Google recently updated the way Gmail responds to spam and malicious emails. On net this is a good thing: less spam and scam email in your employees’ inboxes means less chances for the bad guys to dupe someone into giving away information or credentials.
But there’s a possible downside to this update — and there’s a very real chance it could negatively impact your marketing efforts.
Here’s what you need to know.
Yeah, we know: RETVec doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But that’s the name of Google’s newest weapon in the war against spam. It’s an acronym for Resilient and Efficient Text Vectorizer. (Speaking of things that don’t roll off the tongue!)
For years, Google has maintained a list of “banned” words as well as “suspect” words: use the banned ones in an email, and your email gets banished to the Spam folder straightaway. Use too many of the suspect ones and the same thing might happen.
Don’t worry about this one: your marketing team is probably already on top of those iffy words.
But spammers have long been trying to stay ahead of these lists, using variations on those words or character substitutions (like “$@vings” or “fr3e”), among lots of other little tricks, to squeak through the filters and into unsuspecting email inboxes.
RETVec is a rather complicated way of automatically detecting these kinds of tricks. It uses advanced computing and text vectorizing to turn words and phrases into something else (numbers or vectors) that it can then analyze in novel (yet efficient) ways.
As with many big tech developments, the details are complicated – but good news: those details also aren’t all that important for understanding how the tech will affect your life and your business.
RETVec is generating impressive results.
Google reports that its spam detection rate is up 38% since going live with RETVec. Not only that, Google is flagging fewer legitimate emails as spam (19.4% fewer).
All of this is good news for your business because again, fewer scam emails means fewer chances to succumb to a scam. And more legitimate emails reaching their destination is good for everyone, too.
Even still, there’s one potential downside to this update.
The Downside: Change Will Catch Some Marketers Off Guard
The big downside, thankfully a temporary one for most, is one that we see with any big change to the way an internet system operates.
Essentially, some people are going to get caught up in the change in ways that aren’t helpful.
Does your company send marketing emails of any kind to a customer list? Then it’s time to take a look at your email performance.
Because all the rules that your marketing department (or outside agency, or “you on the weekends”) follow to stay legit and compliant (and out of the spam doghouse)? They could be changing.
In other words: it’s possible that certain tactics that worked before won’t work anymore.
What You Need to Do
If you’re handling email marketing in-house, then we highly recommend digging into your email analytics over the next few weeks. If you see any significant changes or drops (like a higher bounce rate or markedly lower open, conversion, or clickthrough rates), then it’s possible something about your marketing approach is getting snagged in or flagged by RETVec.
Figuring out what that thing is might be a little tricky: the tech is so new that support and documentation are still a little light. So for now we’re just advising customers to be on the lookout. And if you identify anything troublesome, don’t hesitate to reach out!