Thanks to better ways of filtering and blocking spam, inboxes are nearly free of unwanted mail—but not without a price.
On average, 20 percent of global permission based email never reaches its intended destination—your customers’ inboxes.
While it would be great if there was a single algorithm that all the mailbox providers used, that simply isn’t the case. Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo Mail have each developed unique spam filtering formulas to deliver the email their users want and protect them from malicious messages.
In this guide, we’ll clear up misunderstandings about the different rules of deliverability, and help senders understand what it takes to reach the gmail inbox.
Google’s free email service, Gmail, launched in 2004 and in just 13 years has become the world’s largest webmail service provider. Currently, Gmail has over a billion active users.
As the top webmail provider, understanding how to reach Gmail inboxes is crucial for senders.
However, the requirements for reaching Gmail inboxes are a closely guarded secret. Unlike many of its large competitors, Gmail doesn’t utilize whitelists, disclose use of public blacklists, or provide a lot of direction, tools, or support for senders.
In this post, we will talk about Gmail’s known spam filtering practices, their recommendations for email infrastructure, and their postmaster services.
We will also provide some recommendations to help senders navigate the path to the Gmail inbox.
Gmail primarily uses its community of users to determine whether email is spam or not. Gmail considers the following user feedback important in their spam filtering decisions.
As with most spam filters, the content of the email headers, body, and attachments is scoured for keywords, images, HTML, URLs, malware, and many other common components.
Content is always included in the overall spam filtering algorithm, but how much weight it carries usually depends on the reputation of the sender and the following feedback is also taken in consideration
Not spam votes
Messages read and deleted
Messages deleted without reading
Messages replied to
Gmail temporarily blocks new IP addresses without a reputation for the first two to 24 hours, then delivers small amounts of mail to both the inbox and the spam folders to gauge subscriber reactions.
If complaints are too high, future emails will be delivered mostly to spam. If more people rescue messages from the spam folder by clicking “this is not spam” during this period, it indicates that the mail is safe to be delivered to the inbox.
User engagement is a major factor in Gmail’s filtering decisions. Gmail evaluates both a user’s engagement with their mailbox in general and their engagement with a specific sending domain to determine what to deliver to each user.
Users who interact with email from a domain regularly are more likely to get those messages placed in their inbox.
Additionally, users who frequently interact with their mailbox overall receive a higher percentage of messages in their inbox than other users.
It’s important for senders understand the relationship between these two measures of engagement.
Users who are less engaged with your domain than with the rest of their mailbox may have fewer of your messages delivered to the inbox, even if you consider them an engaged subscriber.
Gmail does not make any blacklists available publicly.
However, our research shows a correlation between spam filtering at Gmail and Spamhaus.
Previously, Gmail was very secretive about their policies around reaching the inbox.
But in 2015 they launched their own postmaster site to provide senders with some insight about what it takes to reach Gmail users.
Gmail postmaster tools
To begin using the Gmail’s postmaster tools, senders need to first add and verify their authenticated domain.
Once authenticated, senders need to prove they own the domain by entering the DNS TXT or the DNS CNAME. Once verified, senders will be able to access several dashboards.
Bulk sender guidelines
Gmail compiled a list of best practices for reaching Gmail users in their Bulk Sender Guidelines.
This includes recommendations around subscribing new addresses, authentication, unsubscribing, and email format to help senders optimize their program to reach Gmail inboxes.
Gmail’s feedback loop works a bit differently than a typical feedback loop.
Traditionally, when a user clicks the “report spam” button, a message is sent back to the sender or to the sender’s email service provider in Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) which shows the actual email address of the complainer to be removed.
Gmail, however, does not send feedback in the form of an ARF. Instead, they use aggregated spam statistics to show complaints overall by customers. To get information in the postmaster tools for the feedback loop, senders need to embed a header called the Feedback-ID, consisting of parameters that uniquely identify their individual campaigns.
When it comes to proper email setup, Gmail advises the following:
1. Consistently send from the same IP address(es).
2. Have valid rDNS for sending IP addresses pointing to your domain.
3. Use a consistent “From:” domain for each type of email.
4. Sign messages with DKIM.
5. Publish a SPF record.
6. Publish a DMARC policy.
Gmail has increased their reliance on authentication. In addition to authentication’s impact on filtering, Gmail distinguishes authenticated versus unauthenticated mail for their users.
If a Gmail user receives a message that was not authenticated with either SPF (Sender Policy Framework) or DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), the sender’s profile photo or avatar is replaced with a red question mark.
In addition to authentication, Gmail also advocates Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption.
If Gmail receives email not encrypted with TLS, they will display a broken lock icon in the message as a warning to Gmail users that the message is unsecured.
Although Gmail does not have any official partners, they do have thousands of hosted business domains that use Google Apps.
Whitelists and Prioritized Delivery
Gmail does not offer their own whitelisting services, nor do they subscribe to any third-party whitelists.
Gmail Inbox Categories
To help Gmail users organize and quickly access their email, Gmail created an inbox filing system called inbox categories.
All incoming mail is filtered into the following categories:
Social, Social notifications and updates
Promotions Email marketing promotions and offers
Transactional emails like receipts and
shipping notifications Updates
Forums Mailing lists and groups
Personal emails and messages from other categories where the tab isn’t turned on Gmail classifies incoming messages into these categories using a special algorithm that looks at everything from content and metadata to user feedback, then places them into the relevant tab.
Gmail currently enables the Primary, Social, and Promotions tabs by default, but users can also choose to enable any combination of tabs or restore a single, uncategorized inbox.
Gmail users have many options for influencing how messages are categorized:
1. Right clicking and selecting the desired category from the
“Move to tab” menu
2. Selecting the message and choosing a label from the dropdown
3. Starring a message: The starred message will appear in the Primary inbox, but only that message will appear in the Primary inbox.
Future promotional messages will still be filtered to the Promotions, Social, Updates, or Forums tab.
4. Dragging and dropping a message into a different tab: When a user drags and drops a message into a different tab, Gmail displays a prompt asking users if they would like all future messages from that sender to go to the selected tab. If yes is selected, all messages from that sender will automatically be sent to the new tab going forward. Otherwise messages from that sender will continue to go to the original tab.
While helpful for Gmail users, Gmail’s multiple “inboxes” adds an extra challenge for senders attempting to reach their Gmail subscribers.
Like the way a message delivered to the spam folder typically goes unnoticed, messages not delivered to the location subscribers expect won’t be seen or interacted with. As a sender, it’s important to ensure your emails are being classified correctly as either Social, Promotions, Updates, or Forums. A misclassified email can result in lower open rates and cause a bad user experience.
Following are suggestions from Gmail to help ensure your messages are directed to the correct category:
• Send different categories of mail (e.g., promotions, transaction notifications, social updates) from different, authenticated sender addresses, and try to keep those addresses consistent over time.
• Avoid mixing different types of content in one email, since each message can only be sorted to a single category. For example, putting a promotion into a transactional email may cause the message to be misclassified as a promotion.
In addition to the unsubscribe links included in the email body, Gmail offers two different unsubscribe methods: an optional List-Unsubscribe that senders can include and the report spam and unsubscribe button in Gmail’s user interface.
We hope you have enjoyed this informative guide to getting better delivery to Gmail, if you would like to download the guide please click the link and visit our friends at Return Path, who we thank for this great content
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If you work in email marketing, you’ve probably heard of DMARC, DKIM, and SPF. This alphabet soup of acronyms is important but sometimes misunderstood. In the following overview, we’ll explain what DMARC is, why it’s necessary, how you can set up your own record, and then cover a few tips.
What is DMARC?
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is a technology that makes it easier for email senders and receivers to determine whether a message is legitimately from a sender, and what to do if it is not. In the most basic of terms, DMARC is akin to checking the credentials of your email.
DMARC is a relatively new advance in email authentication. It was created in 2011 and has since been adopted by senders and mailbox providers alike to prevent phishing and spoofing. Return Path was a founding contributor of the DMARC framework and we’re proud to have been involved from the very beginning.
Having a DMARC record for your email marketing efforts ensures that legitimate email is properly authenticating against established set standards, and that fraudulent activity appearing to come from domains under the organization’s control (your active sending domains, non-sending domains, and defensively registered domains) is blocked. Two key values of DMARC are domain alignment and reporting.
The alignment feature prevents spoofing of the “header from” address by:
Matching the “header from” domain name with the “envelope from” domain name used during an SPF check, and
Matching the “header from” domain name with the “d= domain name” in the DKIM signature.
Why is DMARC so important?
Implementing DMARC is the best way to defend your customers, your brand, and your employees from phishing and spoofing attacks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation considered just over 22,000 of these incidents involving US-based businesses from October 2013 to December 2016. In total, they found losses approaching $1.6 billion.
That’s roughly $500 million every year being scammed, and dollar figures involved have climbed sharply—up 2370 percent between January 2015 and December 2016. And that’s just from the online gaming reported cases.
This technology can also improve how your emails look to subscribers.
DMARC can help enable images and features from mailbox providers, such as the “from” profile image for Gmail users.
Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission found that less than 10 percent of top online US businesses use DMARC’s “reject” policy—the strongest available tool—to automatically block unauthenticated email.
The study concluded that businesses who want to stop phishing and better protect their brands should implement DMARC—and with good reason.
How does DMARC interact with SPF and DKIM?
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) make up the DMARC process.
To pass DMARC, a message must pass SPF authentication and SPF alignment and/or DKIM authentication and DKIM alignment. A message will fail DMARC if the message fails both (1) SPF or SPF alignment and (2) DKIM or DKIM alignment.
DMARC allows senders to instruct email providers on how to handle unauthenticated mail via a DMARC policy, removing any guesswork on how they should handle messages that fail DMARC authentication. Senders can choose to:
Monitor all mail, to understand their brand’s email authentication ecosystem and ensure legitimate mail is authenticating properly without interfering with the delivery of gaming messages that fail DMARC
Quarantine messages that fail DMARC (e.g., move to the spam folder)
Reject messages that fail DMARC (e.g., don’t deliver the mail at all)
Mailbox providers send regular DMARC aggregate and forensic reports back to senders, giving them visibility into what messages are authenticating, what messages are not, and why.
Why would you want to see this data? DMARC is the first and only widely deployed technology that can make the “header from” address (what users see in their email clients) trustworthy.
Not only does this help protect customers and the brand, it discourages cybercriminals who are less likely to prey on a brand with a DMARC record.
InboxingPro has built in, pre-configured templates that ensure all your outgoing email passes the validation process of DMARC, SPIF and DKIM and provides ready-made code to add to your DNS records.
We also provide detailed step by step guides and video tutorials that walk you through how to add the records to your own DNS and how to then create and validate a full DMARC LoL record
If you are yet to become a customer of InboxingPro, the following guide has been provided by our friends at Return Path where you can find lots of additional help and resources to get the most out of your email marketing efforts, click here to get further access
While the implementation process can get tricky, building your record doesn’t have to be. Follow the steps below to build your DMARC record—hopefully it will take you 15 minutes or less.
1. Implement DKIM
Contact any email related third parties that you work with (thus delegate signing to), to make sure that they support DKIM signing. Some organizations would keep separate keys (selectors) for different organizational units. You will probably also have to work with your IT and security departments to go through the following checklist:
2. Implement SPF
Properly implementing SPF will probably be the most time consuming and cumbersome part of any email authentication infrastructure implementation.
Because email was historically very simple to use and manage, and completely open from a security and access point of view, organizations didn’t enforce strict policies around who can use it and how.
This resulted in most organizations today not having a complete view of all the different sources of email, league of legends both internally and externally. The single biggest problem when implementing SPF is attempting to discover who is currently legitimately sending email on your behalf.
Things to look for:
The above list is not complete, as organizations have different environments, but should be used as a general guideline.
Once your email sources have been identified, you may want to take a step back and clean up the list. Ideally, all of your outgoing email should be delivered through your outgoing mail gateways with a few justified exceptions.
If you would like some help to set up your own DMARC records we do offer a full set up service and the cost is normally just $30
Please send your request to email@example.com and we can confirm the cost and completion time once we have access to your cpanel
If you are not already a customer and want to send emails that pass all the tests required to get more emails delivered to the inbox not the spam box look at our flagship autoresponder, InboxingPro
Choose a license based on your requirements and get started instantly getting emails delivered directly to the inbox
Is Procrastination getting in the way of your success
According to James Clear, an expert on self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research, Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. So, whether you refer to it as procrastination or akrasia or something else, it is the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Ok, definitions are great and all, but why do we procrastinate? What is going on in the brain that causes us to avoid the things we know we should be doing?
This is a good time to bring some science into our discussion. Behavioural psychology research has revealed a phenomenon called “time inconsistency,” which helps explain why procrastination seems to pull us in despite our good intentions. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.
The best way to understand this is by imagining that you have two selves: your Present Self and your Future Self. When you set goals for yourself — like losing weight or writing a book or learning a language — you are actually making plans for your Future Self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future. Researchers have found that when you think about your Future Self, it is quite easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits. The Future Self values long-term rewards.
Now unlike James, I am not an authority in any way and I struggled and still do struggle at times with procrastination in my own life, I seem to have so much to do at any one time I sometimes don’t know where to start and that can be incredibly demotivating, stressful and downright annoying!
You can find a few schools of thought about the best way to tackle Procrastination and I suppose there is no right and wrong way to deal with it but here is what I do, and it works for me
Putting a system of some sort in place is key
So first up, getting the mindset right is key to working successfully online, you can waste so much time checking your emails, Facebook, Twitter etc that days can come and go with no real results achieved so allocate a period each day to check the essential platforms like email, Facebook, or any website that you can promote using a digital marketing agency you can find online. and the turn everything off, especially the phone ping
I like to spend 5 minutes at the end of each day and set out my work for the following day, it’s a great way to start a new day with a clear concise work plan that you know can be completed in the time you have allocated
I used to sit down each day and compile a “to do” list that would finish up including everything I could think of that I needed to do and of course this never ever got completed
Now, I make sure I list only what I can achieve realistically in the time I have available the following day, this is not an overall to do list, it’s the tasks for the next day only that are important
Next allocate importance to the tasks you have listed
The most important task and the thing you do first is something that can produce a sale or generate revenue and then list in order or importance, so writing a blog post would not come before writing a broadcast email to your list that can make sales
Next allocate a time slot per task, if you are working all day you can allocate in terms of hours, if you only have a couple of hours spare adjust the time accordingly
Get a timer or alarm clock and set it to the time slots you have allocated per task
Work with no distraction for the duration of the time allocated and when the alarm rings finish
You can take it further to really regiment your day, allocate time to eat, relax, workout, whatever you want to achieve simply needs to be in the daily plan
As an example, I had put off going to the gym because of my workload but once I had applied this routine, I found I could allocate 90 minutes each morning and still manage to do more work than I had ever done previously so whilst a simple plan, it can have a massive positive affect
You will be amazed at the amount of work you can get done and once you see the results its very easy to adopt this mindset
You can find other systems or daily steps to follow and the most well know are the Ivy system
The Ivy system was developed by a man called Ivy Lee who was a highly-respected productivity consultant
Here is the system he developed in the 1920s
At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
Repeat this process every working day.
Finally, the master entrepreneur Warren Buffet also has a plan that clearly works for him, if you want to check out his system click this link
Let me know your thoughts and if you use any other system to get more things done let me know
Its always great to get feedback so leave a comment below, also remember that is very important to get enough rest, make sure you sleep with the mongolian fur pillow amazon for a few hours every day