Gmail Gives You One More Reason to Get In the Address Book

Address BookGetting subscribers to whitelist you sure is a popular permission email marketing topic lately.

Fresh on the heels of Yahoo’s announcement that users can choose to view only emails from their contacts, Gmail is making a change of its own that makes email from contacts more usable and readable than email from non-contacts.

They’re not making a separate inbox for contacts, but they are changing one important part about how they treat emails from certain contacts:

Images On By Default For (Some) Contacts

Gmail recently announced that they’ll be enabling images for certain people in users’ contact lists.

The details:

  1. You must be in the Gmail user’s contact list.
  2. You must be authenticating your emails using SPF or DKIM (AWeber does).
  3. The Gmail user must have sent you at least 2 emails. (They note that this is a starting-out threshold that may change.)

Read the announcement on the official Gmail blog.

“You Mean Subscribers Have to Email ME?”

Yep – getting them to list you in their address books is step #1, but they’ll also have to email you a couple times before images will be on by default.

But that’s OK. In fact, it’s a great reason to do something you should already be doing anyway: ask your subscribers for feedback!

Have them email you their thoughts on your emails…

  • What they like
  • What they don’t like
  • What they want you to discuss in future emails

… and not only will you be on your way to meeting Gmail’s requirements for having images on by default, you’ll gain invaluable insight into how you can improve your emails.


  1. John

    7/28/2009 8:19 am

    I must admit that I have not been using AWEBER as I should and I have missed out on a lot of opportunities for my business. Now that I have taken the time to really investigate the depth of why you are the leader, I will always use AWEBER. Thank you for a great service.

  2. Chris Wheeler

    7/28/2009 8:40 am

    Nice article. What about incentivizing the recipient to email you (the sender) back? Perhaps some sort of promotion, offer for a whitepaper, or even enter their name in a contest.

    For mass mailers, if Gmail moves the threshold up from 2, we could find ourselves really having to think outside the box and redesign the relationship with customers to be more 2 way.

  3. Justin Premick

    7/28/2009 8:50 am


    I think that idea has a lot of potential, although with a threshold at 2 (with the possibility of increasing) I have to wonder if you’d actually get enough back-and-forth to meet Gmail’s requirements.

    It seems to me that inviting feedback is more conducive to creating a conversation and having subscribers email you a couple/few times. But there’s no reason you couldn’t do both (feedback and an incentive) in separate emails.

  4. John C. A. Manley

    7/28/2009 10:00 am

    Thanks for the information.

    I’m a little confused on which email I should be telling my lists to whitelist:

    1. The "cloaking" email e.g.

    2. Or

    3. Or both?

    Could you please let me know (by email if possible).

  5. Justin Premick

    7/28/2009 10:02 am


    Excellent question.

    You want them to add your address (the one that shows in the "from" line) to their contact list.

  6. Greg Nemer

    7/28/2009 10:15 am

    I’m Thinking that all of this is really going to work hand in hand really well everyone’s Google Profile which is also a somewhat new service.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to use all of Google’s services. I know they have a plan for an all in one super service.

    Can you explain more on how you think this works with the Google Profile page?


  7. Serge Rodriguez

    7/28/2009 10:42 am

    It would be nice on the part of aweber if you guys can come up with a survey questionarie type of idea like monkeysurvey or something that can be sent, where people can quickly and effectively type their answers to help with these 2 emails requirement new gmail rule.

  8. Devin Best

    7/28/2009 12:13 pm

    I agree with Serge. This may not be the forum for this, but we need surveying anyway, Justin.

    Is this going to happen?

  9. Justin Premick

    7/28/2009 12:24 pm


    I’m not really sure how this ties into Google Profiles. I’m not sure it does, really, since you don’t have to have a Google Profile to be in a Gmail user’s contact list.

    Serge & Devin,

    Surveys would not have anything to do with this since the rule is based on subscribers emailing you, rather than clicking a survey link. While we could conceivably add surveys at some point, I’m not aware of it as a development priority.

    If you’d like to expand on your suggestion, why not email us with details of what exactly you’d like to be able to do with surveys that you can’t currently do using a service like Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey?

  10. Greg Clow

    7/28/2009 2:01 pm

    I help small businesses build their own professional logos. I would solve this two email hurdle by creating an autoresponder email tree, asking my client to follow four steps to get a certain free incentive: 1) email me back (one email to me), 2) my email rsponder automatically emails them back and asks them to email me one more time for some added bonus or even just to satisfy Gmail, 3) they email me a second time, 4) autoresponder send them to download link automatically for their gift. I would send this out to only my Gmail customer list, of course.

  11. John Wilson

    7/28/2009 6:24 pm

    Do you think that asking a Gmail recipient to Reply to an email would count as an email from them?

    A reply might be the easiest to pull off ?

  12. Yee Shun Jian

    7/29/2009 6:00 am

    I must say getting feedback from subscribers is a great idea. I was away on holidays a few months back and when I returned… I sent out a mail to my subscribers to update them with my travel pictures… and asking for comments/feedbacks

    I got a great response with many telling me they love the pictures.

    It’s an awesome way to build a relationship with your list.

  13. Glenda Watson Hyatt

    7/29/2009 1:15 pm

    Until gmail subscribers email you twice, do they still have the option to choose "Always display images from xyz"? Or, will images appear as placeholders until after the second email?

  14. yoav shalev

    8/1/2009 4:46 pm

    is there a chance the confirmation link into a reply email. meaning instead of having them click on a link that will confirm their subscription then to have them reply to your email and that way they confirm subscription?

  15. frank burns

    8/2/2009 4:10 pm

    It would work under a similar example such as FOAF. When you’ve created your certificate and you need to have it marked and signed by someone else then, have it returned to you, it demonstrates the effectiveness of good online security.

    Nothing else could compromise or attack you if you stick to the right path and as we move forward online, we really do have to adapt and apply every new barrier to secure our information from hackers and thieves.

    Google are soon launching Google Wave and even with their system, we will all have to learn to apply the sciences into our email programs.

  16. Mitch Baldwin

    8/8/2009 1:21 pm

    The best part of the info Aweber is giving us here is to remember to ask for customer feedback. Unless you have a crystal ball I would put this advice on your to do list and take action asap.

  17. Vijay

    8/12/2009 6:41 am

    Thanks Justin,
    Wow sometimes we work better under pressure, It is time to be more engaging with my readers, send them polls, ask for their opinion AND Reply them back.

  18. Troy C

    8/12/2009 4:56 pm

    We dont use aweber…Yet, lol.
    But we encourage Our clients too.
    The fact that getting listed in someones inbox is more benificail than whats being explained here.

    Did you know that 15% of social networking users import their email contacts? which gmail already blocks most spam.

    That means if by default if they dont forget to check and just import will be already be included, but you still have to request to be added to their sn accounts. You are more likely to be added as they consider you safe and usually add you.

    Anyway I think Gmails email protection is one of the best and yes this could be a hassle but,..they always pull thru.

    Vijay has an important conclusion too.
    It is time to be more engaging with my readers, send them polls, ask for their opinion AND Reply them back.


  19. Jared

    8/14/2009 8:23 am

    Interesting, very interesting will have to consider this when using my aweber account and mails. I often wonder how this worked thanks for clearing it up.

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  22. Leslie

    12/18/2009 10:39 am

    I like these ideas- thanks!

    I am new to Aweber, still trying to decipher & set up forms.

    Just to clear this up- are you referring to the client opting in as their #1 response and then one other form of contact from client, regardless of which page they reply from on your web as their # 2 response. Is this correct?

    If so, is it possible to have your first follow-up email be set up as a multiple choice, much like one of your web forms? Can a web form be used in the follow up section?

    Also, is it possible to connect Outlook or Quickbooks through aweber or vice versa?


  23. Kevin Njoroge

    1/22/2010 4:14 am

    As always, great stuff you can’t find anywhere else.

  24. Robert Flournoy

    1/27/2010 6:39 pm

    This is a bit difficult to pull off because we’re always trying to make our communications as impactful as possible. I’ve been an aweber client for years.. and have leveraged all the functionality… it’s a must have.