How to use colors effectively in email marketing-Part 1

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A marketing email is a combination of carefully crafted parts, aimed at garnering maximum engagement. Of these, color plays a vital role, adding subtlety or exuberance to the email. With the right combination of colors, you can effectively ensure you convey the appropriate message to your subscribers.

 Whether it’s seasonal, motivational, or a sale reminder, there’s a right color for every kind of email. You can choose colors that support your message, resonate with subscribers’ interests, and encourage subscribers to engage. Let’s delve into the world of colors and learn how you can best use them in your email marketing.

Importance of colors

Always remember to use colors specifically and judiciously. Restrict yourself to two or three colors, including brand colors, and make the most important color more visible than the others.

As all colors are red, green, blue, or a combination of the three with varying percentages (RGB), you should research a bit about the RGB value of your brand color and experiment with different combinations that work well with it.

You should generally try to include no more than three colors in your email templates:

  • Your primary color needs to be the most important color aligned to the message your brand logo provides and should also be the most prominent in your template

  • The secondary color, less prominent, needs to be an excellent filler for the primary color. It should also complement the message

A tertiary color can be used to provide a completeness to the entire message and the other two colors used in the email

Check the table below to see how the three major colors interact:

Color wheel showing color combinations
Color mixing and color properties in a color wheel

Use of colors in content

The use of colors in email content can be divided into two sections:

General use of colors

The background in an email template acts as a canvas, whereas the foreground contains the text, images, and other elements. The general rule is to opt for a light background and dark foreground or vice-versa.

Image of a template with a neutral color as background allowing the foreground to be prominent
Black as a neutral background color makes the golden foreground prominent

As an email marketer you need to showcase the message and other features of the email template. So to make the message stand out, you need to choose your template’s background and the foreground very carefully. White and black are less vibrant, but good for creating balanced combinations with other colors.

Use of colors in elements

Colors are used in template elements to achieve:

  • Division

  • Contrast

  • Consistency


Division allows you to accommodate more and varied information in your emails. Let’s say there’s a winter sale going on and you need to show the images of apparel. Even though they’re all winter clothes, they’re going to differ in certain respects. You can use divisions to show the types of clothing in separate sections of your template to address these differences.

The products in the template maintain the same color as the template
Divisions help maintain a similar color pattern between the products and the template

Use different colors in different sections and try to match the mood or occasion the apparel goes with. For example, colors such as red and yellow are associated with festivities such as Diwali in India, and green and red go with Christmas.

Try to reflect these colors when providing alt text, as that will retain the specificity of the sections even if the images are not visible


Contrast between sections of an email can draw the reader’s eye to specific places. Using contrasting colors lets you effectively direct attention to the most important sections of the email. Here are a few examples of contrast in action:

CTA buttons with non-neutral colors as background
Non-neutral colors make the letters in the foreground more prominent


  • Use light backgrounds with dark CTA buttons or dark backgrounds with light ones

  • Avoid using neutral colors for CTA buttons, as they often blend into the background or don’t stand out

  • Opt for RGB colors for CTA buttons. Orange is also a good choice

  • Ensure that your CTA colors stand out, so they can generate better engagement from subscribers

CTA buttons with neutral colors in the background
The letters in the foreground seem less prominent against neutral backgrounds


Consistency in email templates gives the reader a sense of coherence and continuity. This, in turn, builds a sort of trust among your subscribers. You can use the same color across multiple design elements—for example, the header text and a CTA button.

Template with a consistent color code
Blue is consistently used in this template maintaining a good balance with yellow

Determine color with segmentation

Factors influence colors and colors influence action. Your lists are segmented by common factors, so why not select colors for these segments? Segment your contact lists based on factors, such as geographic, demographic, gender, and past purchasing behavior.

Let’s see how some of these factors influencing segmentation can also help you in choosing colors.


Orange is a color often associated with Halloween and autumn. While that might not be the case in some parts where autumn doesn’t signify fallen leaves, green or other nature-related colors can work well for those regions.

Template showing orange as the dominant color in an autumn related email
Orange is a dominant color displaying autumn in some parts of the world

Segment your lists by geographical regions and choose the colors best suited for seasons and holidays pertaining to those particular regions.


The age group of your subscribers can determine the colors they prefer.

Subtle colors in the background and foreground of a template
Subtle colors in templates work better among the elder subscribers

Segment your lists by age groups and opt for dynamic content, catering two versions of one email to two different age groups.

A colorful template provides vibrancy
Colorful templates work well among the younger subscribers

Determine color with A/B testing

You can check the efficiency of your campaign with A/B testing. This will help you determine which colors can generate maximum engagement from your subscribers.

Colors that provide similar vibes or colors that hold similar cultural significance can be checked. You can also determine the tint and shade of the dominant colors used in your templates.

Green as the main color for a nature related template
Green is ideally chosen while designing templates talking about nature

For instance, let’s say you’re about to send an email to try and get recipients to subscribe to a nature periodical. Commonly, green and brown both are good nature colors. You thus try out two versions of the same email, with version A as a green template and version B as a brown one. With A/B testing, you can easily figure out which version will resonate better with your subscribers.

Brown as s the main color for a nature related template
Brown can also be used the main color in templates taking about natural and organic products


Colors aren’t merely window dressing for your emails—their associations to people are cultural, geographical, demographical, and personal.

As an email marketer, you can connect with your contacts quite effectively by using the right colors for the right seasons and reasons.

Stay tuned for our next instalment, where we’ll discuss color schemes and the best uses of different colors.


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Zoho Positioned as Visionary in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2020

We’re happy to announce that Gartner, a leading independent technology analyst firm, has named Zoho a Visionary in this year’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP).

The story

At Zoho, we have a saying:

Put your head down and work hard. Results are bound to follow. 

While we’re constantly listening to our customers’ voices and gauging our effectiveness, recognition from analysts like Gartner is always a moment of happiness for us. It affords us the chance to give ourselves a quick pat on the back before continuing on our journey to be the best we can be.

And what better way to celebrate but to share a quick recap of our journey thus far with Zoho Creator, our low-code platform evaluated for the research.

Read on to see how we began, where we are, and to get a sneak peek into what’s in store for next year! 🙂

The beginning

Always think long-term. This is at the core of all our moves as an organization over the past two decades.

The decision to not go public, to stay free of debt, to invest in the cloud, to focus on building our own security infrastructure, and to create an entire ecosystem of over 45 interoperable business applications have all been a part of this.

Our journey with the idea of a low-code application development platform started in 2005. As a fast-paced young startup with a positive growth trajectory, we needed to build applications faster to run our operations smoothly, without adding to the burden on our in-house developers, who were already running at full capacity. We explored the traditional development approach to develop what we wanted, but the speed and cost, which was critical to us, was a big problem.

As we dug deeper, it became evident that our need was universal, and the right solution could potentially disrupt application development as we knew it.

And so we walked over to our drawing board and wrote down the problem statement:

Uncomplicate and democratize application development

It meant that we needed to create a platform that helped anyone from a novice to a professional developer, create fully-functional business applications utilizing their full range of skills.

To date, this still remains our vision for our platform. 🙂

Our approach

Any given feature in an application could be easy, difficult, or complicated to develop and deploy. Our approach was to build a cloud-based platform that could shift the easy to trivial, the difficult to easy, and the impossible to possible.

We achieved this by identifying customer-centric features that needed pro-code developer intervention, then abstracting it and pushing it down to the low-code or no-code spectrum. And what more, we do it retroactively with our product updates! For example, our customers could deploy a native iOS mobile app in 2013 for a web application they built in 2006, a year before the first iPhone was even launched. 

So with a lot of hustle in the back room, we launched the first version of Zoho Creator, C1, in March 2006, around eight months after the first spark.

The ethos of our platform today

Today, fourteen years later, we’re on Creator 5 (C5) and still unwaveringly committed to our vision for the platform.

The result? Apart from being recognized by the likes of Gartner, we’re the preferred low-code platform for over 10,000 organizations worldwide. Our strength lies in turning Zoho Creator into a scalable, reliable, and secure platform loaded with customer-centric features.

 Some key highlights of the current version of the platform include:

      • Multi-persona application development: Our platform is engineered for better user experience and scalability for developers with a range of skill sets. On the one hand, to meet the needs of low- and no-code developers, we’ve added multiple abstraction levels, reducing complex functions to one-click or drag-and-drop actions. On the other, we also provide an IDE and controls for pro-code developers to build customized applications and services from the ground up, without limitations. This makes us different from most other low-code platforms, which cater to either of the two personas but not both. To add to it, we also provide for interoperability between the GUI drag-and-drop mode and the IDE mode, for greater collaboration between the two personas, leading to a seamless application development experience and better app governance.

      • Multi-experience platform builder: Our web-based, multiplatform builder lets you build, design, preview, and deploy apps for web, mobile, and tablets. The app-building takes place for all platforms simultaneously, but users can design and preview the app for each platform separately. The multiplatform builder is a major productivity booster for app developers.

      • AI-based application development: We’ve implemented several AI services at the application level as drag-and-drop features, such as prediction, keyword extraction, sentiment analysis, OCR, and object detection. We also provide deployment of custom AI models, without the need for niche AI skills, as a low-code feature. For example, an object detection system usually identifies a predefined set of objects from an image. Through our custom AI builder, a user can build object detection for a healthcare system by feeding healthcare-specific information to that engine with just a few clicks. And don’t worry, we value our customer’s privacy and never use their data for model development or training.

      • Customer portal: Customers can set up dedicated white-label portals for their external stakeholders, like customers, partners, and vendors, to access the entire application or just the parts relevant to them. This gives our customers complete peace of mind without spending time and effort on building their own authentication and security mechanisms.

      • Integration without coding: With 430+ smart connectors and 700+ prebuilt workflows, our customers can integrate and automate existing and new applications using a dynamic builder to connect information across the enterprise and facilitate business synergy. This includes integration with external local on-premise databases, external cloud service databases, IoT services, and popular CRMs, accounting, eCommerce, ITSM, project management cloud services, and more.

What’s next?

Our product team is in the last leg of fine-tuning Creator 6, which is expected to roll out early next year. A host of exciting new features and improvements to existing ones are in store. A sneak peek is just around the corner! 🙂

Parting words

We’re proud that our platform is slowly changing lives by making more people less afraid of software development and giving everyone the power to do more, faster.

On one end of the spectrum, we have Pedro Schambon—a farmer turned low-code developer turned CEO of ProFarmer Software Solutions—who has built and deployed an end-to-end farming management solution on our platform and is currently reselling it to other players in his industry.

On the other end of the spectrum is Shelby Spencer, CTO of Briotix Health, who regained 75% of her company’s revenue lost in the aftermath of COVID-19 in just under a month, through extensive deployment of applications built on our platform.

We know we need to keep pursuing our vision when we hear stories like these from our customers—and you can be rest assured that we’ll continue to work hard to do just that.

You can download the full report from here.

Click here to explore the power of Zoho Creator for free




Tribin Roy

At work, a product marketer passionate about narrating technology stories that can help organizations make value-driven decisions. Outside of it, a cat-parent who believes that everyone should observe these fabulous beings to learn a thing or two about patience, excitement, and love.

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Zoho Show extends Unsplash support to its iOS app

Have you ever had an exciting idea to share but it somehow fell flat while presenting to your audience? The visuals you use in your slides play a vital role in engaging your audience and illustrating your points, regardless of the type of presentation you create. Your data or content by itself can be very good, but images that compliment your work can take your presentation to the next level.

While creating a presentation, there are a number of challenges in making your slides visually rich. For one, there’s a major stumbling block when it comes to using images from the web: license and copyright issues. Once you find the perfect image, you have to check the license and ensure it is free to use. The next step would be to download a royalty-free image manually, upload it to your presentation, and format it as required. Quite a task, isn’t it? This is the problem Zoho Show’s Unsplash integration efficiently solves.

Introducing Unsplash for Zoho Show iOS

Unsplash opens the door to millions of high-resolution images contributed by a community of creative photographers. Zoho Show added Unsplash as an integration at the end of last year and extended the feature to the Android app earlier this year. We are now excited to announce Unsplash is available in the Show iOS app too!

Imagine you’re pitching your business idea to potential investors. You may want to add images to slides that will create a positive impact on the investors. There is also a need to be extra careful to ensure you or your company don’t face any copyright infringement lawsuits. With the Unsplash feature, you are just a few clicks away from adding the perfect picture to complement your slide content.

Bring life to your ideas with pictures from Unsplash.

Try out the Unsplash feature in your iOS device today!

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Zoho blog | New product by Zoho Mail

Introducing _________ by Zoho Mail! Nope, I didn’t forget to fill in the blank. We do have an announcement coming up that you won’t want to miss, but we’re not quite ready to roll it out yet.

Let’s first take a look at a few problems business owners face. These are examples we come across on a regular basis, and you likely either own a business similar to theirs or have been customers of one.

All these have one thing in common. They’re all trying to solve a specific problem that’s heavily impacting their business. Actually, they have two things in common—the second is they’re all going to LOVE what we have in store.

We at Zoho Mail are launching a new secure and user-friendly product that will help all businesses communicate efficiently with their customers, building trust. This new platform has been battle-tested by more than 45 Zoho applications over the years, and we’ve been working behind the scenes for a while, to make this product available to all of you.

With this product’s pay-as-you-go pricing model whether you’re a solopreneur working out of your house or an enterprise with multiple offices, you only pay for what you use.

We’re almost ready for launch, but you’ll have to wait just a little longer to find out more. We’ll be announcing the new product in the coming week along with a special introductory offer for Zoho Mail and Zoho Workplace users.

In the meantime, we thought, why not make it interesting and see if someone can guess what this new product does. Leave your guesses in the comments, and we’ll be back soon to reveal how many of you got it right.

Keep an eye on this space and our Twitter page for our announcement. Until then, keep safe and stay healthy!

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Think Twice: Know how Zoho Mail protects you from spam

In the last two parts of the Think Twice series we discussed email spam, those uninvited guests who wreak havoc at your email party, as well as types of email spam and tips to prevent it. Now that you know all about the trouble spam brings, you might be curious to know what reputable email service providers (ESPs) are doing to help protect users from spam of all types. 

One of the challenges ESP’s face is correctly identifying whether an email is spam or legitimate. Zoho Mail does this by studying community data—how and which users mark an email as spam or not spam. With the help of community data and pre-defined conditions, our servers can automatically identify half a million spam emails per hour on average with an admirable success rate. The use of community data in spam processing extends further.

Zoho mail spam protection

Say a user is sending an email from a third-party email server to a Zoho Mail user. For that email to get delivered to the recipient’s inbox, the sender’s IP should hold a positive reputation. The reputation score of an IP is dependent on the number of spam and non-spam emails generated from that IP. When a source with low reputation places an email transfer request to the Zoho Mail server, we will either reject the email or deliver it to the recipient mailbox’s spam folder, depending on the user settings.

Let spam stand in the bay:

If the nuances of classifying the right emails as spam is a challenge, determining the right approach for bulk emails is a bigger challenge. Though our filters can recognize and sift out emails with spam fingerprints—attachments masked with malware, phishing links, malicious executable macros, non-RFC compliant emails, unsolicited bulk emails, and more—the approach we need to take for each of them differs. While we filter out phishing emails more vigorously, reducing the false positives, we take a more user-specific approach concerning bulk emails, given that a bulk email can be spam to one user and of interest to another.

With the help of user-centric and organization-wide spam control settings, administrators can customize and choose what kind of emails they want Zoho Mail to deliver to their inbox. Starting from choosing which parts of an email you want us to analyze using our filters, administrators can choose to show sender-based alerts, process spam based on specific languages, and quarantine or reject emails based on authentication framework (SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and DNSBL) verification. The administrator can also add specific emails, domains, and IP addresses to their lists like Allowed list, or Blocked list to receive or not receive emails from certain senders. Apart from the administrator maintaining an organization-wide list, each user can customize their own anti-spam lists to block or allow users of their choice.

Combat phishing with added accuracy:

In our previous post, we discussed the technique spammers use to phish for personal data: copying the user interface and experience of a legitimate organization, including the domain address. For example, say you maintain your finances at a bank named Woods, and “” is their domain address. Now a spammer might phish using a domain—”” or “”—that looks like the legitimate address by changing a few letters to deceive recipients.

While our spam filters are capable of spotting such emails, you can also take additional spoof control measures for the domains that are significant to your organization by verifying all cousin domains of that respective domain. And it doesn’t stop there. You can protect your organization members from spoofed emails and prevent this fraud from happening with the help of Zoho Mail’s Display Name Spoofing feature.

Spam processing is not without its flaws because as ESPs improve their filtering mechanisms and block spam emails with higher accuracy, spammers also become more advanced in their masking techniques by using reputed services. Some spammers have started following RFC rules, SPF and DKIM authentication protocols, among others to escape spam processing. This new, evolved spam can sometimes slip through the filters and end up the recipient’s inbox.

This is why we’re constantly updating the Zoho Mail server to learn new fingerprints even with a small sample size. And don’t worry: even if one or two spam emails escape our wall of filters, our post-delivery spam check can identify and mark those emails as spam automatically.

Given all the challenges in identifying and processing spam, we at Zoho Mail place our users’ safety and security before every other priority. We have already added a ton of new spam control features to our all-new admin console. As we move forward, we’ll continue refining our techniques even further to improve your experience.

We hope the Think Twice blog series has helped you learn more about email spam and ways to prevent it! Give Zoho Mail’s anti-spam features a try and let us know what you think.

Yamine Durai

Yamine Durai, a part of Zoho Mail’s marketing team, is a tech enthusiast.
But if you spot her away from office hours, you will probably find her reading a history book while honing her oratory skills.

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How an effective onboarding system benefits your organization

Automating onboarding

Onboarding is one of the first opportunities you have to communicate your company culture to new employees. Having a straightforward onboarding system speaks volumes about your organization and gives hew hires a sense of direction. If the process is riddled with inefficiencies, employees will be more likely to leave your organization, and the money spent on recruiting and training these individuals goes waste. This is why onboarding should be automated. It provides a clear, simple experience to your employees.

Automating onboarding

Here are some of the benefits of automating onboarding:

  • Streamlines mundane administrative tasks and reduces errors

  • Supports candidate onboarding, which helps motivate candidates even before they join your organization

  • Digitizes the paperwork associated with onboarding, consolidating it all to a single application

  • Ensures compliance by documenting all the onboarding paperwork in a centralized system

  • Provides employees all the information they need about your organization

  • Generates reports, which makes it easy for you to track the progress of your new hires

Read more about how onboarding benefits your organization in our HR Knowledge Hive.

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Ensuring better inbox placement for Gmail recepients

Cover image

Expert Diaries from Zoho Campaigns connects avid email marketers to the experts in this space to help them learn some best practices and tips. Our aim is to connect email geeks and form a community that learns email marketing from one another.

We recently sat down with Sridhar Chandran, an anti-spam and email-deliverability expert with over 13 years of experience who currently works as Solution Architect at Validity, Inc. There, he helps high-volume senders optimize their email marketing for better email deliverability (inbox placement).

In our 40-minute chat, we discussed with Sridhar the specifics of email deliverability for Gmail and asked him many sought-after questions.

For those of you who prefer reading, here’s the rundown of the conversation.

Key terms

ISP – Inbox Service Providers, aka mailbox providers (for example, Gmail)

ESP – Email Service Providers (for example, Zoho Campaigns)

SPF – Sender Policy Validation

DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail

DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance

IPV6 – Internet Protocol Version 6

Google Postmaster – A tool by Gmail which helps you analyze your email performance

Sunset Policy – A plan or action for managing inactive contacts after a certain point of time

BIMI – Brand Indicators for Message Identification

VMC certificate – Verified Mark Certificates (A digital certificate authenticating the logo of a sender’s domain)

We know that filtering systems differ from one ISP to another, but how different is Gmail’s as opposed to the likes of Yahoo, Outlook, and more? More than often, 40% of a mailing list comprises Gmail recipients. In Asia, the number only goes up. So it’d be great if you could explain the specifics of Gmail’s spam filters.


To understand this, we’ve to trace how Gmail has evolved over the years. If you guys remember, Gmail offered 1TB storage while starting off in 2004. This was their USP. At that time, ISPs like AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail offered limited storage. From a mail-filtering perspective, Gmail relied on IP reputation a lot. (90% of emails the ISPs receive per day is spam. So a lot of emails had to be blocked.)

They went one step ahead and created a separate folder called spam, while giving the users the option to move emails between spam and inbox. If a user moved an email from spam to inbox ascertaining it’s genuine, the spam filters took cues and expanded the data points used for decision-making. This was a major differentiator.

Then came IPV6, authentication method (like DKIM), and more signals. After a point, they started relying more on email-sending domain’s reputation than the IP reputation. (Both were used.) A domain’s reputation was decided based on different engagement signals: opens, clicks, getting added to the address book, emails moved from spam to inbox, and more. The other ISPs also emphasize engagement signals, but Gmail implemented this much earlier. Gmail also had the advantage of basing filtering decisions around Google’s data points.

For example: If you’re a brand-new sender, other ISPs have to gauge you based on the volume of emails you send. This is because they’re seeing you for the first time. When it comes to Gmail, they can use certain data points from Google: your website’s ranking, its shelf life, and more.

Gmail doesn’t have a traditional feedback loop like Yahoo or Hotmail—so how does a sender troubleshoot their (deliverability) issues with Gmail?


Yes, you’re right. Gmail doesn’t have a traditional feedback loop like other mailbox providers. But there are some signals you can take a look at. Again, this might not be unique to Gmail. (Some other mailbox providers might also have them.) The first one is bounces—hard bounces and soft bounces. This is something I feel that most users are not utilizing.

When most of your emails have traces of spam, the defence mechanism for most mailbox providers is rejecting the emails, right? So as a sender, you have to take a look at the delivery rates. The second one is unsubscribes. The other major thing at Google is Postmaster Tools. I highly recommend that everyone utilizes it. The best part is this: The domain owner can directly register for it by visiting the site. (You don’t have to depend on your ESP for the configuration.)

In summary, you have to keep a close eye on your engagement metrics. For example: When you get only 10% opens from a delivery rate of 98%, there’s definitely some issue. You can also monitor your deliverability using certain third-party tools: Return Path, 250ok, and more.

What are the various data points a sender should look at in Google Postmaster (to narrow down email-deliverability-based problems)? What are the thresholds one should check?

Gmail provides the traditional engagement metrics. If you’re looking at spam complaints, it’s available in Google Postmaster. You can also check your domain and IP reputation there. (Which is a valuable data point.) There’s also authentication results, which are important to know the stability of mechanisms like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

To answer the second question, there are no set or predefined thresholds. However, there are some industry standards for spam complaint rates. Less than 0.2% is a good place to be in. Having your bounce rates below 0.4% is a good benchmark. That said, your reputation is divided into four bands in Google Postmaster: high, medium, low, and bad.

If your reputation is high, you’ll have higher thresholds. If it’s poor, you don’t even want to hit 0.1% complaints. Threshold levels are dynamic. (It varies based on the reputation band.) So know which band you’re in and play around with the numbers.

Gmail has several tabs—social, updates, primary, and, particularly, promotions. So I wanted to ask this: Is the promotions tab really bad? Even if it’s not bad, what determines the placement of an email there?

This is one of the commonly asked questions. It’s a little frustrating too. We have to understand that the promotions tab is inbox; it’s not a spam folder. That said, I can understand the mindset of the senders: primary tab placement means better engagement rates.

Over time, filters have evolved to place the marketing emails in promotions. As a sender, we have to understand this: If a user enables tabs for their mailbox, it means they don’t want to see marketing emails in their primary tab. Earlier, I used to manually create several folders based on from addresses and more. The data fed to the filters is so much that they’re able to decide the placement of marketing emails. They’re making lives easier for the users. So we should try to leverage the promotions tab instead of fighting it. Remember, the users have the option to move your emails to the primary tab as well.

Coming to your next question, Gmail has a Natural Language Processing engine, specifically looking at the content of your email. Of course, they have machine learning capabilities to classify content based on data signals. (We don’t have to worry about this.) A study by 250ok found that one in four users didn’t configure tabs in their mailbox at all. Apple Mail and Outlook don’t have a tabbed structure for inboxes, right? I’d always look at leveraging the promotions tab.

Why not try Gmail’s email annotations if your email contains offers and deals? Use JSON script. It helps in bringing your emails to the top of the promotions tab in a very action-provoking manner.

I have a follow-up question, Sridhar. I’m seeing a lot of people discussing the usage of URLs in emails. They feel that using three or more URLs leads to the placement in the promotions tab. How far is it true?

First, I’d like to bust the myth here: it’s not true. Of course, there are no magic numbers in terms of the quantity of URLs. I’d prioritize the quality of the URLs over quality. When I say quality, I mean the destination of the URLs. You have to check whether it’s pointing to the website(s) you’re managing; you don’t want to use third-party URLs. I’ll not worry about the number of URLs. In Gmail, we know for a fact that the email gets clipped when its size exceeds a certain limit. This is something I’d look at rather than the number of URLs. You should also answer a couple of questions before sending an email: Is the HTML correct? Are the URLs specified out? You can also include a text version along with the HTML version (images) as most of the clients disable images by default.

Most emails received per day go to the spam folder. Gmail has a specifically different way of spam foldering. Usually they don’t mark many emails as spam. How should the email marketers see to it that they are not marked as spammers?

Also, can you please tell us how can the email marketer understand which subscriber is inactive and which subscriber is not?

There are no particular magic numbers for this so I will speak anecdotally.

Firstly, the destination of your email or where it’s going to land is decided even before you hit the send button. Factors like single opt-in, double opt-in, purchased lists, and so on are taken into account. The quality of your list is the first important thing you have to keep in mind. There are lot of ways by which you can go ahead and validate your list to ensure that typos and all those kinds of things can be taken care of.

Secondly, it’s about your audience, their engagement factor, active users and so on.

Industry best practice or threshold we have seen is somewhere around 90 days. It is supposed to be a good number within an active audience.

Create segments for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days active users and call them reputation superheroes. If you are getting a lot of spam complaints, suppress the older addresses and send mails to the 30 days active audiences to uplift your reputation. Gmail specifically takes a look at the engagement factor to ensure that you are sending emails to only those audiences who are consistently interactive.

Among segments, there will always be one such segment that contains the data of audiences with whom you have not interacted for a considerable period. Times like these call for you to look into your sunset policy and undertake re-engagement campaigns. Ask your audiences if they organically want to be a part of your lists or opt out. Repeat this periodically rather than once in two years when your emails are marked as spam.

Again, there are many ways to let your emails engage with your audience. Create journeys as simple as welcome journeys. This is underutilized by many senders and so they stay bereft of their benefits.

Also try to engage audiences with cart abandonment journeys. Keep a close tab on the engagement pattern and make amends in the creatives to fetch more engagement with the most appropriate content.

With automation, we are achieving time- and response-based user engagement. What are your views on automation?

 I will speak about this from a deliverability perspective. Gmail does look at the engagement and how frequently your users have engaged with your emails. Employing these journeys lets the filters know that you are sending to engaged audiences for improved reputation. It also allows the benefit of having a great reputation.

As I said, Gmail annotations are useful, but they alone cannot ensure a better position in the Promotions tab. To utilize this, you have to be at the top of your reputation game. Email journeys is a big help in achieving that.

What should be in the checklist of an email marketer with a great sending reputation while moving over from one email marketing platform to another? Which best practices will ensure a smooth transition?

If you already have an established reputation at a particular ESP and are moving to another one, you have to warm up (Domain and IP). This is because you are shifting to a new infrastructure.

You might traditionally send from one IP and one domain combination and then suddenly move on to another one. Gmail will consider that as a new signal so you have to warm up. Initially start sending out emails in slow volume instead of putting your foot on the accelerator.

Before starting, make sure that your infrastructure has everything in place. Complete all the authentication processes (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) and let Gmail consider your emails as authenticated traffic. Upon completion of the previous process, send emails to your most-engaged audiences. Take 10 percent from among the 30 days active users and shift them so that you can retain brand affinity even when emails are sent out from a different infrastructure.

Apart from this, there’s another thing that you need to monitor—the Google postmaster tools. Once you have done the transition from one ESP to another, looking at the signals in Google Postmaster tools will help. You can check whether your authentication is alright, if the domain reputation is dropping, and so on. Keep in mind that the data we see in Google postmaster tools is not real-time—there can be a delay of 48-72 hours. Pace out campaigns in such a way that you give enough time to those monitoring tools to update the data.

Apart from this, I would say that a traditional switchover can at least take two to four weeks. It again depends on the volume of subscribers you have. Check the time frame you need to give for a switchover from one ESP to another and also allow proper warm up to happen.

Now DMARC and BIMI are hot topics. How important are they for my inbox placement?

DMARC actually has three policies:

– p = None

– p = Quarantine

– p = Reject

P = quarantine and p = reject are the only enforcement policies, whereas P = none is actually a monitoring mode. The latter does not actually help the inbox providers as they are not making any decisions based on that DMARC policy. As an email marketer, you can begin with p = None. You wouldn’t lose anything with this, only that you have to go ahead and evaluate all your email traffic based on this DMARC policy.

The enforcement mode enables an advantage to senders for taking care of any spoofing and brand-related theft. You actually inform mailbox providers if the authentication is not in place so they can go ahead and spam folder or reject your emails. Just having authentication or DMARC in place is not going to ensure inbox placement. All the other signals we have been speaking for the previous hour are applicable.

BIMI right now is being utilized only at Yahoo. In Gmail you need to have an additional VMC certificate to utilize BIMI as there it is still in the beta stage. In Yahoo you don’t need that to utilize BIMI. I would say as a sender you need to first concentrate on getting into a DMARC enforcement policy as BIMI can still wait.

We say that some emails when opened have the option to either mark them as spam or hit unsubscribe. How does Gmail decide to show this and why doesn’t it show for all the senders?

The primary reason behind this is the domain reputation, and thus Gmail doesn’t decide to show this for all the senders. A mailbox provider wants to provide less information to a bad sender and as much information available to a good sender.

The second thing is including a list unsubscribe header, which is currently being prescribed by a lot of mailbox providers. Mail clients such as Apple Mail and Gmail clients pick the unsubscribe from list unsubscribe header and surface it to the subscriber or the user.

Elaborating a bit on list unsubscribe—the ‘unsubscribe‘ option in particular—it’s good to have the ‘unsubscribe’ in the footers, which is a requisite in some markets, but it’s also good to have it in the headers. The absence of that option might force your users to mark your mail as spam. It’s rather good to have it in both the places.

When I open the emails I see the ‘alert’ banners. We see banners like ’emails from this particular domain are marked as spam’ and ‘this mail is dangerous’ or ‘this link is dangerous’. How can a sender resolve this issue quickly and what is the use of it?

A lot of this is dependent on domain reputation. Rightly as those banners say, there are a lot of different rules that decide why a mail is placed in the spam folder apart from domain reputation being poor.

The other thing that makes your email look dangerous is a phishing signal. You might have a URL or something in the email that has phishing characteristics. In that case you might want to look at the content of your email, check all the URLs, and remove any URLs that are not hosted by you. I have seen people who break down the content of the email and send in different parts to troubleshoot where exactly the problem lies. There’s some effort involved if it’s a phishing-related issue.

The bigger picture is, ‘hey, my mails are going to spam folder, how do I get it back to inbox?’ So, reiterating what was mentioned previously, you need to have a good mailing list in place, looking at your audience, sending to an engaged audience, looking at your content, making sure that it’s structured in such a way that ensures your audiences are engaged and are going ahead and clicking the CTAs.

If you are already having a lot of spam complaints, then add an additional ‘unsubscribe’ at the top of your email instead at the bottom of your emails. It will give your users an easy opt-out rather than marking the email as spam. If you are getting spam foldered, I would suggest you do not look like a spammer, follow the best practices, ensure your sending emails to people who really want your email.

How long would it take to fix my domain reputation if I am following all the best practices?

It depends on the band of reputation in Google Postmaster tools. If you are somewhere amidst a very poor reputation, it would take around 4-6 weeks while following all the best practices. It takes time as it depends on the number of positive signals given by you to Gmail for returning to the inbox. Look at a long timeframe—if you are doing everything right, you will see the benefit.

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Experts weigh in on holiday email marketing in 2020

As we all know, the holiday season of 2020 is going to be unlike any other because of our “new normal.” This is why you’ll need to consider learning, unlearning, and relearning new strategies for email marketing during this unprecedented time.

The Zoho Campaigns team recently conducted a Twitter chat and webinar with a couple of email marketing experts on this, and we’d love for you to take a glimpse at what we discussed. Some of these tips are applicable for any year, but many of them here are to help you adjust to the changing needs in 2020. Let’s get started!

Holiday email marketing
Experts weigh in on holiday email marketing in 2020

Excerpts from Twitter chat #ZCampaignsChat

We had tweeted out seven different questions related to holiday season email marketing, and here’s what our experts had to tell us.

Q1. Given our “new normal” related to COVID-19, what twists and turns do you expect to encounter during the upcoming holiday season?

Bottom Line: More than in any recent time, there will be a rise in online shopping. So be careful to send emails that are relevant to the right people. This can be achieved with the help of list segmentation. Hold off on typical marketing or promotional emails and instead focus on targeted offers and promotions.


Q2. What are some of the best practices/experiments email marketers can try in these uncertain times?

 Bottom Line: Build trust and relationships with your contacts and start sending personalized email campaigns. Make use of automation in order to have meaningful targeted conversations with your contacts. This helps make them realize that you value them.


Q3. When do you recommend sending the first holiday email and how often should emails be sent?

 Bottom Line: You will have to start warming up people by sending them email campaigns at least a week ahead and leaving sufficient time for them to prepare for the holidays. Strategic timing for your emails matter the most for engaging with them.


Q4.  What are some basic questions that need to be addressed before sending holiday emails?

 Bottom Line: Holidays differ based on regions, so you ought to know your contacts based on each region. Find particular holidays in each region and plan your email campaigns one step ahead by segmenting your lists based on demographics. Then make sure to personalize each email with offers and promotions that are region-specific and relevant.


Q5. How do you deal with inactive contacts during the holiday season?

Bottom Line: Start sending them reactivation campaigns like special offers, preference updating options, and more. This will help you find people who’re somewhat interested in your brand/services. Once you identify the opened contacts, you can continue to engage with them to bring them back on board.


Q6. Holiday emails are also about visual content. What are some trends and interesting usage of visuals you like?

Bottom Line: Apart from including photographs of your products, make sure to give importance to GIFs, illustrations, and more. Combining an attractive flow of content with a relevant message will increase the chances of engagement, thus improving customer relationships and sales. Try using pre-built email templates or get creative to ensure your content is a visual treat for your contacts.


Q7. What are some tried and tested abandoned cart recovery email strategies that will result in revenue?

Bottom Line: Always remember that most customers abandon their carts unknowingly. So, consider your abandoned cart email as a reminder to help pull your customers back. When would your contacts like to receive these emails? You’ll have to test this and find out. We suggest you send the email within 24 hours of the cart abandonment. Also, make sure to add some urgency to the emails to start recovering sales.

Those are some insights from our Twitter discussion, but that’s not all the tips and tricks we have for you today.

Excerpts from our webinar with Liz Willits

Let’s now look at what email marketing strategist Liz Willits had to say in our recent webinar, How to adjust your 2020 holiday email marketing game to changing needs.

Here are 12 tips Liz discussed:

Be sensitive

As marketers, being sensitive to your audience is always very important, but it’s especially important when your audience is going through a lot. There are a few ways to work this right: 

  • Choose your words carefully
    Keep an eye on current events so you don’t end up sending emails that arrive at an inappropriate time.

  • Don’t make light of serious situations
    It’s better not to make jokes about things like COVID-19—it’s really hard to strike the right note on a joke or while making light of something serious.

  • Consider giving an extra offer
    If your audiences are being affected economically by COVID-19 and you think your product would be helpful to them, go the extra mile and help them with what you can. These are the times you might want to send them love by giving extra sales or offers.

  • Be aware of the different holidays 
    Take into account all the holidays your audience celebrates to make sure you’re sending them relevant holiday campaigns. For example, don’t send a Thanksgiving promotion to the part of your audience that lives in India, where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated.


Plan ahead

  • Many holidays like Black Friday, Hanukkah, and Christmas are going to come really soon, so have your content plan ready.

  • Start planning out your design elements now if you use heavily designed templates with different imagery. Start working with your design team well ahead since everyone will be busy with their personal lives on top of work. Get things ready by October or early November.

  • Don’t send your emails right on the holiday. For example, if it’s Black Friday, send your sale campaigns a week in advance. Do pre-holiday sale and post-holiday follow-up campaigns.

Don’t send too many emails

  • Avoid overwhelming your audience with too many emails—especially in 2020—because they have a lot going on in their lives already.

  • The best way you can do this is by providing an opt-out option for the sale campaign. This will let them opt out of that specific sale campaign and from your entire email list. Give them the right to choose what they want.

  • This is the time to be empathetic. Keep in mind the experience that they are having and try to show empathy in your tone rather than being salesy.

Use dynamic content to update your sales emails

Use dynamic content to update your holiday emails even after they’ve hit the inbox. For example, if you’ve sent a campaign on a flash sale and someone opens the campaign after the sale is over, they should read a banner that says, “Sorry, this sale is over, but you can still shop this week’s deals.” Dynamic content helps you stay relevant.


Write subject lines that stand out

Your audiences’ inboxes are flooded with emails during the holiday season, and your email will just remain unopened if you use ordinary subject lines. For example, do not just use “Merry Christmas” and talk about your newly launched product in your content. Use subject lines that are creative and that make you stand out, especially during the holiday season.


Make your copy easy to read

Don’t make your email content confusing, complicated, or heavy to read. Here are a couple of ways to create a readable and scannable copy:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points, and headlines to break up sections and paragraphs.

  • Use “you” instead of “we” or “I.” In other words, your angle should be about how your message benefits them. For example, don’t say “We just launched a new product.” Instead say, “You can get a 40% off on this new product.”


Keep your subscribers aware of important dates

It’s important to keep your subscribers informed of important dates like the last day of a sale or the last day to get a product shipped before Christmas. Highlight them in your subject lines with the time the sale ends.


Create gift guides

This is the best thing ecommerce businesses can do during the holiday season. Not just ecommerce—even B2Bs can do it. While ecommerce businesses can create gift guides for different gift categories such as Gifts for him, Gifts for her, and Gifts for friends, B2Bs can create gift guides like a guide for email marketers that includes their blog posts, tips, and tricks.


Clear is better than clever

Don’t try to be clever or cute in your content. People can’t waste their time on clever content. Rather, focus on what key idea needs to be delivered. This doesn’t mean your content needs to be to the point, but make sure you create curiosity in your audience’s mind to read your content.


Use alt text

Some people have turned off images in their inbox, or sometimes things can simply go wrong, so always place clear alternative text behind your image. That way recipients will still get your key messages and understand the context even if they can’t see the image.


Get festive

It’s fun season, so remember to excite your audience with your emails. Get festive! A great way to do this is through your email design. Go with a holiday game or holiday party theme, run giveaways, and find other ways to make your audience happy. Have fun with these little things in your emails during the holiday season.


Show off your product

This is very important for ecommerce businesses—it might seem straightforward, but it’s important to show your products to your audience. The best way to do this is by showing specific products that will excite your audience in the holiday email. This will get them to click the ones they’re interested in. This is a great way to take your recipients to your website and get them to purchase your products.

We hope these insights help you warm up your holiday email marketing strategy. Have fun creating content that resonates with your audience. Wishing you all a happy holiday season 🙂

– Team Zoho Campaigns

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Remote work and efficient file management

Remote work, once a privilege given to few, is now a viable alternative to the commute and grind of office life. As of June this year, an estimated 42% of the US labor force reported that they were working from home full-time, the highest it’s ever been. But as more and more businesses embrace remote work, a bigger question remains: what is the best way to boost collaboration between remote teams? 

Zoho Workplace for remote work

For most companies, the answer has been to use cloud-based file sharing and document management platforms. Cloud-based platforms, as a whole, are a godsend for remote workers, because they’re compatible on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, and can be accessed from literally anywhere. Massive enhancements and developments in cloud security over the last few years make this an even better option for businesses. However, when workers operate on different systems, the ability to collaborate, share, and interact becomes far more complicated.

For example, Google cloud-based servers require users to have a Gmail address. This means that your company email provider must be Google, unless workers log in from their personal email. Documents saved on Excel must be converted to Numbers if being sent to a MacBook using iWork. While so many businesses love cloud storage, many more complain about the lack of compatibility.

 In this guide, we’ll discuss the office suite applications of Zoho Workplace – Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, and Zoho Show, and why they’re great alternatives to other more cumbersome platforms. Ensuring your entire team uses Zoho for their collaborative efforts will minimize mix-ups and technical difficulties, and encourage collaboration with their easy-to-use design and functionality.

Furthermore, if your team uses Zoho, your data is guaranteed never to be sold to third parties for profit.

Zoho Writer—in your own words but better  

 Zoho Writer is the perfect platform to create text documents and easily share feedback in real time. One of its unique selling points is that it removes the toolbar function as writers are typing, allowing them to focus completely on the words in front of them. This “distraction-free” design helps workers stay on the task at hand. 

Writer is also equipped with aids to help you get the most out of your writing. The platform will give you a score based on your spelling, grammar, and several other important but often ignored criteria.

 The level of readability and style are scored based on the amount of run-on sentences present in a document. The checker also looks out for the overuse of polysyllabic words, and gives users their average sentence length. This is a great option for anyone who’s managing a remote team that’s brilliant, but also not exactly Shakespearian.

Zoho Writer makes it easy for businesses to achieve continuous integration, or the organic collaboration between cross-functional teams, through ensuring software is delivered painlessly, with no downtime during deployments.

The app can also be used in any browser, and document sharing is compatible with Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and even WordPress. And the platform comes with all the benefits found in an application like Microsoft Word, such as easy-to-use templates and digital signatures. 

One of the advantages of sharing files using Writer is that the document can be collaborated on, even by the people outside of the organization. In case you are conducting an interview, the interview candidate can be given a link to a test with edit access, as a password-protected file, with an expiry date and time. Once their time is up, the external link will automatically become inaccessible and the reviewer can check the trail of the file and go through the answers. Sharing using the candidate’s email address also ensures that the test is taken only by the intended participant. This feature can be further extended for co-authoring books, creating collaborative reports and so on.

Zoho Show—taking your slides to the next level   

Zoho Show is one of the most impressive apps found on Zoho—it’s a show-stealer, if you will. Zoho Show allows users to create powerful slide presentations with the ability to share via a URL. Collaborators can also comment on the document and track changes through the history function.

The slideshow platform allows presenters to create impressive animations. But perhaps the best feature is the function that allows users to record their presentations as if they were being virtually done live. This way, remote presenters can focus their energy on Q&A sessions while they can be rest assured that their presentation is flawless. 

The presentation can be published as well as broadcast in real time, and can be made accessible to non-members of the organization. 

Zoho Sheet—more data with less work  

Zoho Sheet lets you create spreadsheets, but with an added feature called Zia Insights that can convert your data instantly and automatically into pie charts and other graphics that add a bit of visual zest and readability to your data. It’s a great way to impress your boss, especially if they’re only used to Excel. There are also over three hundred and fifty built-in formulas, as well as the ability to create your own custom functions.

You can even program Zoho Sheet to retrieve data from Zoho Mail, Books, and many other Zoho apps. The seamless sharing and collaboration that can be achieved through Zoho means your workers only need a secure, stable internet connection to get the job done. A good rule is to make sure your internet can transmit at least 25 Mbps in order for data to travel fast enough and avoid lag issues.

And to add another layer of seamless collaboration to the mix, you can use Zoho Cliq to chat with colleagues and stakeholders, on top of the real-time data collaboration you get from Sheet. 


WorkDrive integrates all three of these collaboration apps, and acts as a single home for all of your office files. You can create your files in a team, group, or personal folder depending on your needs. Having a document in a Team Folder also allows you to control when your file is ready for the rest of the team and what level of access each member can have.


When it comes to remote work, nothing is more important than staying in sync. Don’t waste valuable time dealing with technical difficulties, hard-to-use platforms, or incompatible devices. Adopt a platform that’s easy to use so you can focus on doing what you need to do for the success of your business.

Author bio: Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is the CTO of Hosting Canada, a website that provides expert reviews on hosting services and helps readers build online businesses and blogs.

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Tips to improve remote communication and collaboration

Remote Communication and collaboration

With remote working conditions, your employees may find it difficult to interact and communicate with their colleagues. If this goes unchecked by your organization, they may develop a sense of loneliness and isolation, which in turn may lead to loss of employee morale and engagement.

Remote Communication and collaboration

To combat this, organize frequent virtual meetings and conversations between your employees. Need a starting point? Here are some ways to improve remote communication and collaboration in your organization:

  • Run virtual meetings regularly to help employees work as a team and generate new ideas. Choose the right meeting tool, allot time for casual chitchat.

  • Make your employees aware of all the communication channels available to them.

  • Educate your managers on how to improve communication among their team members.

  • Encourage a 360-degree feedback system that supports employee recognition and helps employees understand their performance from different perspectives.

  • Use virtual idea boards to keep all your employees on the same page.

  • Conduct fun virtual activities that can help your employees relax.

Read more about these tips to improve remote communication in our HR Knowledge Hive.

Net Universe offers all Zoho subscritpions and consultant services with worldwide Delivery Services.
Send us an email to [email protected] for more information or visit