Partner Resources

Understanding Graymail

Email Design and Engagement

In the not so distant past, email delivery involved top-secret filtering tools specific to each ISP (Internet Service Provider) and ESP (Email Service Provider). As ISPs have grown more sophisticated and confident in fighting spam, they’ve also begun to address the issue of helping their users manage their inbox experience. All are incorporating more engagement metrics in their filtering such as:

  • Are readers interacting with the email - opening/clicking?
  • Moving it to a special folder?
  • Do they delete it right after receiving it or do they spend some time with the content, re-reading it more than once?
  • Do they forward it to their friends?
  • Do they reply to the email sender?

Check your email content

Getting your readers to interact with your email requires some dedication. You need to make sure you’re sending information your subscribers want and when they want to read it. Some of this will require testing to see what your subscribers respond to best, and some you can discover from reporting stats.

Content features

Some ISPs are able to narrow the cause of complaints down to a repeated piece of text in an email sent from different sources. Sometimes a single link or domain in the email will trigger spam filtering because that element has been too often associated with complaints from emails.

To avoid having your email sent to spam for content, keep these tips in mind:

  • Test your emails’ visual look. Many readers won’t see images in your email by default (they have to opt to “display images”); make sure your email looks good even without images. Use alt text on images so your readers have information before they’re turned on.
  • Link to domains, not IP addresses. And link directly to reputable sites only.
  • Set expectations and meet them. Send a welcome email to new subscribers with a preview of what they should expect, as well as the frequency you’ll be sending that content. Stick to only mailing what you promised your subscriber - A change in email frequency is generally a trigger for complaints due to an unexpected increase.
  • Be relevant. Don’t send the same content over and over or your engagement can drop off. Keep subscribers engaged and looking forward to your email.
  • Review reporting for spikes or changes in unsubscribe activity; this could indicate a problem with your mail plan.

To get your email delivered to the inbox the important things to remember are to start with a solid, opted in list, keep your readers coming back for more with interesting and relevant content, and make sure you’ve tested and vetted all your images and links. If you’ve done that, you can hit send with confidence that your readers should see your email – in the inbox!

Get more marketing tips and advice on our VR Marketing blog.