How many times has it happened that you’re waiting for an important email, but it never shows up in your inbox? You keep refreshing your inbox, but nope! And then you discover that the email is hiding in your SPAM box. Yes, you’ve hated that moment. So, you mark it as NOT spam and move it to your inbox. Matter solved; or is it?
What if Gmail keeps rejecting your messages repeatedly, or worse, block your messages on the very first connection to its servers? When this happens, the bounce message looks something like this:
smtp;421 xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx [IP address] Our system has detected that this message is suspicious due to the very low reputation of the sending domain. To best protect our users from spam, the message has been blocked. Please visit https://support.google.com/mail/answer… for more information.
Analyzing this bounce can be nightmarish because:
Google guides have no mention of such a bounce and how to handle it
Google forms also strategically skipped this particular scenario.
Let’s evaluate the damage and consequent risks
Thanks to the reclusive approach of Google towards this issue, bounce like these immediately raises the red flag. Your domain’s reputation as a sender is likely at stake as Gmail (which includes domains that are managed in G Suite) starts rejecting all of your messages. Another challenge is to rebuild this reputation that has already suffered due to this bounce. Rebuilding is hard because when Gmail starts rejecting all of your messages, there is no option for your recipients to correct Gmail by marking messages as NOT spam and moving them to the inbox.
So, where to start?
To put it simply, it all begins with realizing that you have a problem to solve. To help you stay alert and notice the bounces immediately, we can help configure your sending domain properly inside your Google postmaster account. You will see the alert as reputation alert which you can then use to identify performance and deliverability issues.
Resolving the problem: Optimize your email engagement
When we say optimizing email engagement, it is not only about tweaking your email content with a word or a sentence, or for that matter, replacing the whole content with a new one. These modifications can catalyze your efforts to some extent. At this juncture, you will first need to bring into consideration Google’s ways of sifting through the content and displaying it, because this is arguably the most advanced form of machine learning we’re dealing with. Google’s approach is based on real-time learning and trend analysis, wherein Google LEARNS on its own from its mistakes and trends. It takes into account individual user experience and adapts its filtering process to match with its users’ preferences.
This pinpoints why you should be keeping an eye on the engagement metrics along with tracking the bounces. If the majority of your recipients are not opening or clicking your emails, it will give Gmail an impression that these messages are not important. Add to this, if any of your recipients mark your message as SPAM, Gmail will mark your domain as unsolicited. This combination of low engagement and spam marking together will bring down your domain’s reputation, consequently leading to complete block from Gmail servers.
This can be countered only by inducing positive engagement. When a majority of your recipients start engaging with your emails, Gmail also starts adopting these changes. Using transactional emails is one great way to build up your lost reputation. Transactional emails are not your regular update emails. These are the emails that your recipients need in their inbox instantly. Let’s say you make a payment online and you don’t receive the acknowledgment immediately. That is going to take your peace of mind temporarily until you receive the email. The same logic works for your recipients too. Transactional emails are a great way to rebuild your domain reputation because you know your recipients (at least a majority of them) will open them.
You can club transactional emails with other such high-engagement emails that target your active contacts. This will increase email engagement, which will give your domain more credibility and Gmail will start trusting your messages.
The other side of the coin: Protect your forms!
You don’t get blocked just like that. It is not always because your recipients are not engaging. There can be multiple other factors, like:
- Faulty integration leading to sending out wrong content
- Intrusion by a spammer into your domain
- Bot-related issues
Yes. Bots can also pull down your email sending reputation by exploiting web forms that can trigger a denial of service attack. This can result in a large outburst of spam emails which immediately raises suspicion, forcing Gmail to take aggressive steps like blocking all your messages.
So, before you start blaming your recipients or becoming a victim yourself, you must set who can use and trigger messages through your signup forms. It is far easier to implement a security check like including Captchas on websites, rather than waiting for a massacre to happen. Also, including a captcha will not affect your users’ overall experience. Another option is to show captcha when any user accesses your form multiple times from the same IP address or user profile.
From your end, you can avoid taking customers’ email address beyond this step. If you drag the security too long, the chances are that your users will add random details to get over with it quickly. This can affect your email list quality.
Final To-Do: Monitor your domain reputation
There is no alternative to careful monitoring of your domain reputation. You can set up a DMARC policy on your domain. This not only enforces that fraudulent messages will be automatically rejected but also ensures that you get valuable reports about any suspicious activities happening from your domain. If a spammer tries to intrude and exploit its vulnerability, you will instantly have the data in-hand to take serious actions.
Lastly, being responsible and alert of reputation shifts is important. You can do it by registering your DKIM domain on Google Postmaster and Aritic Mail SMTP relay.
Summing it all up, Gmail works to make internet safe and enjoyable. By respecting your recipients’ inboxes and safeguarding your assets, it won’t be long when Gmail blocks will be a thing of past.