Graymail: reacquiring disengaged subscribers

how to avoid graymail

First, some clarity is in order: Most reputable sources prefer the term “graymail” over any other iteration of the word, so it’s not “greymail” and there’s no space between gray and mail. And I probably don’t need to explain this, but this article is about graymail as it relates to email marketing, and not they type of graymail that describes a defense tactic in which prosecuted spies threaten to reveal government secrets unless legal charges against them are dropped.

Graymail, when referring to email and not espionage, typically constitutes messages to which a recipient has subscribed, but does not engage. In other words, graymail occurs when you opt in to receive a newsletter from a company, for example, but you never click or read the emails that company sends you.

When recipients exhibit a pattern of choosing not to engage with graymail messages, their ISPs will begin to categorize these emails as unwanted, and they will subsequently be filtered out of normal inboxes and into spam folders. Therefore, if your contacts don’t open your newsletters for a few consecutive months, your emails will probably be sent directly to the “junk” folder, and will not be seen.

Furthermore, if your bounce rate for email blasts is too high, you could end up damaging the reputation of your email service provider (ESP), and not just your own. Your ESP might retaliate by adding you to a block list.

That is bad. I want it to be good. What can I do about graymail?

If you’re worried about graymail affecting your viewability, there are a few strategies you can implement to combat low engagement rates.

Often, re-engaging your subscribers is as simple as changing the timing of your email blasts. If your newsletter is competing with four other newsletters from different companies early every Thursday morning, your message might have better success on, say, Tuesday evening. Don’t send your emails out during prime working hours, when your recipients will most likely be swamped with dozens of other emails and work related important things.

You might also want to consider altering the frequency of your emails. Maybe your recipients feel overwhelmed by the volume of emails you send, and would rather receive fewer alerts. You can always ask your subscribers to choose how often they receive messages from your company.

As always, you should constantly tweak your campaigns and analyze engagement data to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Are your contacts becoming disengaged? Are your leads not converting into sales like you had hoped? You might want to rethink your lead nurturing process. Read our blog to learn how to keep your lead nurturing process from looking like spam.

Do you have questions about inbound marketing and how it can help you attract more visitors to your site and convert them into leads and customers? Learn more about the makings of a successful inbound marketing strategy with our free e-book, An Introduction to Inbound Marketing.