Spam Folder: Gmail and Outlook
Two best practices for preventing emails from going into the spam folder in Gmail are customizing and personalizing the subject line and avoiding phrases, words, and images that activate spam filters. In Outlook, these are including a physical address, opt-out option, and using an up-to-date email list. These and other findings have been listed below.
Best Practices for Preventing Emails from Going into the Spam Folder in Gmail
1. Customizing and Personalizing the Subject Line
- Personalizing and customizing the email's subject line raises the opening and replying rates, making it unlikely that the ISP will brand emails as spam.
- This has been identified as a best practice because Google recommends that messages be personal to make emails avoid spam filters, increasing their chances of landing in Gmail's primary inbox.
- The creation of a personal message can involve the use of the customer's name or relying on information obtained from previous interactions that the recipient has had with the sender. Gmail's algorithm favors unique messages.
- The IP reputation of the sender can be improved by getting more recipients to open the emails.
- Emails that mention the recipient's name in the subject catch the reader's attention as they scan through their emails.
- It is also important to avoid capital letters and exclamation marks in the subject line to evade spam filters.
2. Avoid Words and Images that Activate Spam Filters
- It is important to use the right phrases and words in emails to ensure that they make it through spam filters. This is a best practice because words and phrases are important components in emails that are targeted by Gmail's spam filters.
- Emails should have natural-sounding language that is not similar to spammer campaigns. This is because spam filters target emails that have suspicious wording and phrasing, diverting them into spam folders.
- This can involve avoiding words and phrases such as "urgent," "please read," "limited time only," and "free gift" since these are designated as bait.
- It is also necessary to create a balance between the images and text since Gmail's spam filters interpret images as blank spaces. If a message is sent with one image and no text, the filters consider it as an empty email, sending it to the spam folder. The image-to-text ratio should be kept low.
- Other best practices include the use of a few exclamation points, avoiding text that is in red and avoiding writing in all caps.
Domain Authentication Methods for Gmail
1. SPF Record
- SPF records provide protection for email spoofing by preventing incidences whereby forged emails appear to have been sent from your domain.
- Adding a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record to the domain host helps the recipients understand where the emails from your domain should come from and know that they are not spoofed.
- The SPF TXT record provides a list of all the mail servers that can "send email from your domain." Messages that are sent from a server that is not contained in the record may be considered as spam by the recipients' servers.
- The process for adding an SPF TXT record to the domain host is:
- First, sign in to the domain account through the domain host as opposed to the Google Admin console.
- Visit the page that allows updating the domain's DNS records. It could go by the names "DNS management, advanced settings, or name server management."
- Find the TXT records to confirm whether the domain already has an SPF record.
- The record begins with "v=spf1."
- Next, remove the SPF record if the domain already has one. If it does not have one, proceed with the next steps.
- The TXT record can then be created with the following values:
- The record should then be saved and it becomes effective within 48 hours.
- If the domain was bought from a Google partner such as eNon.com and GoDaddy.com when signing up for G Suite, it might not be necessary to add an SPF record.
2. DKIM Signing
- The recipients' servers rely on the DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) for verification that the message was really sent by the domain's owner. This is a digital signature that is added to emails that are sent from a specific email address.
- This is not similar to signatures that are embedded at the bottom of corporate emails. Recipients cannot see them but their servers can identify the DKIM as random characters that are hidden in the email's source code.
- If the domain was provided by a Google partner, there is no need to generate the domain key as Gmail automatically does this.
- The process for generating the DKIM for outgoing emails is given below:
- First, sign in to the Google Admin console as a super administrator.
- On the Admin console Home page, navigate to apps and select Gmail then click on authenticate email.
- The primary domain is selected by default but another domain should be selected, where DKIM will be used.
- After clicking on "Generate new record," you can then select the DKIM key length which can be either 2048 or 1024 bits.
- A prefix selector can then be created, with the default for Gmail being google.
- The key can then be generated and turned on for signing.
3. DMARC Record
- Spammers may forge emails to make it appear like they come from your domain. When a domain is then used to send spam mail, its quality can be affected negatively. Recipients getting forged emails can consistently mark them as spam, affecting valid messages that are sent from the domain.
- Gmail uses "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)" to avoid this kind of spam. Gmail can then handle emails that seem to come from your domain but are spam.
- Through DMARC, senders and recipients verify incoming messages after authenticating senders' domains. It can also define the actions that will be taken on suspicious messages. The DMARC check is automatically done by Gmail, meaning that the recipients do not have to do anything.
- The steps for turning on DMARC have been provided here.
Best Practices for Preventing Emails from Going into the Spam Folder in Outlook
1. Include a Physical Address in the Email and an Opt-Out Option
- When sending emails that are related to marketing or meant to promote products (such as the children's math program), it is important to include a physical address.
- This has been identified as a best practice since the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act makes this a legal requirement. The law sets rules for email messages whose purpose is to promote a commercial product or service. All emails of this kind must comply with the law.
- If a sender does not include a physical address and an unsubscribe link in their email, it is not likely to successfully pass through the spam filters. Email recipients need to know where you are located and they must be made aware of how to opt-out of such emails in the future.
- A visible and easy to see opt-out link or button should be included in the email.
- The law was enacted in an effort to decrease spam levels and make sure that customers are aware of the person who is sending them commercial messages.
2. Use an Up-to-Date Email List
- Over time, the email recipients may change their email addresses, stop using their accounts, or become temporarily inactive. Sending emails to inactive addresses can lead to emails being marked as spam.
- It, is, therefore, important to evaluate the emails of recipients who do not engage with you regularly.
- Email address confirmation is an important technique to prevent sending messages to dormant and old addresses.
- Before sending content or invitations to people who have signed up, senders can use email verification services such as QuickEmailVerification to confirm that each address is valid and active. If the email is sent to a dormant address, it can reduce the sender's reputation, making their emails automatically go into the spam folder.
- This has been identified as a best practice because it has been mentioned in multiple articles. Large reputable companies such as Accenture, Sony, IBM, and PwC also rely on email verification services.
- Regularly reviewing the email list ensures that it remains healthy in the long term. Once the sender develops credibility, their emails can stay out of the spam folder and get delivered to the inbox.