How to make sure GMAIL treats you nice

UPDATE 16 DEC 2013: GMAIL just changed how they render images by storing them on their own content network. This has broken the open metrics of many leading email vendors who depend on using the image render to trigger the open metric. However not all are doing this correctly. Our app is showing metrics not just for the first email open but also for subsequent opens too (called impressions). See sample dashboard screen above.

GMAIL will treat you nicely if you comply with their sending rules. These include not sending too much mail at the same time. Our Ironport appliance takes care of that with automatic throttling at the machine level but there are few more considerations too. One such is the GMAIL feature called GMAIL Unsubscribe. Its a sender setting in GMAIL that will help your email sending reputation. Previously, some GMAIL users would click on report spam instead of clicking on the unsubscribe link in your newsletter -bad news for your email reputation. Now, when coded correctly, GMAIL provides new options to make it easier for users to unsubscribe from your newsletter -instead of damaging your reputation. Of course with our platform, we can see who clicked on the report spam button and we automatically unsubscribe them. That way you avoid getting penalised by GMAIL by sending email to those who clicked "Report spam" but did not select the unsubscribe option...

However there are some preconditions for this to work, so its not for everybody and not for every email platform.

  1. Ideally you should have SPF setup to verify that the sending IP is authenticated to send email using your domain. GMAIL always checks SPF.
  2. You have a good email sending reputation
  3. Your email platform must be capable of sending signed emails using DKIM (Domain Keys).
  4. Your email must be correctly coded to GMAIL LIST-UNSUBSCRIBE specification.
  5. Note: GMAIL won't display Unsubscribe for lists that are known to be owned by spammers.

HOTMAIL has had a similar feature since 2006 and this is the problem. In Hotmail, the LIST-UNSUBCRIBE format must be a link which will opt out the contact; GMAIL requires MAILTO to be specified inside the LIST-UNSUBSCRIBE. So your email platform will need to cater for the different unsubscribe formats of both.

If you need any assistance with UNSUB, SPF, DKIM we are here to help. Our instructions for SPF and DKIM are online, here:

PS: Our free spam-check service will score your email and point out potential problems.

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