masters deliverability with its Gmail users and bypasses spam folder

Share this content: cleaned up its house file and identified active Gmail users with CheetahMail cleaned up its house file and identified active Gmail users with CheetahMail


Vendor: Experian CheetahMail

Outtake: Improve deliverability 
with Experian CheetahMail by cleaning its house file and 
making sure that emails were no longer sent to the spam folders of Gmail subscribers.'s uses the imagery of vintage movie posters and famous artworks like Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" to spice up email marketing messages. Of course, if the email is not delivered, those beautiful images are meaningless. So when the e-commerce company had trouble getting through to Gmail accounts, it aimed to get to the bottom of the problem.

Jared Coelho, business development manager at, identified "over-mailing" the house list as the reason emails kept ending up in Gmail's spam folder. "In the e-commerce world, email is the easiest lever to pull to generate guaranteed additional revenue," said Coelho. 

In fact, more than 50% of the company's messages to Gmail users were being delivered to the spam folder. "This was alarming because some customers were expecting these emails to be there," said Kelly Hogan, senior reputation management specialist at Experian CheetahMail. Gmail is notoriously one of the harder Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver email messages through. 

"Gmail has historically been at the top of the spam-filtering world for 
legitimate emailers," said Ben Isaacson, privacy leader and certified information privacy professional at Experian CheetahMail. "In general, the ISPs have shifted away from authenticating email and are looking more at data driven by the use of complaints, and Gmail has led the pack of identifying active users."

In other words, if a company delivers to an email address that a user doesn't check very often, or if a marketer emails a consumer who marks its message as spam, then the mailer is bound to have deliverability issues.

STRATEGY: Teaming up with its email service provider CheetahMail, sought to clean up its list and make sure subscribers with Gmail accounts were active users. 

To do that, removed all Gmail addresses that had hard bounces from file, and then used available data to find active Gmail customers. The company defined this as Gmail users who had been active in the last three months. In email messages to those customers, the company placed the unsubscribe button to the top of the email to make it stand out and ensure unengaged customers would opt out instead of hitting the spam button. 

"If the customer understands that they have the option to opt out, then they are less likely to hit the spam 
button, which helps marketers avoid getting delivered into bulk mail folders," Isaacson explained.

In addition, the company used a slower flow rate of 10,000 per hour for delivery to Gmail users. 

RESULTS: After implementing these changes, started to see improved deliverability within just a few days. It would eventually hit 100% delivery to Gmail users after about six weeks.

The result was a 22% increase in open rates, a 15% increase in click-to-open rates and a 0.03% increase in transaction rates among those customers. Among's Gmail prospects (consumers who had opted into the email list without yet making a purchase), there was a 5% increase in open rates, a 15% increase in 
click-to-open and a 0.03% increase in transactions.

"The key takeaway is that segmentation and frequency make a big difference," Coelho said. "I was surprised by how soon we started to see results. The experience really drove home the importance of personalization, segmentation and data hygiene."

With a clean list and after only a few months, the company began emailing Gmail users who hadn't been active in six months, rather than the tighter, three-month standard. "We will be keeping a much closer eye on our 
deliverability, mailing inactive subscribers less frequently and continuing to strive for increased segmentation and personalization," Coelho said.


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