Are You Guilty of Sending Graymail?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a gray area is defined as "an area or situation in which it is difficult to judge what is right and what is wrong." This definition proves to be accurate in the case of graymail as it's a problem in the marketing industry that even the best marketers struggle with. Though it's a widespread problem, it's not often talked about so we will dive into what graymail is, why you want to avoid it, and steps you can take to try to remedy its effects. 

What is Graymail?

Simply put, graymail is an email that you technically "opted-in" for, but don't necessarily want.

For example, if you purchase an item at a store that you don't frequent often and the cashier requests your email, you "opt-in" to receive their emails simply by providing your email. Now, you may not actually want those emails so instead of eagerly opening and clicking through their content, you ignore them. Your email service provider is observant and when it realizes you're not interested in this store's emails, it doesn't necessarily mark them as spam, but it definitely doesn't make it to the top of your inbox either. 

For end-users, this is a pretty handy tool. On the other hand, it's a nightmare for companies trying to market their products or services as it's easy to get stuck in the black hole of graymail. Keep in mind, graymail and spam are not the same things. The email will likely be delivered, it just might not be seen. The most challenging part is that it doesn't mean you're putting out bad content, it just means that the end-user may have:

  • Inadvertently signed up for correspondence (i.e. the aforementioned cashier requesting an email)
  • Valued the content at one time, but doesn't need that product or service anymore
  • Known they didn't want correspondence but ignores the emails instead of unsubscribing from them 

The important thing to remember is that it isn't personal. As you navigate graymail, center your efforts around gaining and engaging the right kind of contacts.

How to Prevent Graymail 

As you can see, graymail is tricky – and so is avoiding it. Here are some of our recommendations: 

1. Re-Engagement Campaigns 

Instead of leaving those unengaged contacts in the graymail category, try launching a re-engagement campaign. This kind of campaign serves as a direct way to say "Hey, do you still want to receive our emails?" Unsubscribes are never fun, but it's better for them to disengage completely than to be stuck in email marketing limbo. At Technical Resource Solutions, we use a platform that allows us to easily launch a re-engagement campaign for you. 

2. Personalization 

As popular as email marketing is, you probably get an influx of emails yourself. Are you more likely to click on a generic, mass-sent email? Or are you more interested in content that might have your name in it that is also tailor-made for your interests? Probably the one that is tailor-made for you, right? It's easier than you might think! With our toolset, we can create lists of contacts that are segmented based on specific needs. With clear messaging and emphasis on personalization, this tactic might keep your audience ready to hear more of what you have to say. 

3. Tweak Your Strategy

We take pride in staying up to date and shifting with the trends. What worked 6 months ago, may not work now. Keeping a close eye on your email analytics will help you determine what your audience does or doesn't want to see. If you notice certain trends, tweak your strategy, and see how it goes! Experimentation isn't a weakness, but rather a willingness to keep trying something new until you strike gold. Get a team with the right combination of structure and fluidity and the sky is the limit! 

4. Welcome Email 

Your audience will be the most engaged with your brand when they first opt-in for emails, so take that opportunity to make a good impression. Send new contacts a welcome email that not only informs them of your brand but also adequately prepares them for what kind of emails they will be receiving. With the right tone and messaging, you can engage the right customers at the get-go. 

5. Offer "Opt-Down" Options 

One common reason for unsubscribes can be attributed to your audience feeling as if they are getting too many emails. One way to avoid this is by periodically offering "opt-down" options. This could be part of your re-engagement campaign or it could be a pop up when a contact attempts to unsubscribe. Give them an option to limit what kinds of email they receive. Give your audience the power to decide. 

Best Next Step: Your Marketing Team

It's important to keep in mind, graymail is inevitable to a certain extent, but it is possible to minimize it with a solid strategy and a persistent marketing team. Re-engagement campaigns, personalized emails, and email triggers are big undertakings when you're not used to doing it every day. Let us use our skillset to minimize graymail so you can focus your skillset on keeping your company running like a well-oiled machine. 

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