Marketers are always seeking a way to get into the inbox faster and a way around the obstacles that are preventing us from doing this. Reputation has become one of the most important factors of inbox placement but Gmail seems to have gone one step further. Over the past year, marketers have seen a small percentage of their email marketing campaigns have spam folder placement issues on Gmail. This specifically occurs during their first few sends after having just moved to a new subdomain. In most cases, the issue will resolve by itself without the client needing to take any action. They just need to send from the new subdomain several times and continue to follow best practices. We’ve learned this issue occurs when Gmail is unfamiliar with the new subdomain and wants to “feel it out” to determine whether it's a real marketer or a spammer. When using a new subdomain with a good reputation, most clients will see immediate inbox placement; however, some will see half their normal open rates to Gmail for their first several sends before quickly recovering to normal open rates. These are usually the two eventual outcomes we see:

  1. If Gmail sees good engagement (high opens, low complaints), emails will quickly all move to the inbox.
  2. If Gmail sees low engagement (weak opens, high complaints), emails will continue to be placed in the spam folder.
While these are the most common outcomes, we have seen a client whose new subdomain (example @test.com vs. email.test.com) just will not get them into Gmail's inbox. Extra work is then needed to determine what the issue may be. Invariably, it’s because of the sending domain's reputation and/or the domains in the body of the email. In these circumstances, extra steps may be required to get the client’s troubled domain back into the inbox, such as:
  • Send to your most engaged lists first, to show Gmail you are indeed a legitimate marketer.
  • Use the subdomain you were using at your previous provider (if you had one).
  • Use the same domain in the “from“ as the sender so that all domains match in the header and your new subdomain is in the “from” address. Keeping the domains consistent in the header encourages recipients to trust who the email is coming from.
  • Set up correct “authentication” so the emails are signing with the valid authentication methods (DKIM) that Gmail looks for.
Keep in mind that you cannot use a subdomain in two places. If a subdomain was used at a previous service provider, it cannot be used at a new provider until it is unplugged from the previous location and plugged back in with the new provider.