Did Gmail Just Kill Automated Outbound Sales Emails?

I don’t think so…but I couldn’t resist the doomsday title.  🙂

We noticed yesterday that our email bounce rates suddenly spiked  And that we were getting rejections from addresses that we’ve verified, even addresses that we’ve 2x verified — via our email validation process and via 3rd party email validation tools.


We’ve emailed some friendlies and found that we’re not the only ones having this problem.  Many other companies that rely on semi-automated prospecting emails to fill the top of their funnel are suddenly having email delivery problems.

My hunch is that the new Gmail spam filters — detailed here  —  just started taking effect.  Here are some patterns we’ve seen thus far are:
  • There seems to be a higher incidence of returns with messages that contain links.  Removing URLs seems to help.  We’re going to test to see if including — but not tracking — URLs has the same impact.
  • There seems to be a higher incidence of returns with messages that are continuations of a previous thread.  So we’re starting a new thread with every email we deploy instead of “replying” to a previous thread with a “just making sure you saw this” email.
  • My hunch is that Gmail might detect that the same email is going out over and over, so we’re going to start testing ways to automatically generate more variations and more personalization — which we were already doing anyway.  🙂

Take heart — all is not lost.  After finding this problem and figuring out some work-arounds, we started a new batch for a customer yesterday afternoon that had a 55% open rate — so the getting still seems to be pretty good.

We’ll write more as we learn more.  Ping us if you have any insights or questions.