Putting time and effort into creating the ultimate email message, only to find that it landed in your recipient’s spam folder and never got read is a massive frustration for any email marketer.
Spam filters are there to help us. They’re designed to prevent all the unsolicited emails we never signed up for from distracting us from the messages we want to read.
However, far too often, legitimate emails and newsletters are ending up in junk folders, just because the senders weren’t aware of the different kinds of filters and how they work.
In this article, we’re going to let you know what to look out for and how to keep emails from going to spam.
Why emails go to spam instead of inbox?
You didn’t get permission
Without permission, you’re breaking data protection laws in every country around the globe. To obtain permission, your subscribers must opt-in by choice.
You can’t add addresses from business cards or your contacts list, but you can reach out to those addresses via lead emails. Just be sure you stay within the regulations.
Your IP address was flagged
Depending on how you deliver your campaigns can result in being flagged for something you didn’t do. Some services use the same IP addresses for batches of users or an IP address previously flagged for illicit behaviours.
You’ve been blacklisted
There are several reasons you can end up on an email blacklist—and not all of them will be your fault. You can check your domain and IP against the major blacklists using an email-checking tool.
You have low engagement rates
Major email providers have regularly indicated that they rate emails by how many are opened against those deleted without interaction. Low open or read rates can be responsible for lowering your sender score and raising your chances of heading to the spam folder.
Your messages are flagged as spam complaints
When anyone marks your message as spam or drags it into their junk folder, the mail provider designates this a complaint. The complaint addresses are revealed on providers’ systems so that you can remove them from your lists.
Your recipients have empty (or near empty) mailboxes
Some filters consider the ratio of active to inactive email accounts on your list. Accounts with very little activity trigger the filters and bump up your chances of being labelled as junk.
Your content looks like spam
If your content looks like spam, the filters will mark it as spam. Unprofessional emails with bad spelling and grammar, large image sizes, unnecessary attachments, promotional phrases, or dodgy looking sender addresses and headlines will all trigger the filters.
Your ‘from’ field information is misleading
Our best-practice suggestion is to include a name and your company brand in your ‘from’ field. That way, recipients will believe they’re dealing with a real person, and the content specifically intended for them.
By recognizing your brand from the outset, it should stop them from hitting the spam button too early.
You didn’t include an unsubscribe link
If you’re sending bulk emails, you must include an unsubscribe link. Don’t try and hide your unsubscribe link, thinking you’ll lose subscribers. Your unsubscribe link will work for you in more ways than against.
An uninterested recipient that no longer engages with your messages will harm your metrics.
Ideally, you only want engaged readers, so if they unsubscribe, they’re doing you a favour. Your email list should consist of quality over quantity, every time.
Your message isn’t optimized for email
Poorly prepared emails will detract from engagement and deliverability. Keep images less than 800-pixels wide, be sure to include a healthy ratio of text to images, and make sure your code is clean and optimized for email and mobile use.
Messy code, poor grammar, image-heavy messages, and complicated scripts will all flag up as possible spam.
You bought your email list
A bought-in email list is the ultimate bad practice in growing your audience. Just don’t. The addresses you buy stand a good chance of providing hard bounces, complaints, and zero engagement. Nobody needs that.
How to prevent emails from going to spam?
We’ve answered the question, “Why do my emails go to spam?” and now we’re going to outline the different ways of how to stop emails going to junk folders, instead of inboxes.
Ask subscribers to add you to their address book or safe senders list
A really simple way to make sure you end up in customers’ inboxes is to get them to add you to their contacts’ whitelist—however that may appear. A trusted address will always land where it needs to.
Suppose you can suggest basic actions or instructions to your recipients to add your address to their trusted contacts. In that case, you’ll resolve the issue without having to worry about many of the other implications.
Build a consistent sender identity and score
Your sender score will grow as you gain a stronger reputation with the service providers. You can check your sender score or reputation with several handy tools designed for email marketers.
If you stick to email best practices, your reputation will become stronger, and landing in spam or junk folders will become a thing of the past.
Stick to a regular delivery schedule
Erratic email schedules are frowned upon by the spam-bots. A professional marketer will send campaigns at times they know they receive the best engagement metrics. They’ll also have considered, and steadily growing campaign schedules.
Sending out campaigns at irregular intervals, to masses of addresses, will work against you, and get you marked as spam.
Clean your email lists to operate at premium hygiene
Email list hygiene is one of the most critical factors for reliable email deliverability and engagement.
By identifying addresses that no longer exist, or will bounce for any other reason, and also those who aren’t engaging in your content, you can strip out the low engagement accounts and improve your metrics.
Create strong content, with clean code
Spam filters will check for suspect links (URL shorteners can trigger them too), complex coding (stick to clean HTML) and poorly constructed content.
Other elements to avoid are spammy soundbites and typical promotional phrases, excessive use of exclamation marks, poor text to image ratios, and images at the wrong resolution.
Don’t link to dubious URLs
The links from your email will also go through your spam checkers. Those that score badly will impact your message, so make sure you double-check the reputation of anyone you link to in your content.
Use trusted resources and software systems
We’re not pointing any fingers here, but some of the cheaper services will cut corners to keep costs down. That could mean their servers aren’t quite set up as they should be, or less favourable senders utilize the IP addresses.
Using trusted providers and keeping your addresses authenticated keeps you and your emails safe.
Use a company domain and email address to build reputation
Your email reputation will build over time, so use your company domain.
Free domains won’t cause problems for smaller lists and campaigns, but as you grow, they will. Start as you mean to go on, and use a domain that builds a higher score as well as customer confidence.
Authenticate your emails with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
Authentication is a complicated subject, but needless to say, it’s one that larger senders should be taking advantage of. Check with your provider that the main methods are covered, and you’re not getting marked down for something you’ve missed
Email testing with spam checkers
There are plenty of spam checkers email marketers can use. They’ll scan your message against typical spam filters, verify your IP address and domain for authentication and against blacklists, as well as delivering your spam score and the likelihood of delivery.
The beauty of using a spam checker is the ability to resolve all issues before delivery. That way, you can be sure you’ve left no stone unturned and given yourself the best possible chances of avoiding the junk folders.
Bouncer’s email verification
With bounced email addresses playing a huge part in deliverability, verifying your email lists is a must in the battle of how to stop the mail going to junk.
Our validation system checks for invalid and expired addresses and problem emails such as disposable or accept all addresses.
It also features a range of other features that help keep your lists clean, with the best possible chances of landing your messages in your recipients’ inboxes.
Now you know…
We don’t want to hear any more reports of “My emails are going to spam” now that we’ve published such a comprehensive guide covering the problem areas.
If you follow our best practices, your sender score and reputation will grow, your email lists will be cleaner, delivering your best metrics to date, and the providers’ spam filters won’t have a leg to stand on.
Izabela is a leading contributor to the Bouncer’s blog. She is inspired to help companies all around the world to get emails into their recipients’ inboxes
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