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Understand graymail and avoid sending email to unengaged contacts

Last updated: August 26, 2021

Applies to:

All products and plans

Learn more about graymail, and how to improve your engagement rates with HubSpot's graymail suppression feature. In the Recipients tab of your marketing emails, select the Don't send to unengaged contacts checkbox to automatically exclude contacts who aren't interacting with your marketing emails.

What is graymail?

Graymail is email that contacts have opted in to receive, but never open or click. Spam filters can identify and filter out emails that your recipients aren't opening or clicking. This increases the likelihood that future emails will end up in the junk folder or spam filter. By continuing to send email to contacts who don't open or click, you're lowering your sender score overall.

How does HubSpot calculate unengaged contacts?

Using the Sends since last engagement property, HubSpot's graymail suppression feature automatically excludes any contacts who have not been engaging with your marketing emails. A contact will be categorized as unengaged if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Never opened a marketing email from you and hasn't opened the last 11 emails you've sent them.
  • Previously opened a marketing email from you but haven't opened the last 16 emails you've sent them.

You can also see a complete list of contacts that will be excluded from a specific email.

Create a sunset policy to manage disengaged contacts

Sending to disengaged contacts will increase the likelihood that your future emails will be automatically moved to the recipient's spam or junk folder. To mitigate this, you can create a sunset policy to help you manage your disengaged contacts and maintain a healthy email sending reputation.

A sunset policy is a plan for regularly determining which contacts aren't engaging with your emails, attempting to re-engage with them to confirm their interest, and removing any contacts who remain uninterested and unengaged. Learn more about how to create and execute on a sunset policy.

If you'd like to automatically avoid sending email to unengaged contacts by default, you can follow the instructions below.

Manage graymail suppression for a specific email

To configure graymail suppression for an individual marketing email:

  • In your HubSpot account, navigate to Marketing > Email.
  • Hover over an existing email and click edit, or create a new email.
  • Click the Send or schedule tab.
  • Select the Don't send to unengaged contacts checkbox to enable this setting.

  • To see a complete list of recipients that would be excluded with this feature enabled, click the unengaged contacts link.

Please note: HubSpot retains the engagement history of your marketing email recipients. If you delete then recreate an unengaged contact, they will still be excluded if you enable graymail suppression.

You can see whether the Don't send to contacts with low engagement setting was Enabled in the email details. You'll also see these contacts in the Not sent tab of your sent marketing email.


Manage graymail suppression for all marketing email (Marketing Hub Starter, Professional, and Enterprise only)

You can enable the Don't send to unengaged contacts feature by default in your email settings. The Don't send to unengaged contacts toggle will be switched on by default.

  • In your HubSpot account, click the settings settings icon in the main navigation bar.
  • In the left sidebar menu, navigate to Marketing > Email
  • Click the Subscriptions tab.
  • Click to toggle the Don't send to unengaged contacts switch on to enable this feature for newly created or cloned emails by default. 

Please note: the Don't send to unengaged contacts switch affects the default setting when you send marketing emails. This setting will be overridden for an individual email if you clear the Don't send to unengaged contacts checkbox on the Send or schedule tab.