Deliverability is something all email marketers work to perfect. What good is your message if it never lands in the intended inbox? Following certain standards ensures you’ll achieve high deliverability, but some email service providers (ESPs) go above and beyond the typical requirements in order to protect their users.
Gmail is one of those providers. It’s also the most popular ESP, which presents a significant challenge for healthcare marketers wanting to get their communications in the hands of healthcare providers.
Filtered Out: Gmail’s Ever-Changing Content Filters
You should spam test your subject line, preheader, and content for each and every deployment.
Gmail is constantly changing its content filters. Unlike most other commercial ESPs that have static filters, Gmail often changes filters as frequently as on the hour. Given this strict structure, it’s safe to say a “bad” email will never get delivered. On the other hand, a really great email—one that’s seen previous interaction with recipients—is likely the only way your communications will make it safely into a Gmail inbox.
Examples of a bad email include using known spam terms and phrases, broken and unapproved code, blacklisted links and sites, and a poor quality database, as well as having a negative sender reputation. You should spam test your subject line, preheader, and content for each and every deployment and also render test emails to ensure they display properly. Taking these steps protects your emails from being filtered out.
The Critical Nature of Initial Engagement
An additional challenge is that Gmail uses what’s called a “relational filtering and delivery” algorithm, which means it references past behavior from the sending domain to determine if the sender and recipient have engaged in the past. This is why it’s so imperative to get that first interaction with your audience by providing meaningful, timely, and compelling information. One way to mitigate this issue is to have both a dedicated sending domain and IP address for your Gmail audience.
Promotions vs. Primary
While landing in the primary folder of a Gmail inbox isn’t easy, it’s not impossible.
While it may not seem as debilitating as the other potential issues, being sent to the Gmail “promotions” folder can pose a significant detriment to your campaigns. Engagement isn’t as likely, even though in technical terms, your email has been “inboxed.” Ending up in the promotions folder may also misrepresent deliverability metrics, leading you to believe your deployment performed better than it actually did.
To prevent your emails from being relegated to the promotions tab, there are a few things to know:
- Hidden preheaders (e.g. using HTML or CSS to hide text) will land your email in the promotions folder, unless you have a really positive relationship with the recipient.
- If you have too many different tracking pixels (over five or six), it’s likely you’ll end up in promotions.
- Sending high-quality content to recipients who want to hear from you and have opted in to receive your messages provide a greater likelihood your emails will be sent to the primary folder.
Be Informed, Be Proactive
In the past, healthcare marketers tended to simply ignore Gmail because it can be so problematic (and thus time-consuming) on top of the already-stringent rules surrounding medical marketing. That’s no longer an option, with more than 1.5 billion Gmail users worldwide—that’s one active Gmail account for every five people on the planet.
While making it to the primary folder of a Gmail inbox isn’t easy, it’s not impossible. By being proactive and prepared with these strategies, you can make a considerable impact on Gmail deliverability.