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Email marketing: A new Gmail issue surfaces

Thomas Senne
Senior Director of Global Deliverability

Gmail sent the following message to some users on Wednesday, saying it experienced an issue between January 15 and January 22.

The issue was that some actions such as deleting an email, or moving an email to the spam folder were executed incorrectly by Gmail on unintended messages. The example actions that Gmail mentions include “delete” and “report spam”, but the "e.g." in the above note tells us that there may have been other actions impacted.

The most concerning scenario for a sender is this: a user reported a particular email as spam, but a completely different email was actually moved into the spam folder. This could be an email from a legitimate sender that the user typically engages with.

What’s next for senders?

Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do to correct this issue. Gmail does not provide a feedback loop, so that means you don’t have a list of recipients who complained about a message. Our suggestion is to pay close attention to Gmail open and click numbers and see if there is a dip in those metrics after January 15-22. If you determine there is a clear dip in engagement after this time frame, you might want to consider trying to communicate with your Gmail users.

The tricky part about that communication is that messages from your brand are now potentially going to the spam folder for anyone impacted by this error. That means future emails will most likely go unread. Gmail is telling us that users must go into the spam folder and reverse the actions on wanted messages before February 14. This date is 30 days from when the first emails incorrectly hit the spam folder, and when Gmail auto-deletes messages from that folder. This does not leave senders much time to formulate and execute a plan.

The best chance to resolve the issue is to communicate with your users via a different channel. Greeting visitors to your website with a warning message, reaching out through the mobile channel, or considering push or display notifications are all possibilities. That message should encourage Gmail users to go to their spam folder and look for any messages they don’t want to be there, and to mark them as “Not Spam” in order to send that and future messages back to their proper destination.

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