Education Marketing Trends

Email Whitelisting and Blacklisting: How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Emails

By March 4, 2020March 14th, 2023No Comments

A Quick Guide to Email Whitelisting and Blacklisting

Never miss another email with these whitelisting and blacklisting best practices

Whether you’re an education marketer who wants to ensure your messages land in your subscribers’ inboxes or an email recipient who wants to confirm your emails aren’t getting lost, understanding email whitelisting and blacklisting is critical to your business.

What is email whitelisting?

Whitelisting is the process of adding an email to an approved sender list, so emails from that sender are never moved to the spam folder. Instead, when a recipient whitelists an email address, they are confirming that they know and trust the sender. This tells an email server (like Gmail) to move messages to the inbox directly. It’s that simple.

A quick example: you attended a digital webinar on journey mapping, and the presenter sent a follow-up message. By adding the presenter’s email address to your whitelist, you ensure that future communications from that person will not be hijacked by your spam filter and will turn up in your Inbox as planned.

How do I whitelist an email sender?

Whitelisting is not complicated but can take a few tries if you’ve never done it. The process is different for various email clients. To simplify this task for you, we have outlined whitelisting procedures for a few of the most popular email clients.

Email Whitelisting for Gmail

Gmail is one of the most popular email services on the market, and the Gmail client is used by both individuals and businesses. To set your email whitelisting in Gmail, follow these simple steps.

First, find the email you received from the sender you want to whitelist, and start by adding the sender to your contact list. Then, create a custom Gmail filter. To do so, click on the gear icon, and select Settings. 

Select filters and blocked addresses from the navigation bar at the top of the page, then click on the create a new filter link.

Scroll down and click create a new filter for your email whitelisting notes

Add the email address you’d like to whitelist in the “From” field, then click Create filter.

Enter the email address you'd like to whitelist in the 'From' field and then click 'Create filter'

Finally, check never send it to spam, (optional: select always mark it as important), then click create filter. From there, you will be good to go.

Check never send it to spam, and then create filter

How to set-up an email whitelist if you use Microsoft Outlook

The process is fairly similar for Microsoft Outlook, though there are two ways to accomplish the task:

  1. Select a message from the sender. Click through the following links to whitelist the sender: Home > Junk > Never Block Sender or Never Block Sender’s Domain


  1. Select a message from the sender. Right-click the selected message and choose Junk > Never Block Sender from the dropdown menu. From there, a dialog box will notify you that the selected address has been added to your safe senders list.

Select "Never Block Sender" to establish valuable email whitelisting rules.

Photo Credit: Michael Smart PR

How to whitelist a sender if you use Mac Mail

Apple has always done things their own way, and whitelisting is no exception. Here are our quick steps for whitelisting a sender in Mac Mail.

  1. Select Mail > Preferences
  2. On the top of that window, click the Rules tab, then select Add Rule
  3. Set up the rule (use the following settings as an example):
    1. Description: CB&A
      If [any] of the following conditions are met: [From] [contains] [] Perform the following actions: [Move Message] to mailbox: [Inbox]
  4. Next, click OK to save the rule.

Setting up email whitelisting rules in Apple Mail is simple!

We’ve covered whitelisting, but what is email blacklisting?

Both techniques are useful for marketers and regular users. That said, email blacklisting is especially important for marketing teams. According to HubSpot, an email blacklist is a list of IP addresses or domains a blacklist operator has determined are sending emails to accounts that didn’t willingly subscribe. Simply put, a blacklist is a list of senders who have been deemed as spammers.

When a sender is blacklisted, their messages will either be sent directly to the spam folder, or will be blocked entirely – i.e., they will be labeled as “undeliverable” for the sender, and usually, returned with a bounce-back notice.

How can brands avoid being blacklisted?

  • Have an effective opt-in email strategy in place.
  • Review and clean your brand’s email subscriber list regularly – we love this list from Hello Bar.
  • Never, ever add a contact to a subscriber list without receiving the proper permissions. This is the easiest way to get into trouble with email clients like Gmail and Outlook.

Bonus Tip: Check if you’re on an email blacklist by using a reputable tool, such as Sender Score, MX Toolbox or Experte’s Spam Checker.

There you have it – whitelisting and blacklisting made simple.

Email Marketing Tips: Email Whitelisting helps approved senders land in your inbox, instead of the Spam folder.

If you enjoyed our quick guide to email whitelisting and blacklisting, let us know. And, if you have an email marketing question, you can always contact our team of experts.

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