Differences between graymail and spam
Understanding the differences between graymail and spam is important for your business so you can be aware of how your marketing emails are being flagged.
There are several differences between graymail vs. spam, including:
Content and intent
While graymail messages are typically promotional, everything is above board, and the intent is to sell real products and services to customers.
In many cases, graymail starts with a recipient signing up for emails in exchange for discounts. After receiving dozens of emails, that customer may decide to stop opening emails from your business and allow them to be flagged as graymail.
Spam comes in several forms, but the intent is often to trick or scam people. Spam emails are commonly used in phishing scams and social engineering scams.
Opt-in vs. no consent
Consent is another key aspect of graymail. People consent to receive graymail at some point, while spam emails are sent with no consent from the recipient.
Every graymail message starts with an individual opting to receive marketing emails. Some people may opt-in accidentally, while others may sign up to receive sale announcements and special discounts. As people stop opening these marketing emails, they become graymail.
Spam is typically sent to hundreds or thousands of email addresses that didn’t opt-in for those messages.
In most cases, graymail comes from honest businesses that are trying to build larger customer bases. Spam, on the other hand, usually comes from email addresses with a poor email sender reputation.
While having graymail messages flagged can have a negative effect on your email newsletters and promotional emails, your email isn't flagged for malicious activity. However, if you send an unsolicited email to a list of email addresses, your address may be flagged as spam, and your email address may be blacklisted.
People are getting smarter about spam and phishing scams every year, so having a positive sender reputation is a key part of conveying your marketing message.
Frequency and volume
Spam messages are sent with no regard for the recipient's inbox, while graymail is usually sent automatically on a schedule based on your email marketing plan.
If you have a personal inbox that receives a lot of spam emails, you know how frequent they can be. Some spammers send several emails in a single day with the hopes of luring people into scams. This high frequency and volume of emails makes it easier for ISPs to detect and flag spam.
Graymail isn't nearly as frequent as spam. Marketing emails should be spaced out a bit to make sure you're not overwhelming your customers. In fact, sending fewer marketing emails can be an effective way to stop graymail.
Perhaps the biggest difference between spam and graymail is that graymail is flagged based on user engagement.
In order for a message to be flagged as graymail, the recipient has to ignore that message. This usually happens when someone signs up for marketing emails from your business but decides they're not interested after a few weeks or months.
Spam has little to do with user engagement and more to do with the content of the messages. ISPs have improved spam detection over the years, making it easier to separate legitimate messages from spam.
While graymail is filtered out of primary inboxes and sent to other folders, spam is filtered into its own unique folder. Graymail is more of an annoyance than a risk, but spam emails may contain malicious links, viruses, and other content that can be harmful to recipients.
If your emails are flagged as spam, ISPs and email service providers may blacklist or graylist your address. Avoiding spam and graymail filters is an essential part of email marketing for businesses of all sizes.