Everyday I delete around 100-150 emails from my inbox. These include emails from eCommerce sites, some offline stores, restaurant deals, group discussions or forums that I had subscribed to at some point of time (which I don’t remember when!). I was doing the same last day when my colleague came up and said “Ah! deleting the graymail, eh?”

Graymail? That was a new term for me. She said the term and left me with dozens of questions about Graymail. My research started and I figured out this is a term that we marketers don’t use frequently, but it is something we face everyday.

What is a Graymail?

Graymail is an email that you opted in to receive, but you don’t really want it in your inbox. For instance, last week I went shopping to a retail store. When I reached the billing counter, the person asked for my phone number and email ID before telling me the final amount. And that’s how I was opted in to their email list. Now, I love their collection but having a regular email updates is not what I really like. These types of emails are typically categorised as Graymails. The most important fact to understand here is:

The engagement level of this graymail is very less, as most people don’t want these emails.

Graymails are usually those emails that you had opted in but after a certain time you get weary of them. Hence, you stop engaging with these emails.

ISPs detect these emails as graymails based on the lack of engagement. For instance, if you’ve opened the first two emails from a retailer and then never engaged with the next 50 or so emails, ISPs will definitely mark these emails as Graymails.

ISPs track your engagement with the emails you receive. It gets smarter with its categorization based on the actions of all recipients across emails sent from a particular domain.

That is specifically why these emails are never tagged as SPAM. There is a huge difference.

A Graymail is different from a spam email

The content of a graymail at times replicate spams where a recipient marks such an email as spam out of annoyance. However, these emails fail to meet the legal definitions of spams.

Graymail is not same as Graylisting.

What is Graylisting?

At times, ISPs may not deliver an entire email batch at once if they find the sender’s IP suspicious or not trustworthy. This can happen when you get a new dedicated IP and send out an email campaign of say 15,000 emails. The ISPs may accept some emails while others can be graylisted. They send the remaining when they are sure that it is safe to deliver messages from your IP.

So, where do these graymails get delivered, if not the spam or junk folders?

You already know about Gmail’s Priority Inbox, right? Well, this is Gmail’s product to handle graymails. In this case, such emails get delivered to the promotional tab where they may not get seen.

Many companies have created products to specifically handle graymails. Hotmail itself coined the term Graymail and created a product to tackle such emails. Infact, Hotmail ran a series of YouTube videos with the tagline “Conquer your Gramails”, and they are just so relatable. For instance, check one of the videos “Messenger Boys“.

However, whether you like it or not, no businesses will want their emails to become graymails. Rather, the whole purpose of sending emails is to trigger more engagement and build a healthy email reputation as well. That’s right, when most of emails are marked as Graymails, that does affect your email sending reputation; maybe not to the extent of what spamming does, but still its not a very good thing.

Save your emails from becoming Gray

There are many practices that can help you save your emails from becoming graymails. At EasySendy, we’ve are doing the following practices to make sure we save our emails from going gray!

#1. User Engagement is the key to inbox placement

In today’s email delivery world, there’s a significant shift from IP reputation metrics to engagement metrics. The latest email strategy states that the customer engagement level plays a vital role in the inbox placement.

Graymails have lost the interaction, but these are not spam or even unwanted. Infact, the ISPs are now smart to track the actions of the recipients and their interaction levels to understand about engagement metrics.

Are you worried about your customer engagement and want to get your graymail back to the inbox? There is a simple answer to this- Make sure that the content is relevant and engaging enough so that they get the most number of recipients.

#2. Segmentation is necessary

Make sure you are offering your most engaged users exclusive offers to enhance the engagement level. The more often the subscribers click on the offer links and the faster they do, more are the chances of your emails reaching their inboxes directly. You can ensure that you are nurturing your engaged contacts mostly by using behavior-based segmentation of EasySendy Drip. Along with this, you can also add subscriber scores to indicate which leads are most engaged in your funnel. Create drip sequences with various actions, conditions, and decision triggers to ensure relevant nurturing emails. 

easysendy drip-automation-flow

Those who are dormant gets automatically segmented into a different list in your database. You can either choose to retarget these contacts. However, make sure you verify this list first. 

#5. Re-engagement Campaigns do wonders

Re-engagement is the key to marketing, as it boosts email performances. You can pump up your email open rates, reduce your bounce rates, and increase email engagements to facilitate customer activation. Here are some tips for a re-engagement campaign.

  • Post attractive offers such as “Reply to this and win goodies.”
  • “Reply to this message for 50% discount and free shipping.”
  • Enhance the customer engagement level by offering them the discounts and replies such as “Reply to this email and get customer service anytime.”
  • Post simple feedback such as “We’d be happy to hear from you.”

The bottom line is to get your subscribers engaged with your email campaigns.  

Protect your emails: Essential To-Do’s 

If you want to route your messages into inbox tabs and folders, then here are your immediate essentials:

#1. Let the prospective subscribers know what they’re signing up for

Graymails include newsletters, sales announcements, coupons, etc. In your pop-up forms, you can add check boxes to give your subscribers options to choose what kind of emails they’d prefer from you. You can include boxes where they can specify if they want to receive emails on a daily basis or weekly or monthly basis. Give your subscribers the power to choose what they want from you. You can add this option to choose segments in the lead capture forms. Mention that you will be sending emails or sms or push notifications from time to time. 

This helps in ensuring that your subscribers consciously agree to receive certain type of emails from you. Your email campaigns are thus, consent-based.

Along with this, offer a double opt-in which means the subscribers have to confirm from their subscription by clicking on a confirmation link that is immediately sent to their inboxes upon subscribing. For instance, the confirmation email from EasySendy Drip upon registering for a trial. Once the user confirms by clicking on the provided link, he/she is automatically added to the email segment for further nurturing: 


Ultimately the final goal is to send high-quality emails which have value to your list.

Another method is to offer options to “opt-down” when a subscriber clicks on unsubscribe button. With this option, you can help your subscribers choose what categories of emails they want to receive rather than fully unsubscribing from your email lists. This helps in better segmentation and more effective nurturing. Also, it creates a healthy brand impression where you make your users feel important.

For instance, when you click on unsubscribe button on Aritic PinPoint, you are automatically redirected to the Preference Page where you can set your preferences. You can opt for email communications or SMS, and also select the most suited segment to get tailored emails. This method automatically reduces your unsubscription rates.


#2. Follow-up immediately after signup or subscription

Build your recipient list by sending an email at the time of their sign up. The best time to build engagement with the subscribers is the sign-up time as you can get to know their expectations, their frequencies and the reason behind their approach too. You can build an excellent brand reputation by sending a welcome email. It helps you enhance engagement and increase customer interaction. Make sure you test your email send frequency so that to keep a track to engagement level.

For instance, when they sign up, you can immediately send a welcome email with options to engage more. Like in EasySendy, we always want to educate and make our users aware, at the same time get detailed insights into what they are looking for. So, we craft a welcome email including an option to book a demo for the product or go through our tutorials, helping them in onboarding smoothly. Here is a sample email we send when users sign up for EasySendy Drip.


#3. Filter Out Email Lists

Make sure that an unsubscribe option is prominent in all of your emails. The unsubscribing must be done on the prior basis if the subscribers are no longer interested in receiving your emails.

In email marketing terms, we call it Suppression List management (which you can quickly check within EasySendy). Suppression list management feature helps you to permanently exclude those email IDs to which you don’t want to send emails in future. These emails can include dormant emails or email IDs that no longer exist, or those that were automatically added (without user consent). This feature helps you stay complied with the CAN-SPAM act of email marketing, as well as keeping your email list updated and healthy.

#4. Only relevant email contents, please

Know more about your subscribers on your list so that you can optimize the relevancy for your email content for each subscriber. Create valuable content. In other words, make sure that every mail you send contains valuable content. Talking about content, I’d also suggest you work around your email subject lines. You see, email subject lines are the first thing your subscribers will see. This subject line is instrumental in deciding the fate of your emails – will they open? will they mark as spam? Does it read spam? Will they delete immediately? 

Phew! So many things are dependent on your subject line. As a precautionary measure, I always suggest to test your subject lines.

PS: Avoid SPAM FOLDERS at any cost.

In case any recipient reports your message as spams or route your messages to their spam folders, it is a red flag for you. Generally, the filtration of signals start happening at a higher rate if your email generates more than one spam complaint about every 1000 emails. Hence, make sure that the content is relevant so that it doesn’t end up in the spam folder.

Over to you now.
Tell me what methods you are using to prevent your emails from falling in the trap? For better delivery options, you can take a look at EasySendy – an email marketing automation platform. It is cloud hosted and offers multiple email delivery servers that can improve your email inbox placement rates. Additionally the email automation features make it easier to send targeted and relevant emails which increases email open rates (which is directly related to maintaining a good email sending reputation). Give it a try for free and let me know your views.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ What is a Graymail?

Graymail is the unwanted email messages that you opted in to receive but now want it in your inbox.

⭐ How protect your emails?

For protecting your emails, you need to use a reputable password manager for making the online password strong and online. Look out for 2FA support whenever signing up with new email service provider. Avoid suspicious links and use a VPN on your computer for better browsing experience. Make your applications protected from phishing attacks with the use of a strong anti-virus.

⭐ What is GreyMail spam digest?

You will get a daily digest email about the summary of detected spam by GreyMail and a link to get the access of that junk email. Later, you can manage your spam settings by logging into your account.


Pritha Bose is the Senior Marketing Content Specialist at Aritic where she writes and edits for their marketing and sales blog. She is an avid reader and a social media enthusiast. On the flip side, Pritha thinks the whole world is an artificial simulation, and one fine day the skies will open up and she will see who controls it.


  1. Thanks for this thorough guide on Graymail! It is one of the most critical factors for any business success, and everyone must get to know so that they can protect their email reputation.

  2. Benjamin Jones Reply

    Thank you for sharing this useful information with us. This post gave me a lot of experience and knowledge. Keep it up. I hope to read more posts about gray marketing from your blog.

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