Gmail’s Big Flex On Prompted Unsubscribes

Hey, looks like I’m extremely late to the party. After I published this, a far more astute observer pointed out in EmailGeeks that the change was announced as a part of the larger update that Gmail rolled out in April – of 2018!

For some years now, Gmail has offered a prompted unsubscribe feature based on the presence and method of the List-unsubscribe header, and on sender reputation. The prompt would appear in the chrome of the client interface above an individual marketing message.

Reactions from senders were mixed when it was first rolled out. On the plus side, it arguably pre-empts some portion of spam complaints that might be more accurately characterized as malformed unsubscribe requests. On the minus side, senders generally prefer larger lists, even where significant chunks of them are inflated with unengaged recipients.

For the first time yesterday, I observed that Gmail has taken the functionality and made it much more robust. I’ve highlighted a pair of very interesting changes in the mobile screenshot below: Continue reading

The Skinny Talks Gmail and Deliverability on the Salesforce Blog

gmail

I recently did a Q&A session with the Salesforce Core team about deliverability, and it was published today on the blog. It’s a bit remedial because it’s geared to a fairly broad audience, but I’m pleased with the results. Continue reading

Three Months of “Inbox by Google” Usage Data

Earlier this week, researchers from Google shared an infographic showing some top line data on how and where recipients are using the new Inbox by Google to manage tasks based on their Gmail inbox. There are a couple of numbers in here that should make senders sit up and take notice.

Inbox by Google Infographic

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Updates to Gmail’s Inbox Ads

Once the initial furor over the appearance of Gmail’s new ads in the Promotions tab died down, the ads themselves seem to die down, too. Until today, I hadn’t seen any of the new, email-like promotions appearing in my accounts for what must be at least two months. They were back this morning, and with a new and interesting change:

Gmail's reformatted inbox ads in the Promotions tab

The ads now feature a graphical element in the preview pane that wasn’t there before. One of the many complaints from senders and marketers about the ads when they were first introduced is that they too much resembled actual e-mail, and therefore were an attempt to deceive recipients. Indeed, some marketers suggested in semi-private forums that Gmail should be sued for CAN SPAM violations in a class action (never minding that senders have no standing under the law). Continue reading

Are the New Gmail Inbox Ads Subject to CAN SPAM?

The new tabbed Gmail interface and the new ads that come with it has ruffled the feathers of many marketers and senders for a variety of reasons. In the course of the discussion of those reasons arises an interesting question:  are the new ads subject to CAN SPAM requirements?

Possibly: they are presented in the inbox in a manner that very much resembles all of the other e-mail messages you’d expect to find there. Recipients can interact with the ads using the same Gmail interface metaphors as any other e-mail message received in Gmail. Viewers can even forward, “Star” and dismiss the new ads.

Possibly not: they are not actually e-mail messages – they’re web-based advertisements formatted and presented in such a way as to closely resemble actual e-mail messages, but are otherwise very much like the ones Gmail users are accustomed to seeing to the right and above the inbox. There’s even some evidence to suggest that the new ads employ the same engine as the ordinary Gmail display ads to select and present those that Google deems a viewer is most likely to click. Continue reading

A Glimpse Beneath the Kimono

For all of the vast resources the big four free inbox providers (Yahoo!, AOL, Gmail and MSN/Live/Hotmail) have expended over the decades to tweak, test and improve their filtering and delivery processes, they’ve been remarkably quiet about it. But their reticence is for good reason; if they were to publish the juicy details, they’d be undermining their own efforts, as spammers would surely make use of the information to evade filtering changes almost as soon as they are implemented.

So when a major inbox provider actually publishes specific details about how they make delivery decisions – as Gmail recently did in a paper explaining how Priority Inbox works – it creates a splash in the deliverability pond.

In January, Google posted on one of its research blogs a four page document containing the mathematical algorithms Gmail employs to decide how important any particular message is to its recipient by gauging the probability that the recipient will act quickly on the message.

It’s nothing short of a mathematical model of recipient engagement.

The real utility of the paper, in my opinion, is that it gives senders a clearer picture of what engaging e-mail looks like to the ISPs. I propose that Priority Inbox is a reasonable proxy for any recipient domain where it comes to measuring engagement. Senders who test and optimize their mail for preferred placement in the Gmail Priority Inbox should see gains in deliverability most anywhere else.

So what does engaging e-mail look like to Gmail? I’m not mathematically savvy enough to evaluate the algorithms in the paper, but the author provides some useful narrative:

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Half-True Predictions

The thought of blogging predictions for the New Year in Deliverability makes me cringe. I’m not exactly sure why; it may have something to do with the fact that everyone else has already done it – we’ve had a bumper crop so far this year. Mostly, I think, I’d hate to be proven wrong later. So, instead of offering my own predictions (which would doubtlessly sound much like anyone else’s), I’d like to take a look at two different trends in deliverability that came only half-true in 2010, but that are still worth your time to continue to watch in 2011. The two trends are Domain Reputation and Engagement Metrics.

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