How Responsible Newsletter Senders Can Rise Above the Noise

The Gated Team
November 14, 2022

Recently, more and more people who send newsletters are faced with this frustrating situation: You’ve invested to build an audience who opts-in to your content and yet… when you send your newsletter, you get a ‘Challenge Email’ reply from Gated!  

To be clear: We believe that if a user signs up for your newsletter (indicating they want to receive your content) you should be able to reach their inbox without a barrier.  But yours is not the only email in their inbox...

Today, 82% of people saying they miss emails because of a cluttered inbox.  The hard truth is that automation and a flood of irrelevant emails have made it hard for high-quality, opt-in content (like yours, right?) to rise above the noise.  

By reducing the noise of unsolicited emails in the inbox, Gated paves the way for thoughtful, responsible marketers to stand out.  Gated’s founder, Andy Mowat, had a long career in Marketing Operations (at Box, CultureAmp, and Upwork) during which he and his teams sent billions of email newsletters.  He understands the pain of both sending and receiving email. 

And so the solution created by Gated is one designed to ease email for the user - but not at the cost of well-intentioned senders. It’s a novel approach and (yes, we’ll admit) even slightly uncomfortable at first.  Curious to learn more? 

This article was written to explain how our approach will better empower responsible senders to reach their audience in a truly human-centric way.  

How to tell a newsletter is being sent responsibly

Have you ever seen an opt-out message for a newsletter that looked like this👇?  Unfortunately, even the companies helping people send newsletters don’t know if a given newsletter is responsible - or not.

What is responsible?  At a minimum, a responsible newsletter is one to which every recipient has opted-in.  As the example above makes clear, sometimes people don't even remember or know when they've signed up for an email. At a higher level, one could reference Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who once said: “You know it when you see it”.

Our team is working with top email marketers to find ways that better allow thoughtful senders to deliver content responsibly.

How Gated works for newsletters

Here’s a bit more about how Gated works, so you can understand what happens to your inbound email - and what to do when you see a Gated Challenge Email. 

  • Gated users have an Allow List made up of individual senders and domains they choose to see in their inbox.  On signup, Gated automatically allows emails from anyone the user has sent to.  Because newsletters often come from an email the user has never sent to, a new Gated user’s inbound newsletters may be diverted from the user’s inbox initially. 
  • Gated users can easily allow your newsletter.  Any email that is Gated will go to a side folder (the Gated folder); we never delete any emails.  With a single click, the user can allow your email to reach their inbox - along with any messages from you in the future.
  • Senders may donate or verify they know the user to reach them.  If a user has legitimately signed up for your newsletter, but you get a Challenge Email from them: you should click the bypass option in the Challenge Email.  This one action will allow any emails from your address going forward - unless the user subsequently chooses to remove your email address from their Allow List.
  • We don’t send Challenge Emails to bots.  Traditionally, people send emails from [email protected], [email protected], and our personal favorite: [email protected]   When Gated sees there isn’t a person on the other end of a sent email, we will not send a Challenge Email to that address. 
  • Gated never looks at the contents of our users’ email.  We believe deeply in user privacy and we have observed the negative impacts on deliverability and content quality, when AI interprets the quality of email.   Instead, Gated determines who someone knows and trusts based solely on the to/from fields of email. 
tl;dr Receiving a Challenge Email doesn’t mean you've done anything wrong.  It just means that the recipient hasn't yet sent an email to your address or specifically added you to their list of allowed senders.  

How can Gated help my newsletter stand out in the inbox?

Gated’s mission is to give users back control of their attention.  On the way to achieving that, we have a plan to build features that will make it easy and automatic to add opted-in newsletters to a user’s Allow List.  

In the meantime, here are a few tactical ways you can work with Gated to improve the process:

  • Mute Challenge Emails:   If you don't want to see Gated Challenge Emails, we can add you to our Global Unchallenged List.   This won’t change how your emails are handled in the user’s inbox, but it will quiet the noise on your end.
  • Help us make email better and get added to our Default Allow List:  If you believe in our mission to reduce the noise and increase responsible marketing, contact [email protected].   We are working with a select group of marketers to build Gated’s Best Practices for Newsletters (coming soon) and those senders will be added to Gated’s Default Allow List.  People who use Gated will still have the power to choose if you remain on their Allow List, but your newsletter will start in the inbox.  
  • Get Gated:  Marketing and Operations professionals not only send emails.  You also get hammered by vendors and irrelevant sales pitches. If this sounds like you, signup today for free to take back control of your attention.

We are dedicated to helping people focus on communication from people and companies they want to hear from.  If you’ve got thoughts on the matter, our CEO and Founder, Andy Mowat would love to hear from you:  [email protected]