What percent of your list is Gmail addresses? It could be 40% or more, so if you have seen your open rates drop for Gmail contacts it can be alarming and the first thing that comes to mind is usually: “are my emails getting through?” and “why is this happening now?” It’s frustrating, and usually leads to lots of questions and searching for answers.
When you notice a drop in opens and it looks like emails are not getting through the simple answer for why usually is: Gmail started flagging or blocking your emails. Now, you’ll probably say, “But, my email is not spam!” Sadly, Gmail will answer, “Well, it looks like spam to us.”
This is never a welcome scenario but also no need for panic! If you want to address this problem, you have to understand the reason why Gmail is blocking your emails in the first place and then take some action to get back on track.
In this post, we’ll share with you some tips on how to know if your emails are blocked on Gmail, the common reasons why Gmail is blocking your emails, and how to fix the problem so you can finally improve your email deliverability!
Let’s get started!
How To Know You Are Blocked on Gmail
If you are not familiar with Google’s Postmaster Tools or already using a deliverability measurement and engagement tool like InboxAlly, then let’s start here. Using Google’s own tools to check your deliverability is a great first step to see what deliverability looks like from their perspective. Luckily it only takes a few minutes to set up and is a must have tool if you send a large volume of email to Gmail users. You can use Google Postmaster Tools as part of your regular workflow to analyze your email performance and help monitor deliverability issues.
What are Postmaster Tools?
Google’s Postmaster tools are free online tools that you can use to track your domain reputation, deliverability and spam rate, email authentication, and other performance data. Simply put, Postmaster tools are a great way to find out how well your emails are delivering as well as diagnosing and correcting deliverability issues for Gmail.
How to Setup Google Postmaster Tools
Postmaster Tools are configured per domain, and require you to add and verify each sender domain in order to provide access to your email performance analytics. Open up postmaster.google.com to get started and follow the steps there.
Now that you can measure the problem, let’s figure out how you got there and how to fix it.
10 Reasons Why Your Emails Get Blocked on Gmail
1. You Have Spammy Looking Content
One top reason why your emails are being filtered on Gmail is that it has spammy-looking content.
Gmail recognizes spam at first sight through contextual and stylistic filtering. Obvious checks include if: the subject lines are typewritten in ALL CAPS, the content contains too much bold text and large font size, there are misspelled words in the subject, and in general there is overly salesish or promotional content.
The links included in your emails are also a big factor. Most marketing emails contain links in the body of the email to drive traffic to a landing page, a blog, or website and we get that.
But just because the links are from your own domain doesn’t mean Gmail will not mark it as suspicious.
Remember that links in the email body can be a cause of email blocking. Gmail may mark an email as spam because if it believes the link is not trustworthy. Experiment with and without certain links in order to find out if the number of links or a specific link is a primary signal for getting flagged as spam. Also, check out a tool like mail-tester.com for a quick test on the spammyness of your emails.
2. There’s a Sudden Change in Your Email Volume
If your email volume to Gmail has suddenly increased, then it could be another reason why your emails get blocked.
Anytime your email volume increases dramatically, you may appear like a spammer and Gmail will treat your emails as such.
Remember that a huge number of emails to your recipient's email address also require a high level of scrutiny.
So, if you really have to increase your typical volume, we suggest you do it gradually and distribute the new emails over a certain period of time rather than all at once.
That way, you will not raise flags for having an erratic or inconsistent sending volume and mailbox providers will not see an unusual send rate of unsolicited mail originating from your IP address.
To avoid delivery issues, we also encourage you to read Google’s Bulk Sender Guidelines and always create a warm-up schedule if you’ll be sending emails from a new IP address.
3. You Have a Low Sender Score
Every Internet Service Provider (ISP) has the opportunity to aggregate by domain and IP emails statistics which are then centralized and used to build a metric called a Sender Score. Your overall Sender Score gets built over time from this data as well as other data like spam complaints, industry blacklists, and more.
This is a crucial factor in your email deliverability. If you have a high sender score, it is more likely that an ISP will deliver your email to the inboxes of your target audience (Gmail users) on their network.
However, if you have a low sender score on an ISP then that email message may end in the spam folder or be outright rejected.
There are various factors that go into determining your email sender reputation, including the number of emails you are sending as an organization, the number of recipients that have marked your email as spam, the number of your emails that bounced because they were sent for other reasons or to unknown Gmail users, the number of recipients that open, forward, reply to, or deleted your messages, and the number of people who unsubscribed from your email list.
4. Your Server’s IP Address is on a Suspended List
Another common reason why Gmail is blocking your emails is that you are sending from an IP address that is publicly blacklisted.
It’s easy to get this error if you are sending an email using a shared IP address with a poor reputation.
Once the IP address or domain is on an IP suspended list or blacklist, you will see a surge in hard bounces and spam complaints. All these will affect your brand reputation and open rates.
If you find yourself in this situation or want to avoid ever getting here, you may want to check out email deliverability tools, such as InboxAlly, to repair and maintain your reputation. These tools will help you keep landing in subscribers’ inboxes and improve your open rates.
5. You are Repeatedly Sending Emails to Invalid Email Addresses
Repeatedly sending too many emails to invalid email addresses leads to email deliverability issues and you may be considered by Gmail as a spammer. That is why it is important that you observe good email list hygiene.
It means you should verify your email list every now and then. Check for undeliverable, invalid email addresses before sending your email campaign.
Once the email is sent, you can use a bounce handler to check your mailbox if there are bounced emails.
And if there are, remove these bounces from your email list. Also, familiarize yourself with Bulk Email Senders Guidelines as well and manage your unsubscribe requests.
6. You’re Getting High Spam Complaints
There is no denying that spam complaints hurt your sender’s reputation score. Consequently, this affects your email deliverability.
But don’t panic yet if someone flagged your email as spam. You’re not the only email marketing company that experienced this. Just take this as a sign that not everything is fine in your email campaign.
7. You are Delivering Content That No One Wants
As you review your content, ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?” This means you should be looking at your email from the perspective of your recipients or subscribers and not from your own.
Once they receive it, will it teach them something new? Are your subscribers looking forward to receiving your message? Does the content make their life easier? Or perhaps if spam complaints have recently increased, has the value or quality of your content slipped?
You see, there are just too many factors to consider. To know that your content is something your audience wants, find a friend within your target market. Then, show them your email and ask them if it is something they would want to read or receive.
8. You Have Incorrect DNS Settings
Take note that Gmail expects your email domain to resolve DNS records for the following settings: DMARC, DKIM, and SPF. If Gmail blocks your emails but you have a good reputation or content, then the cause could be your DNS settings.
9. You Have High Bounce Rates
Another answer to your question “why is Gmail blocking my emails?” is because you may have high bounce rates.
This refers to the percentage of email addresses (of Gmail users) in your subscriber list that did not receive your mail message as it was returned by their mail servers.
Generally, if you have above a 2% bounce rate, Gmail may block your emails.
10. You’re Not Following Gmail’s Best Practices
It's worth reminding you how useful Google’s own tools are in order to make sure you are following best practices.
Make sure to check out Gmail’s Postmaster Tools to see its metrics on spam rate, feedback loop, reputation, and other parameters to help you know if you are following Gmail’s best practices and will help you fix spam filter issues.
How to Fix The Problem:
Steps on How to Prevent Emails from Going to Spam Folder
- Ask Gmail Users/ Recipient To Add Your Domain Name. Emails can be rejected if the sending server's IP address is not on the recipient’s allowed list. To help, you can try and request your subscribers to add you as a contact so you are automatically added to the allowlist as a sender.
- Run Spam Filtering and Inbox Placement Tests Before Sending Your Campaign. The easiest method to know how your email is treated and to prevent it from going to the spam folder is to run a spam filter and an inbox placement test before you send your real email marketing campaign. This allows you to see how the message is delivered to internet providers, including Gmail.
- Make Sure All Email Addresses in Your Email List are Valid. One of the most dependable ways to fix Gmail blocking problems is to verify the email addresses within your email list. If possible, verify that these emails are valid first before you even add them to your list to avoid hard email bounces.
- Set Up an SPF (Sender Policy Framework). SPF is an email authentication mechanism, which prevents email spoofing. SPF along with DKIM makes up the two required authentication settings that need to appear in your DNS zone settings. If you set up an SPF record, you can find the IP addresses that are authorized to send emails on behalf of your (sending) domain.
- Send Emails in a Consistent Volume. Mailbox providers reward predictability. Avoid sending all your messages at once. If possible, spread out your emails and try to maintain a predictable volume and pattern.
Gmail in their effort to stop spam and phishing emails, have implemented strict security measures. Those same security features require email marketers to raise the bar on their sending practices in order to ensure reaching subscribers’ inboxes.
To save you from Gmail blocking issues, the general rule is to make sure that your content is relevant to your recipients, use an email service provider with a good reputation, and follow Gmail’s best practices.
We hope you find these tips helpful so you can finally deliver emails to your Gmail subscribers.