Late in 2011, Gmail started displaying the reasons why they had marked a message as important. They have now gone an additional step and started displaying reasons for placing a message in the junk folder. While this information is obviously targeted towards end user education, it will also be useful for email marketers to understand how their marketing communications are being perceived by Gmail and their users.

Here are some of the reasons you may see messages in your Gmail account placed in the junk folder:

1. “It’s similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters
This happens because the email content matches known spam fingerprints likely caused by spam traps, poor list hygiene, user complaints and sender reputation.
Standard advise marketers to would be work on sending relevant content and follow good email practices that include; targeting vs blasting, bounce management and list hygiene, and sending consent based messages.

2. “Many people marked similar messages as phishing scams, so this might contain unsafe content
Hopefully most marketers won’t see their messages being marked with this warning. But if you do, make sure you are correctly authenticating with SPF & DKIM and check your links against popular URL blocklists. Also It would be a great idea to review your email coding practices and evaluate your email creative to understand why consumers would mark your messages as phishing or scams.

3. “We’ve found that lots of messages from are spam
This clearly indicates a bad reputation for the senders domain. Moving to a new domain won’t help in the long-term as it will cause confusion with subscribers and could lead to higher bulking rates and additional delivery issues. The sender should focus on sending relevant content to opt in users.

4. “It contains content that’s typically used in spam messages
This would mostly happen because of bad coding or due to excessive use of certain spammy content (keywords/phrases, IPs, or URLs). This can also happen when spammy content is sent in list rental scenarios. It’ll help senders to keep a tab on what kind of content and subject matter they’re sending on behalf of a third-party or partner.

Many of these new tools provided by the Gmail team will allow for a self-diagnostics review of your email and the behaviors of your content when dealing with Gmail recipients. These types of notices could also easily be used to understand similar delivery behaviors at other major ISPs and Webmail providers.

Link to the announcement on the Official Gmail blog.