Gmail makes up the largest portion of most senders’ email lists. They also tend to treat email a bit differently than everyone else.

Here are some highlights:

What data is important

Gmail is focused on their users’ feedback for much of their filtering decisions. While we can’t know the secret sauce involved in these decisions, there are common standards that most marketers can monitor. Open and click rates will provide insight into the engagement of your target audience and can be used to drive positive reputation and high inbox placement.

What data is available

Gmail does provide limited insight into how they view your sending practices through their Gmail Postmaster Tools. This tool allows you a high-level view of your sending IP and domain reputation, authentication results, and complaint issues.

Gmail doesn’t display data on all complaints, nor do they facilitate a traditional FBL. Instead, they only provide data in certain circumstances, usually involving both high volumes and very high complaint rates. While keeping complaints to minimum is key to good deliverability, it’s natural for some complaints to filter in. If complaints are regularly clocking at zero, it could point to an issue that requires additional investigation.

Sender reputation

Gmail tracks IP, domain, and even brand reputation. Changing your IP or domain (or both) won’t allow you to easily shake a bad reputation. A quick or creative fix may be tempting, but it’s much more effective to allocate time and effort to fixing the root of a reputation issue for inbox placement gains.


Gmail views engaged subscribers differently than most senders traditionally do. A sender may define an active or engaged list as someone who has opened an email within 30, 90, or 180 days (depending on the business model). Gmail, on the other hand, is looking at how often their users interact with your messages.

For instance, if you send 3 emails a week over 90 days, that would be roughly 39 emails. Using the traditional method, if the subscriber opened one of those 39 emails, they’re engaged. To Gmail, this means they ignored 38 emails and are not engaged. You can get an approximate feel for your own users’ engagement levels at Gmail by grading them on open count over the last 10 emails. So a subscriber associated with 7 opens of your last 10 emails is more engaged than someone who opened 2 of the 10. Sending email less often to those users who are less engaged will help you improve your sending reputation at Gmail.

Gmail utilizes different tabs for users to distinguish different types of mail. These are Inbox, Social, and Promotional. Even if mail is delivered into the Promotional tab, it’s still considered inbox delivery. Users have control to modify their view and tabs.