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Why are my emails ending up in spam?

Email marketing is still a valuable and worthwhile tool, whether you are looking to engage with consumers or other businessesThe global number of email users is set to grow to 4.4. billion users by 2023. In addition to that, 65% of B2C and B2B marketers agree email is still one of – if not THE most – important item in their marketing toolbox. However, if you’re investing time and resources into creating your email marketing campaign, you want to make sure it’s reaching your intended readers and not ending up in their spam or junk folder.

Spam emails often share one or more of these common characteristics:

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Unsolicited

They are unsolicited, meaning they are received out of the blue, without the recipient opting in.
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Poorly Written

They are poorly written, with bad grammar or spelling mistakes.
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Spammy Subject Line

They have a spammy subject line, containing phrases like “free offer” or “urgent reply needed”.
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Dubious Call To Action

They ask the recipient to click on a suspicious link or share personal information.
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Too Many Links

The message contains multiple links to different web pages.
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Excessive Formatting

The sender has used excessive formatting, with lots of colours or different fonts.
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Invisible Headers

They have invisible headers which is where technical information about the email is held.

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Sent in Bulk

They are sent in bulk to numerous recipients.
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Anonymous Sender

The sender is anonymous.
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Suspicious Attachments

The email includes suspicious attachments that appear to be encrypted or contain links to web pages.

There are 2 ways in which your emails could be classed as spam:

They are manually reported as spam by your recipients.
They set off spam-filter algorithms automatically.

Let’s look at ways to solve both of those, to help make sure your emails reach their intended recipients and add value to your marketing efforts.

How to avoid having your emails reported as spam

There are a number of things that you can do to help prevent your marketing emails from being reported as spam and to bring value to your readers.

1. Ask for your readers’ permission

The first step is to gain your readers’ permission to contact them. This could be done using an email opt-in form on your website, your social media profiles or even a check-out page on your web store, to give a few examples. When asking your readers to sign up to marketing emails, it’s good practice to let them know what type of content you plan to send them, e.g. hints & tips, special offers or information on other products you might offer.

2. Learn how often people want to receive emails from you

Another helpful piece of information to give your readers at the time of signing up, is to let them know how often you are likely to email them, e.g. weekly, monthly etc. Mailing too often could cause annoyance, leading to low open rates and possibly even causing readers to unsubscribe, so it’s helpful to set your readers’ expectations.

3. Avoid misleading subject lines

The subject lines of your emails should always be relevant to the content of your message not misleading in any way. Writing a catchy subject line takes practice, though, so sometimes it’s worth testing 2 different subject lines to see which one performs the best and has a greater open rate, i.e. the message was opened and read by the most people. This is sometimes called A/B testing.

4. Use a clear and trustworthy sender name

Your sender name should be clear and easily recognisable to your readers. A good way to achieve this is to include your first name and the name of your company, e.g. Dave from CompanyName Ltd.

It’s also best not to change your sender name too frequently, if at all, so as to maintain continuity with your readers. You should also make sure the email address you are sending from is something professional and relevant, e.g. [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc.

5. Avoid Excessive Use Of Formatting

Overdoing the formatting of your emails can be off-putting to your readers. Things like using multiple different colours, different fonts and too much capitalised text are best avoided.

A clear, reading experience is best, allowing your subscribers to focus on the content of your email.

6. Make it Clear you’re sending a Marketing email

A requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act is that promotional emails or advertisements are identified as such. One way to do this is to include a line at the bottom of your email saying something like: “This is promotional email sent by Company Name”.

7. check your grammar and spelling

Good spelling and grammar are important ways to demonstrate your professionalism and competence to your readers. After all, your readers may be potential new customers, or even existing customers you are hoping to do repeat business with. Why should they trust you with their custom if you couldn’t take the time to check your spelling?

Email platforms often include built-in spelling and grammar checkers. However, another option is to type your email out using a word processing app, such as Word or Google Docs, run a spell-checker in that, then copy and paste your text into your email service. Alternatively, you can sign up for a specialist service like Grammarly.

8. Make Your Call To Action Clear

 The action you are asking your readers to take upon receipt of your mail should be simple and clear. It’s best to stick to a single Call to Action, as any more can be confusing and dilute the message of your email.

Your Call to Action should be clearly described, so that it’s obvious to your reader what will happen next, i.e. what web page the link will take them to, or whether they will be asked for further information.  

9. Include an unsubscribe Link

Including an unsubscribe link is best practice in email marketing, as well as being a requirement for many email service providers. It ensures you are meeting all your legal obligations, depending on the location of your readers, also gives your readers assurance they can opt-out at any point.

10. Avoid generic corporate email addresses

Emails sent to generic company addresses, such as [email protected] or [email protected] tend to have a low open rate, as these tend to be shared mailboxes, monitored by several staff members, so marketing emails tend not to reach the person whom they are most relevant to.

It’s a good idea to cleanse your email lists before launching a campaign, to strip out any such generic addresses.

Now let’s look at how to avoid email filter algorithms flagging your email as spam.

How to avoid spam filters

Emails that don’t meet certain standards will more than likely trigger spam filters, so will end up in your readers’ Spam or Junk folders.

To help avoid that scenario, there are a number of steps you can take.

1. Use a dedicated IP address

The reputation of the IP address you are sending your emails from plays a big part in determining whether they will reach your subscribers’ Inboxes. A good reputation and a higher score means they will most likely land in front of your readers. A low score means they could well end up in the Spam or Junk folder.

Most email marketing providers, like HubSpot or MailChimp, use a collection of shared IP addresses, which they monitor for health and reputation, to make sure customers using their services have a good rate of deliverability.

If you’re using your own mail server, a good option is to use a dedicated IP address. This is a unique IP address that only you have access to, issued by your hosting provider. 

2. Check your IP Reputation

If you need to check the reputation of your IP address there are a number of tools you can use such as ReputationAuthorityTalos Intelligence or Sender Score.

3. Verify your email lists

If your email list contains a large number of email addresses that aren’t valid, you will receive a high number of bounce-backs, which will lower your IP reputation. Email addresses could be invalid for a number of reasons: maybe the person has left the business or maybe the address you have on file contains a typo. No matter the reason, it is a good idea to verify and test emails. Luckily, this is a feature many email service providers offer on their platforms.

4. Follow your email campaign open and spam complaint rates

Email campaigns with a low open rate and a high spam complaint rate are highly to be blocked by email providers and relegated to Spam folders. If your campaign is performing poorly, then you should review your email content, make any necessary edits to increase your open rate and then review to see if there has been a positive impact.

5. Check Your bounce rate

Your bounce rate is the ratio of the emails that didn’t reach your intended recipients versus the total number of emails you sent. Although there is a difference between hard and soft bounces as a general rule the higher your bounce rate the worse effect it will have on your sender reputation. As a guide, try to keep your bounce rate below 2%.

6. Warm-up new email accounts before sending large campaigns

 If you’re planning on running large email marketing campaigns with a high volume of emails, it is sensible to start small. Warm up your email accounts by starting with a small number of emails each day, that are likely to be opened. Then gradually scale up as your reputation builds.

7. Create a separate email account for outbound marketing

8. Set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records

9. Avoid spam trigger words

10. Be careful with HTML

11. Stick to the optimal text-to-picture ratio

12. Personalised emails

13. Attachments

14. Comply with local laws and regulations

CAN-SPAM act

GDPR

15. Track links the right way

Email marketing remains a valuable tool for any marketer, whether running a B2B or B2C campaign. Ensuring your emails reach your target readers and bring value to them is key to meeting your marketing goals. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to help improve the deliverability of your emails.

Are there any other steps that you take in your email marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!