A new tool from Gmail lets you see what Gmail and its users think of your email based on a reputation score and spam reporting levels. Follow Tim Watson's tutorial for how to use it.

It’s no secret to email marketers that the major ISPs create reputation scores for email senders and that a good reputation is fundamental to getting delivered to the inbox. Until now you had no way of knowing your Gmail reputation score. Getting to the inbox has felt like ten pin bowling with a curtain in front of the pins. But over the summer Gmail made available a free tool for senders to obtain data on their own reputation. Finally you can know what Gmail users think of your email. I’ll cover in a minute how to sign up to see your own stats, but first a quick summary of why you’ll want to do this. Access gives you reports for…

Plain text has proven impressively durable despite marketers preference for HTML

When it comes to email marketing, there’s only a few Email metrics that all marketers focus on: open rates and clickthroughs (although they should consider more, like the value generated). Without positive levels of KPIs, marketers often feel like they have wasted time and effort creating an email that no one has seen or interacted with, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. This is why marketers are constantly trying to find ways to improve on their email marketing campaigns in the hope that something – be it a subject line, content piece, image choice or header wording – will make a difference. But something that marketers generally don’t seem to change is the format of their email. Comfortable in the flashy world of HTML email design, marketers may be…

Surprisingly plain text often out performs HTML Emails

When it comes to email marketing, there’s only a few metrics that marketers really focus on: open rates and clickthroughs. Without positive levels of these, marketers often feel like they have wasted time and effort creating an email that no one has seen or interacted with, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. This is why marketers are constantly trying to find ways to improve on their email marketing campaigns in the hope that something – be it a subject line, content piece, image choice or header wording – will make a difference. But something that marketers generally don’t seem to change is the format of their email. Comfortable in the flashy world of HTML email design, marketers may be missing one very important point – the plain-text email usually performs better.

Which has better deliverability?

The plain-text vs. HTML debate is one that has been underway…

A briefing and ressearch on the impact of Google's new Tabbed Inbox

December 2013 update: Return Path have released a comprehensive study evaluating the impact of Gmail's tabbed inbox. We have added it to the end of Tim's post to enable readers to compare their open and delivery rates in Gmail. In August 2013, Google made two important changes to the Gmail inbox that all email marketers need to understand.

What has changed?

The two changes that Google have made are distinct, but have been introduced together. 1. Tabs added to the inbox separating promotional, social updates and other email 2. Ads that look like emails may be placed at the top of the promotional tab These changes are being automatically rolled out to all Gmail users. As Gmail users access their inbox they will see this popup to inform them about the inbox change: Then the Gmail web interface looks…

An introduction to factors that affect email deliverability and steps you can take to improve inbox delivery

When it comes to getting your emails into the inbox aka email deliverability, reputation is everything. In an ideal world, every email marketer would have good intentions, and there would be no need for email providers like Hotmail or Gmail to block any emails.

The reality however is that 70 percent of all emails that are sent worldwide is spam. Email providers have trust issues when it comes to parties that send a large amount of emails, and have every reason to.

To avoid being a "false positive" where your legitimate marketing mail is viewed as spam, there are plenty of techniques that help you gain trust of the various email providers and build a good email reputation. I will give an overview of these in this post.

What is email reputation…

Keep calm and keep mailing...

[caption id="attachment_29574" align="alignright" width="269"] Webmail clients from Email Client Market Share (Litmus)[/caption]

Like a lot of people of a certain age and disposition, I draw my wisdom from the novels of Douglas Adams.

For example, the front cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has practical advice for many marketing situations. It says:

"Don't panic"

This comes to mind whenever one of the webmail services changes something.

Each such change brings forward a host of virtual "the end is nigh" placards, with posts and articles proclaiming the Hotmail sweep feature, Gmail's priority inbox, Gmail's tabs might be the meteor that sends email marketing into extinction.

Realise the sky (probably) isn't falling

None of the numerous historical changes to webmail interfaces have significantly hurt the long-term success of email marketing.

Email marketing is in a very healthy state right now: the last…

5 actions to minimise the impact of an address change

In my last post I summarized 9 common headaches to watch for when you change email service provider. This time I'm drilling down into the first of these, guidance to manage changing your from email address. This guidance is valid too for other occasions when you change your from email address. Such as a change in branding, company mergers and acquisitions, moving transaction emails from your eCommerce system to your marketing system, or simply sorting out some historical oddities in your identity. Your from email details are made up of the from display name and from address, such as 'Acme Offer <[email protected]>'. The display name is 'Acme Offer' and from email address [email protected] In this post I'm concentrating on deliverability issues connected with change of email address, rather than consideration of what makes effective from email information, as this is a subject…

New email delivery survey shows surprisingly poor inbox delivery

Importance: [rating=3] Recommended link: Return Path H1 2011 worldwide Email delivery review, Sept 2011

Our commentary on survey results

Although the delivery rate provided by email marketing tools is the percentage of emails that didn’t bounce. According to Tim Watson If you are emailing at least weekly to each email address on your customer base and you have good list hygiene practices in place then your delivery rate should be over 98%, that is less than 2% of emails sent are bounced. But, and it’s a big but, delivery rate isn’t the same as inbox delivery and this survey shows how real inbox delivery is much lower – around 81% on average – this is really “money you’re leaving on the table”, so it shows why email delivery is worth taking seriously. The recent survey shows that just over 3/4 emails get through to…

Avoiding the accidental reasons why your marketing emails may not get through

The surprising thing about email deliverability is there are some common causes that are often innocent mistakes and can be avoided. The first two posts in this series covered how ISPs filter and how to monitor your deliverability. In this post I'm covering some of the common issues I've seen happen, although they're not all obvious. I'll also give some tips on how they can be avoided.

Reason 1 Lack of transparency

High spam complaint levels occur when subscriber expectation is not managed correctly. This is either due to a lack of transparency about emails that will be sent or by setting an expectation and not adhering to it. Typically this happens when an email address is provided for a specific purpose such as to get a quote, make a purchase, obtain a whitepaper, enter a competition or to create a…

Part 2 in Tim Watson's Email Delivery improvement series

You might think your delivery rate is a measure of deliverability... That would be a reasonable assumption, when you see the measure in your reports. Confusing, yes?! So, in this, part 2 of my three part series, I will show how you can monitor your deliverability. In Part 1, I covered the criteria ISPs use to filter email. The delivery rate as provided by email marketing tools is the percentage of emails that didn't bounce. If you are emailing at least weekly to each email address on your customer base and you have good list hygiene practices in place then your delivery rate should be over 98%, that is less than 2% of emails sent are bounced. But delivery rate isn't the same as inbox delivery, ReturnPath have recently reported an average inbox placement as low 88%, even when the mailer has a…