the mail sent by you and your other affiliates." YIKES!
A very telling change Google just implemented yesterday (May 4) I think points to them trying to push Gmail users into adding more Contacts...
Store up to 25,000 contacts - Official Gmail Blog
Google just increased the maximum number of Contacts you can add from 10,000 to 25,000 yesterday. It can't be a coincidence that this happened just after the problems with inaccurate spam filtering.
That's about it.
Just wanted to put this out there as many of you may not even be aware this was going on with gmail.