If you do email marketing, you’ve heard about the dreaded Spam Folder. 😨

However, is it as bad as it sounds? Isn’t there a way to avoid it?

Actually, there are several steps on how to prevent emails from going to spam.

In this guide, we’ll give you some ideas about how to avoid the spam folder, and how to keep your email deliverability high. Shall we?

What Is Spam?

In email marketing, the term “spam” is used to denote undesired email messages, messages sent without the reader’s permission, or even messages from a sender with a bad reputation.

Your emails can land in spam for many reasons, including your recipients marking your messages as spam. Sometimes, it’s not your fault; but there are things you can do to avoid this happening to your email campaigns. 📮

Why Do My Emails Land In The Spam Folder?

There are a few reasons why your emails can land in the spam folder rather than the inbox.

It can be the spam filter of your recipient that blocks your email. Email providers have improved their spam filters a lot over time, but mistakes happen. These filters can be triggered by the amount of emails you send at a time, by keywords they find in your email (mostly your subject line), by your IP address (which happens with a lot of email marketing providers)… 📝

At the same time, if your content is irrelevant for your readers, they might also mark you as spam. Once again, there are tactics you can use to prevent this.

How to Prevent Emails From Going to Spam

Tips On How To Prevent Emails From Going To Spam

1. Follow CAN-SPAM/GDPR/CASL Rules

CAN-SPAM and similar policies exist to protect internet users' privacy. Commercial emails (email marketing) must comply with these policies or the senders risk having to pay very hefty fines. So, as you can guess, compliance is mandatory. Most countries have their version of CAN-SPAM: in Europe, there’s GDPR, and CASL in Canada.

There are many rules and regulations applied by CAN-SPAM and similar acts, but we’ll stick to the main ones. 🔐

Header Information

In email, the header is the part that includes the “From”, “Reply-To”, “FW” and other essential info. The information in your header must be reliable and true – some spammers use FW in order to get readers to open the email, as it usually means a message was forwarded to them and could be important.

Subject Line

Before readers open your email, they choose to do so based on the subject line. If you have a subject line that does not match the email content, or that is misleading to recipients, you need to rephrase it.

Ad Disclosure

There are many ways to do this, but it must be clear in your email that it is a commercial message. You can add some template text at the bottom of your message that specifies it is an advertisement, as an example.

Physical Address

According to CAN-SPAM, you have to provide a physical address for your business, usually, at the footer of the message. Most email marketing providers won’t even let you send anything if you don’t specify a true physical address.

Opting Out

Make it easy for recipients to opt out. Failure to do so will often result in your content being marked as spam. 📬

Honor Opt-Out Requests

If someone wants to unsubscribe to your messages, make it easy to do so. It’s annoying to request to unsubscribe and then have to wait for 2 weeks to be removed from the list. Make it simple and remove any unnecessary steps.

Agencies Acting On Your Behalf

If you don’t do your email marketing in-house, you are still responsible for anything sent by the agency you hired. So, make sure you stay very hands-on – not micromanaging, but assessing that the content that is being sent on your behalf complies with these requirements.

How To Prevent Emails From Going To Spam

2. Only Email Users That Have Opted In

It might be tempting to buy an email list if you’re just beginning and don’t have many contacts to email. However, this is a common mistake that can cost you your reputation as a sender.

We recommend not going for cold email (when you send emails to someone who hasn’t requested them), but rather to email only those that have opted in. To allow your visitors to opt in, create a form on your website in which you ask for their email address. Keep the opt-in form short and sweet to make it as easy as possible for the users. 👩‍💻

There are many ways to go about this. You can offer an ebook, a cheatsheet related to your business, or other freebie that will get visitors’ attention. That makes it easier to ask for their email address as you are providing value right from the first contact.

We also recommend double opt-ins. These require the user to click on a link in the first email they receive, confirming the opt-in again.

This will prevent most contacts from marking you as a spammer, as they are really interested in getting emails from you.

3. Avoid Spammy Keywords On Your Subject Line

You might not be aware of it, but email service providers have a list of keywords that land you in the spam folder – almost 100% of the time. These keywords are usually associated with scams and shady tactics to “get rich quick”, just to name a few.

In this article from Small Biz Trends, you can find a short list of the keywords that are often found in subject lines for spam emails. These include terms like “multi-level marketing” (which is a different name for pyramid schemes), “free consultation”, “call now”, “while you sleep”… and so on.

Take good notice of these terms and avoid them not only in the subject line, but, if possible, in your email body as well. 🗣️

4. Ask Readers To Whitelist Your Email Address

This might not always work in your favor, but if done correctly, can be wonderful for your deliverability. If you’re not sure about what email deliverability is, we recommend taking a look at this email deliverability guide.

There are many related metrics and indicators, so we won’t go through them at this point for the sake of brevity.

Give your readers value from the beginning. The first email you send must define expectations and, at the same time, offer something of value, like a useful resource or just a warm welcome to your community. Then, you can ask for them to whitelist your email address so they can make sure not to miss out on new content. 🗒️

For more information on whitelisting, please take a look at our quick guide on whitelisting emails.

5. Pay Attention To Spam Score & Sender Reputation

As we mentioned before, a lot of factors are taken into account when measuring the deliverability of your emails. The same can be said about deciding if your email should be delivered to the inbox, or to the spam folder.

Your spam score and sender reputation are two of the main indicators that determine where your message will go. They refer to your history as an email sender (if there is one, which is a factor by itself) and other things like your IP address. Your IP can be shared, which is usually the case, or you can pay extra for a dedicated IP address which you are responsible for. 🙅‍♂️

When you use a dedicated IP address, whatever happens with your IP is up to you. If you get a high spam score, it is due to your own activity.

If you use a shared IP, it’s up to your email marketing provider to decide on how to maintain a high sender reputation.

Platformly uses dedicated IPs. All activity is monitored to make sure nobody damages the IPs’ reputation, and we don’t accept cold emailing, as it is against our terms of service.

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6. Warm Up Your Email List

We strongly recommend against sending a large batch of emails at a time, especially when you’re first starting out. Therefore, you need to “warm up” your email list.

Warming up means to send a short sample email to a few users in your list, and then increase the amount of recipients gradually until you’re sending your messages to your whole audience. 🔥

Many email service providers, or even your email marketing platform, can mark your message as spam if you start your campaign by sending too many emails at once. So, warming up is always a good idea.

7. Have A Consistent Schedule

You shouldn’t go in cold, but at the same time you need to keep up the pace, putting into practice what you describe in your welcome email.

Different industries have different notions of what is considered a desirable frequency. One way to know this is to subscribe to your competitors’ mailing lists and see if there is a pattern. 🕒

This exercise will also give you ideas that you can try in your welcome emails, your automations, and so on.

If you said you’d email once a week, don’t do it twice unless you have very important news that cannot wait. Most email marketers email their subscribers once to twice a week. Find out what your subscribers prefer and stick to it. If you’re just starting out, you can ask new members about their preferences. This is a simple tactic that can make things a lot easier for you.

Prevent Spam Email

8. Offer A Text-Only Version

When it comes to using images and HTML on emails, there is a bit of a controversy. Some email experts say that you shouldn’t add pictures to your emails, others say that it’s not exactly an issue…

The solution: offer a HTML version, with all the images, and provide a text-only version. When opening the email, if it’s not possible to show the HTML, users can just click on the text-only link in the email, or that same option in the recipient’s email client, if they use one (email clients include software like Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Outlook, and so on). 📋

Another thing you must remember to provide is “View In Browser”, especially if your email has very heavy files in the content. Rather than annoy recipients with missing images and weird URLs, you are giving them the option to check your email properly on their browser.

Sending emails that are difficult to read properly is a sure fire way to get your emails  in the spam folder.

9. Keep A Good Image-To-Text Ratio

If you really need to add images, make sure that they do not disrupt the written content at all. Ideally, images should be avoided, but if you have to, remember to have several lines of text for each image. Resize the images to a smaller size and, if possible, convert the files to .png.  🖼️

Finally, make sure your HTML places image and text correctly, in a cohesive way. Doing so will make your message easier for users to understand and give them a reason to stay on your list.

10. Check Your Engagement Metrics

Keeping an eye on your engagement metrics is essential for you to measure your mailing list’s health. Here are the top metrics you should always check.

  • Open rate – It measures how many of your recipients actually opened your email divided by the number of sent emails.
  • Click-through rate – Measures how many readers actually click on the links in your email vs the ones that just open it.
  • Share/forward rate – How many readers forwarded your email vs the ones that actually read the email.
  • Unsubscribe rate – The number of unsubscribe requests versus the number of emails sent.

These metrics give you the big picture of how your campaign is doing. Focus on improving these and your chances of getting your emails in the inbox will improve as well. 🙊

Take particular care on how your recipients engage with your content as well. We recommend using an email address that users can reply to – avoid “do-not-reply” addresses.


11. Send Targeted & Relevant Content

This one should be obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in the details that we forget what our main goal is. Of course, you want to sell. But you need to respect your readers.

Don’t force sales. Just put your offers out there, show why readers should buy from you. Talk about benefits, not features.

Features don’t tell a story. Benefits do. That’s what your recipients want to read about. Then, once you have some case studies ready, you have great material that is highly persuasive and gets the selling done for you. 📅

Also, use targeting for your own benefit. Understand the different segments in your audience and what makes them tick. Create sequences using these segments to improve your engagement, your sales, and keep your emails out of the spam folder.

Wrapping Up

These are just a few tips that can help prevent your emails from going to the spam folder. We recommend paying attention to these factors from the beginning – that is, when you first start collecting emails from your website.

What do you think? Was there anything else you think we should have added? Let us know in the comment section below or find us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Platformly can help grow your mailing list by providing you with opt-in forms that you can design from the ground up, or templates you can adapt to your website’s look and feel. Try it today!

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About Author

Deeply passionate about writing, copy, and social media. Digital Marketing Assistant at Platformly.


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