Gmail Spam Filters: What They Mean for Email Marketers

Are Gmail spam filters preventing your email marketing messages from reaching the inbox of your most loyal, engaged, and valuable subscribers?

If your emails are being trapped by Gmail spam filters, there’s no doubt you want to know the reason why so you can boost your deliverability closer to 100%. While it’s frustrating to find your emails in the spam folder, Gmail does offer a way for you to understand why they ended up there.

All you have to do is open the email in your spam folder. Gmail will list one of seven reasons it marked your message as spam.

Gmail Spam Filters

These are the top reasons Gmail spam filters will flag your email:

1. We’ve found that lots of messages from this email address are spam.

2. It’s similar to messages that were identified as spam in the past.

3. This message contains content that’s typically used in spam messages.

4. This message was likely forged and did not originate from your account.

5. This message may not have been sent by the email address it says it’s sent by.

6. Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.

7. Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link.

Let’s take a brief look at what each might mean for your email marketing program.

Reputation Problems

These two messages indicate that you have a reputation problem. In other words, a lot of people are marking your messages as spam:

1. We’ve found that lots of messages from this email address are spam.

2. It’s similar to messages that were identified as spam in the past.

If your email is flagged with either of these messages, your reputation is in the trash. You need to consider launching an immediate course correction with a re-engagement campaign, pruning your list of bad or non-responsive email accounts, and generally improving your reputation among subscribers.

It could be the Gmail spam filter is trapping your email because of deceptive subject lines. Maybe it’s because your unsubscribe link is so small or so hard to find that it’s easier for subscribers to mark your message as spam.

Bottom line: You need to take a hard look at the copy and design of your emails to make sure it’s going above and beyond deliverability best practices. Crank up your value, remove bad subscribers, and dig in for long-term reputation recovery.

Authentication Problems

These two messages indicate there’s an authentication problem with your email service provider and your account:

1. This message was likely forged and did not originate from your account.

2. This message may not have been sent by the email address it says it’s sent by.

There’s a good chance your DNS records aren’t set up correctly. The alternate reason for Gmail spam filters flagging your email for these reasons is you’re not using a Sender ID, SPF, and other common email authentication mechanisms to certify you are who you say you are.

Fix those problems, and your messages should stop getting flagged for these criteria over time.

Content Problems

This Gmail spam filter reason indicates there are major issues with your content:

1. This message contains content that’s typically used in spam messages.

Gmail has judged the content in your email as not valuable or containing content that is such a hard sell it triggers Google’s content-based filters. This includes all-image emails or overuse of salesy words and phrases. You must balance your promotional copy with legitimate editorial content to correct this.

It’s about changing your strategy from sending content you want subscribers to see, to sending them content they actually want to see. When people receive content that’s valuable — personalized to their lifestyle and preferences — they’ll stop flagging your email marketing as spam.

Serious Content Problems

There are two Gmail spam filters that could indicate a much more serious problem is occurring:

1. Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.

2. Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link.

Generally, these are reserved for messages that are phishing scams. If your email marketing is being flagged because of either of these two messages, you have a critical problem. Chances are, someone has hacked into your server or account on your email service provider (a case for using strong passwords) and is sending scam emails from it.

Contact your IT administrator or email service provider account manager immediately to get help and correct the problem immediately.

Get Deliverability Help

If you don’t already have one, consider setting up a Gmail account and subscribing to your own email marketing so you have access to these kinds of spam reporting mechanisms. Email marketers can benefit from this level of transparency and make immediate updates to prevent it from happening again.

Email marketing leans heavily on a healthy deliverability score in order to succeed. That means you have to pay close attention to Gmail spam filters, as well as other ISP spams warnings. They can make or break the impact of your messages.

If you need help addressing any of these or other deliverability issues, check out our complete guide that covers this complex topic. You can also reach out to our deliverability experts who are experienced and dedicated to making sure every message lands in the inbox every time.

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