Solutions guide to why your Emails are going to Spam

by Harshal Bathija
Published: Last Updated on

Riddle us this – It is named for a canned meat product, first introduced in 1937. 

Give it two minutes. Hint: the answer is in the title of this blog. 

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Answer – The word spam became popular in 1970 due to the BBC comedy sketch Monty Python, in which the name of a meat product was mentioned 108 times. Later sending an irritating, meaningless block of text was called spamming.

via GIPHY

Where are our Nigerian Princes at? 

Nearly 85% of all emails are spam. That translates into an average daily volume of 122.33 billion messages globally. 

By the end of this post, you’ll not only know why your emails go to spam, but you’ll also know exactly how to get back to your subscribers’ inbox. 

Is It Okay if Your Emails are Going to Spam instead of the Inbox? 

Globally, email has an inbox placement rate of about 83%. That’s alright, right? Yes, yes it is alright. 

But is alright what we’re striving for? Is a little less than what you could do what we’re striving for? Here’s where you take OnePlus’ tagline seriously.

Never settle for making any less than you could in profits. Pay close attention, find out why your emails go to spam and work on bringing them back to the inbox of your addressees. 

Know that it’s getting tougher to stay in the inbox as email service providers are putting multiple spam filters in place. We’ve segregated the various reasons your emails are ending up in the spam folder. You’ll find the solution to each problem in the same section. 

‘’Whoops! My emails are going to spam.’’

If this is something you’ve noticed or encountered previously, here’s why it happens – 

Lack of an email list 

Think from the perspective of the consumer. 

You’ve landed on the website and up comes the notification, asking you to sign up for the newsletter and any other updates from the business. The keyword here is ‘’asking’’. There’s permission involved in this process. Would you be okay if you were told to sign up for the emails from the business? 

It’s important to build your email list with the opt-in over time. The alternative is buying a mailing list which is: 

  1. Shady 
  2. Punishable with an impending fine 

There are businesses who buy the mailing lists and their emails can very easily be picked up by the spam filters. Moreover, the customer will completely disregard these emails. So if anything, you are only increasing your chances of ending up in the spam folder. 

Oh and did we mention the fine? 

Lack of Segmentation

It’s great to continually grow the subscribers of your email lists. 

It’s not so great when the subscribers aren’t your target audience. 

You have to be paying attention to who is on your email list. 

Do they at all care about your product/service? 

Has there been any engagement from their end? 

A good way to make sure your email is reaching the right subscriber is to segment your list. For example, segment the subscribers by their customer journey. You can also use demographic data to segment them. The idea is to send the correct email to the respective subscriber so as to stay in their inbox. 

OpenMoves segmented their email list into two – people who had and had not clocked on a campaign. They sent an email to the people who had clicked on the campaign only. This resulted in deliverability improving from 90% to 95% instantly. Et voila! 

Fishy IP Addresses

Think about this for a minute – has your IP address ever been used for spam? 

It might not have even been you. Whoever has used your IP address could’ve used it to spam someone. And you’ll be left bearing with the consequences. 

Businesses offering email marketing services send all the emails for various clients through the same IP address. This opens you up to bearing the brunt of all/any of the other emails sent through the same IP address. 

Fortunately, there are some email marketing services that practice vigilance and ensure that their IP addresses are clean and no such emails have been sent from it. Some such email service providers that come to mind are Drip and Constant Contact. Go ahead and use their services knowing the IP address won’t be the reason for your emails going into the spam folder. 

The Law Stands 

Yep, there are laws governing email marketing. Infact, there’s a whole Act. 

  • CAN-SPAM Act in the US, 
  • CASL laws in Canada, 
  • Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003 in the UK. 

These acts are in place to ensure the spammers are kept at bay. If you’re running a legitimate show, you have nothing to worry about. If not, it’s time to set things straight because you are looking at serious implications and a significant fine. 

Your intention isn’t to spam. Even so, it’s better to be acquainted with the laws governing your country because sometimes the violations can be unintentional. 

We’re not just going to leave you with the problem. Here are some DONTs for you to keep in check: 

  • Bait headliners 
  • Purchase of email list 
  • No option to unsubscribe/opt out 
  • Lack of your address 

HTML Best Practices

64% of people prefer HTML emails over plain text emails. 

Take this blog for instance. Would you be as inclined to read it without the visual aids and the formatting of headings, paragraphs, etc? About that,

We panicked alright; it happens. Moving on! 

A type of HTML that allows you to format the otherwise plain text. That’s the goal of using an HTML email. The tables, the color formatting, the font and size, all of it happens because of the use of an HTML email. 

Some best practices to keep in mind – 

  • Clear CTAs 
  • Proper use of images 
  • Optimal use of white space 
  • Look out for particular acceptable email fonts 
  • Single column layout usage 
  • It’s best to keep your hands off Flash, JavaScript, and Complex CSS/HTML

Why should you employ these best practices? 

  • Conversions – Your conversion rate goes up simply because it’s easier for the consumer to engage with your email. The clear CTAs, clickable links, etc provide a seamless experience. 
  • Engagement – As opposed to plain text emails, there are multiple elements that stand out in an HTML email. This allows the customer to process the information and engage easily. 
  • Design – The various formatting options allow you to play around and create a visual treat of an email. You can make it synonymous with your branding and highlight CTAs for clear next steps. 
  • Tracking – Coming to the analytics, you want to know the performance of your HTML emails. Use an email campaign analytics tool to help with assessment of engagement and performance of HTML emails. 

Spam Trigger Words

Otherwise known as, ‘’asking for it’’.

Yes, spam filters get triggered too. There are a few words used in a specific context that are marked as red flags by email providers. They analysed emails over the years and came up with a bunch of words/phrases – 188 of them! – and deemed them to be spam folder worthy. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that if the word’s in your email, it’s automatically going to spam. These filters have advanced features now and they look out for context that goes with the words. If your email is well crafted and enjoys a low bounce rate, this is one less thing you have to worry about. 

We’re listing out a couple pointers to avoid using trigger words: 

  • Unrealistic 
  • Shady 
  • Needy
  • Manipulative 
  • Cheap 

Basically, everything you would consider a red flag in your partner. 

Some spam trigger words for you to get an idea – 

  • Earn Cash 
  • Cheap 
  • Best Price
  • Click Here
  • Miracle
  • Congratulations 
  • Unlimited
  • Act Now 

Lack of Email Authentication

Didn’t know this was a thing? Same, until recently. 

Shop talk, the receiving mail server checks for SPF records, the DKIM key for your email and the sending domain in order to authenticate an email. 

Here’s the part you’ll understand – the receiving email server needs to ensure the email is actually sent by whom it says it’s sent by. In order to do that, there are some checks performed. 

Your domain name is one of the first things that’s verified. Once this is verified, it’s important to note that domains have named admins who can handle them officially. 

An SPF record is essentially a tool that allows you to verify whether an email is sent from an IP address authorized by said admins of the domain mentioned. 

DKIM is a one of a kind signature for your email. It allows for easy authentication and deliverability of emails. Two birds with one stone. 

So unless you want your emails to end up in the spam folder, be sure to set your emails up for any authentication checks. 

Error 404 – Clean Email List Not Found 

Ever considered the possibility that some of your subscribers are genuinely not interested in your product/service? And that might be the reason your email engagement and open rate is getting affected? That can also be why your email is picked up by a spam filter? 

A routine check of your emailing list is essential to know who actually engages with your emails. The remaining people can be removed from the mailing list. This process is called Email Scrubbing and it’s about time you adopted this practice. 

Email Scrubbing leaves you with active subscribers. This automatically increases your engagement and open rate, thereby reducing your chances of ending up in the spam folder. Simple enough? 

Segment your email lists based on your email marketing statistics. Now look up the following – 

  • Less open rate 
  • More unsubscribes 
  • Less CTR 
  • More spam complaints 

Choose the list and remove the inactive subscribers. This helps them and your email marketing efforts. 

Low Engagement Rate

Email Engagement Rate can mean any interaction your subscribers have with your emails. 

  • Email Open Rate
  • Email Read Time 
  • Email Responses
  • Email Forwards
  • Email Marked as SPAM 
  • Email CTA/Link Clicks 
  • Email Complaints 

All of the above are factors that decide your email engagement rate. The worst case scenario? A subscriber opens your email and immediately deletes it. This drastically affects your overall engagement rate. And if done by a lot of subscribers often, it alerts spam filters too. 

Cold Emails and Emails with low engagement rates are often used interchangeably. However, most cold emails are emails with low engagement rates but it isn’t the same vice versa. 

Now, what can be done to improve your email engagement rate? 

  1. Signature – Make sure to sign the email legitimately. Your name, designation, company name and a link to your website or any particular landing page you want your customer to view. 
  1. Value – This comes under the content aspect of an email. And like every other piece of content, understand the requirement of your addressee and craft the message accordingly. They want solutions to their problems, not unnecessary information about you and your business. 
  1. Targeting – Cold emails to the right people can prove useful. It’s all about your targeting efforts. Segment the demographic that you believe will be interested in engaging with your email and shoot them a cold email. You have email marketing statistics to review later and you can always cut down on any addressees who don’t show interest. 
  1. Number of emails – The number and frequency of emails matter. Too many emails is spamming the addressee even if it ends up in their inbox. Ironic and irritating, isn’t it? Be sure to plan ahead and fit all that you want to say into a limited number of emails. 
  1. ‘’From’’ – A good practice to ensure the spam filters don’t divert their attention to your emails is to edit the From line from time to time. Make it so that it proves advantageous to you. 
  1. Subject Line – The elevator pitch of your email. This is make or break for your engagement rate. Be sure to craft a compelling and irresistible subject line for all your emails. 
  1. Templates – Every business has a standard email template. We encourage you to keep a bunch of them and update them from time to time. You’re giving the audience something different and fresh to look forward to and humanizing the experience, keeping the spam filters at bay. 
  1. Opt Out – If the addressee wishes to opt out, they should be able to find the option to do so easily. You have to find the balance between not highlighting it to the point where it attracts immediate attention but also keeping the link accessible. 

Subject Lines 

As mentioned earlier, this is the elevator pitch of your email. You need to reel in your addressee’s attention with the subject line. That is a lot of pressure on a few words, isn’t it? We understand the difficulty of the situation. 

But it’s necessary to try and perfect this with a lot of practice and not resort to shady methods. Using misleading subject lines is a sure shot way of reducing your email engagement rate. Once the addressee notices that your subject lines are misleading, they will do one of the following things – 

  1. Unsubscribe 
  2. Complaint 
  3. Move to Spam 

All of which harms your email engagement rate. What can you do to avoid this and practice ethical methods of improving your subject line? How to stop emails from going to spam because of a misleading subject line? 

The alternative puts you at risk of not only tainting your brand’s reputation but also violating laws governing what constitutes spam and the respective repercussions. 

Email Frequency

Email Engagement Rate is directly proportional to the frequency of your emails. It’s a trial and error game of understanding what works best for your audience. Take that additional time to find out the balance between too much and too less; the sweet spot that ensures optimal engagement rate. 

Ideally, once in two weeks seems to work, based on generic testing. But it’s best to test it out for your audience and find out. 

As for your subscriber’s preferred frequency, 

  • Understand the subscriber 
  • Pay close attention to the customer’s journey
  • Set up a preference center 
  • Perform surveys

Suboptimal Usage of Email Marketing Metrics

You can send out the best emails and it won’t matter unless you can measure the performance. That’s where email marketing metrics come in handy. The whole point of digital marketing is that you can track and measure the completion of goals and ROI. It’s a waste if it’s not put to use. 

  1. Goal Setting – Figure out what you wish to achieve from an email marketing campaign. More subscribers, more clicks, more leads, more conversions, take your pick (it can be a combination of these as well) and build your email marketing campaign around this goal. 
  1. Accurate Tools – Based on your goals, research and identify the email marketing tools that will help you track the required metrics. 
  1. Track and Measure – This is the end game. After you’ve sent your email, use the tools identified to track the performance of the campaign. Gather the data and ascertain if it results in the completion of your goals. 
  1. Improve – Based on results of the email marketing campaign, find gaps in performance, scope for improvement and chart out a plan to make the next campaign better! 
  1. And Repeat. 

We’re listing a few metrics you can look out for based on your goals: 

  • Conversion Rate
  • Bounce Rate
  • Open Rate
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) 
  • Sharing Rate
  • Overall ROI 

Want to Create Better Emails? 

If your answer is any of the below, you’re in for some exciting information! 

  • Yes 
  • Hell Yes 
  • Teach Me Right Now
  • What Are We Waiting For
  • Let’s Go 

You get the drift. 

Grammarly

A Grammar Nazi’s best friend for life. This tool allows you to spell check and practically acts as a writing assistant. Additionally, Grammarly also points out sentence structure and offers better alternatives as well. It’s the total package! 

Test Subject

This tool allows you to test the subject line of your email. Tell us the words ‘’elevator pitch’’ sprung to your mind almost immediately. The subject line should be relevant to the email and it should address the subscriber personally. 

There’s the problem of the subject line appearing differently on different devices. TestSubject helps you with previewing how the subject line will appear on each type of device and allows you to adjust it accordingly. 

Litmus Email Testing

Your assessment of placement and formatting of emails is limited to the email provider you use. Well, there are a lot of different email providers and you don’t know which one the addressee is using. 

The formatting might not look the same on each of them. The Litmus Email Testing tool allows you to check how the email will look in each of the popular email service providers. This way, you can be in control of how it’ll look across different providers. 

Chamaileon 

Think Canva for emails. Sounds good? 

Chamaileon lets you choose from over 100 different design templates and has some design blocks if you want to play around with the template too. And similar to Canva, Chamaileon is a collaborative tool that allows you to edit and view with your team on the platform. 

Email Scheduling and Analytics Tool

Whoever named this tool believes in getting straight to the point. 

Email Service Providers looked at the growing requirement for measuring analytics and came up with a built in tool. This tool lets you schedule emails and track basic metrics like open rate and CTR. 

Sendy, MailChimp and Eloqua are some of the service providers that have this tool. 

Zapier

Thanks to the revolution that is Automation, a lot of routine tasks can be taken up by bots in your system. 

Zapier lets you set up automatic welcome emails for every new subscriber. And other similar automated emails can be set up as well. 

It connects a bunch of your apps and integrates the information in the appropriate manner. For example, it can pick up contacts once they are added via Google and place them in a Google Spreadsheet. 

Mail-Tester

Remember SPF records and DKIM key and other such terms that bounced off of our heads? MailTester lets you check your emails for authenticity of the above and points out possible spam filter red flags. 

Send Forensics

Everything to do with email deliverability statistics, you can do here. Examining sender score, email content, loss to spam filters, and other criteria can all be checked with this tool. 

SendForensics also provides real time scoring for live campaigns along with allowing you to set deliverability alerts for your campaigns. 

Clearout.io

With this tool, you realise just how powerful maintaining a database is. This tool has a massive database of invalid addresses and they cross verify for you to help with clearing them out. 

Clearout verifies your email list and checks for duplicates, domain names and as mentioned earlier, clears out invalid addresses. 

HTML Email Check

As the name suggests, this tool helps you authenticate the sender’s markup along with any images/links attached. 

Inspiration

We’ve curated a few brands along with their winning email marketing campaigns for you to derive inspiration from. 

Busy

Time is of the essence now more than ever. This software solution allows you to keep track of your time and prioritize with the help of planning ahead. 

View this email sent out by Busy to its mailing list. 

Why it’s one of our favorites – 

  • Great brand identification and consistent email design
  • Easy readability with regard to the design and content 
  • Easily located unsubscribe button 
  • Relevant and meaningful CTA 

Headspace

The brainchild of Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson, Headspace is a guided meditation app with a lot of different methods and audio visual aids that help you take a step into the world of Meditation. 

View this email sent out by Headspace to its mailing list. 

Why it’s one of our favorites – 

  • Pleasing to the eye 
  • To the point and consistently so 
  • Perfect CTA placement 
  • Option to unsubscribe 
  • Relevant content 
  • Onbrand 
  • Social share buttons 
  • Presence of physical address in the email 

Zendesk

A CRM solutions software that is entirely focused on improving your brand’s customer experience. 

View this email sent out by Headspace to its mailing list. 

Why it’s one of our favorites – 

  • Captivating hook line 
  • User friendly design 
  • Unsubscribe option 
  • Physical address in the mail 
  • Relevant CTA 
  • Link to their privacy policy page 
  • Consistent and onbrand design 

Rounding up the pulse of this blog, we’ve discussed the importance of following certain best practices in order to avoid landing in the spam folder. We hope you check out the email inspirations we’ve put together for you, go back to the drawing board on your current email marketing strategy and improve your game! 

Until next time, take care and stay safe. 

Harshal Bathija 

Content Writer

Profitcast 

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