Email Productivity Removes 2.8 Billion Graymail Messages from Inboxes in Its First Year

In its first year, Email Productivity transformed employee productivity by removing promotional emails from inboxes. Discover our main takeaways, investments we've made in the product, and what to expect next.
August 23, 2023

Today marks one year since Email Productivity was released. This product was built to address one of the biggest drains on employee productivity– those pesky promotional emails commonly known as graymail. Statistics show that a staggering 70% of employees feel that their inbox is a drain on productivity, with graymail being the main culprit. A study quantified the effect of graymail by finding that the average employee wastes two business days per year sifting through graymail in their inbox. Eliminating those distractions can yield serious benefits for organizations.

About Email Productivity

Abnormal Inbound Email Security helps organizations stop the most damaging and sophisticated socially-engineered email attacks that bypass traditional security solutions. To accomplish this, we adopted a fundamentally different approach with an API-based architecture utilizing behavioral AI-based detection. As this product developed, our customers explained the potential benefits of employing our technology to intelligently remove graymail from inboxes. We invested resources to address this customer concern and released Email Productivity in August 2022.

Email Productivity detects graymail with high precision by applying signals from Microsoft 365. Once identified, graymail is moved out of inboxes and into a promotions folder. Email productivity is adaptive and self-learning, creating a personalized approach to graymail depending on how users interact with their emails. When combined with Abnormal’s Inbound Email Security, Email Productivity results in an enhanced user experience stopping malicious, spam, and promotional emails.

With Email Productivity hitting its one-year anniversary, I’m excited to share some of our observations, including, what we’ve learned in the last year, investments we’ve made in the product, and what to expect as the product continues to mature.

Three Things We've Learned

1. There is A LOT of Graymail

In a single year of operation, Email Productivity has identified and removed approximately 2.8 BILLION graymail messages from inboxes. Employees spend an average of ten seconds per email, meaning that Email Productivity has saved its customers more than 7 MILLION hours. This valuable time that would have otherwise been spent combing through graymail can now be reinvested into productive activities. At an individual level, we discovered that, on average, employees receive anywhere from three to eight graymail messages a day.


2. Executives are the Biggest Target

Email Productivity now identifies and removes graymail from more than 80,000 executive inboxes. We’ve been able to confirm that executives receive 230% of the graymail volume that other employees receive. This can bottleneck executives and/or their assistants who have to spend significant amounts of time combing through the graymail. Because of this, Email Productivity is especially beneficial to executives. In the Abnormal dashboard, Email Productivity reports both overall time savings and time saved specifically for its VIPs.


3. Email Productivity Improves SOC Productivity

Customers have shared a benefit of Email Productivity that we didn’t necessarily expect when we released it. Email Productivity not only eliminates the time spent configuring and tuning traditional graymail filtering. It also reduces the time spent triaging and remediating potentially malicious emails reported by users. Customers reported a decrease in the number of user-reported phishing emails when Email Productivity was deployed. This benefits SOC teams that can spend upwards of 30 hours a week triaging and responding to user-reported phishing emails.

New Features of Email Productivity

Acknowledging the real-world implications of graymail and its effect on productivity, Abnormal has invested significant engineering resources to enhance this product over its first year. The improvements were centered around increasing the detection rate of graymail, further improving its ability to decrease the distractions resulting from unnecessary emails.

New features released during the first year include:

  1. Delegate management support to recognize end-user movements for mailboxes by delegates. This update improves the effectiveness of Email Productivity by removing graymail for its most common target—executives.

  2. A new detector that extends the signals and attributes used for detecting graymail based on message folder movements, engagement with email, and inbound statistics of mass mail. This enhancement improved detection efficacy by 15%.

  3. The ability for analysts to filter graymail detections in Search and Respond.

  4. Global safelisting; allowing customers and analysts to proactively safelist messages and senders that Email Productivity might detect as promotional, but still block if deemed malicious.

What’s Next

As long as organizations continue to struggle with filtering out graymail, we will continue to innovate and improve Email Productivity. Email Productivity was born from customer feedback. We want to hear from you! If you have suggestions on how to improve Email Productivity, please consider reaching out to your customer success representative or contacting us here.

Our current priority for Email Productivity enhancement is creating parity for Google Workspace customers. Currently, Email Productivity is only available to Microsoft users. We aim to change that by extending compatibility to Google customers.

Learn More

It’s been an exciting first year for Email Productivity! If you’re interested in seeing how Abnormal’s Inbound Email Security product, combined with Email Productivity can secure your organization from inbound email threats and remove those pesky graymail messages from inboxes, schedule a demo today!

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Email Productivity Removes 2.8 Billion Graymail Messages from Inboxes in Its First Year

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