Could Inbox Filters Be Killing Your Open Rate?

I love Bed Bath & Beyond, especially their 20% off coupons and in-store policy to accept expired coupons. It’s like Black Friday every time I go in and stock up on stuff for the bedroom, bathroom, and beyond! With all that shopping, it should come as no surprise that I also subscribe to their email list with not one but multiple email addresses to stock up on those coupons. I also like to see when BBBY does some creative email marketing and split test their subject lines.

BBBY is a heavy email marketer, sending email everyday to my inbox. And with multiple addresses, I’m getting a lot. I also don’t need to open these emails until I’m ready to go shopping, so I’m one of those lowering their engagement metrics – sorry. To avoid cluttering my inbox, I’ve created an email filter to move these messages to a PROMO folder/label I’ve created in Gmail. I use this folder to ‘set aside’ all my shopping emails that I don’t want to see in my ‘inbox’, especially within my iOS mail client.

While checking my email today, I noticed my three daily BB&B emails come into my regular Promotions tab which threw me for a loop. Why weren’t they in my PROMO folder? Did BBBY change up something that is outside of my filter rules? I was perplexed and of course wanted to get to the bottom of why my rules weren’t being followed!

I hit the nail on the head with my initial thinking. BBBY did change up a part of their email marketing – their from address and ESP.

BBBY usually sends from: Bed Bath & Beyond ( using Zeta Global.

Today, they sent from: Bed Bath & Beyond (BedBath&, a new local-part and domain, as well as using Responsys.

Ah, so that’s why my filters didn’t work. But, why did BBBY do that?

  • Is BBBY changing from Zeta Global to Responsys
  • Were there issues with their Zeta Global account and needed to use their backup?
  • Did BBBY test their non-engaged subscribers with Responsys?
  • Will I continue to get emails from both ESPs?

So, how could filters be killing your open rate? If you have subscribers like me, I could go months without opening an email from you and could really be bringing down your open rates and overall engagement. Taking an idea from what BBBY did with their most recent email, I would suggest you switch up not only your subject lines and messaging with your re-engagement campaigns, but look at how you could filter yourself out of some inbox rules your subscribers have in place.

I wouldn’t suggest changing the domain of your from address for reputation reasons, but you could add a subdomain or send from a different local-part. Both of these changes should keep your reputation intact while also tripping any from email address filters your subscribers may have created and possibly getting some eyes back on your forgotten messages. What I would never suggest you do is use your transactional settings (IP addresses or email addresses) to use for your marketing mail. That’s just not smart marketing.

Once you’ve identified subscribers that wake up from the dead, make sure you target them differently with your messaging. These subscribers have gone a long time and/or have received many messages that they didn’t engage with, so change the frequency you send to them. Don’t get any ideas, BBBY, I still want those coupons!

Happy Sending!