10 ways to avoid landing in the spam folder

After you carefully craft and execute an email marketing campaign, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
For most marketers, the answer is “My messages lands in the spam folder.”
If your emails are marked as “spam” versus hitting the inbox, your subscribers will never see them or engage with them. That’s time, money, brainpower, and resources down the drain.
So, how do you make sure your email marketing messages get seen? How do you keep them out of spam purgatory?
There are lots of strategies you can use to make sure it doesn’t happen. Learn what they are, and your emails will have a much better chance of winning clicks and converting subscribers.

9 email marketing techniques to keep your messages out of the spam folder

Use these techniques, strategies, and tips to stay on the right side of the spam folder.

1. Only send emails to people who opted-in.

One of the first major must-dos to keep your emails from being marked as spam: only send to your subscribers, the people who opted-in.
Shady list-building tactics, such as buying email addresses or sending unsolicited emails, are undesirable. And, since they’re against the law, you could incur some hefty fines for engaging in them.
Unless someone confirmed they want to receive your marketing emails (according to the CAN-SPAM Act, this is called “express permission”), do not send to them under any circumstances.

2. Avoid subject lines with spam trigger words.

Did you know that email filters look for specific trigger words in your subject lines to help determine whether your messages are spam?
Yes, there is a lexicon of spammy-sounding language. It turns out that spammers often use the same types of wording to trick buyers.
According to Small Business Trends and HubSpot, these are some of the top words and phrases to avoid in your emails:
  • Clearance
  • Buy direct
  • As seen on
  • Additional income
  • Be your own boss
  • Earn $
  • Extra income
  • While you sleep
  • Money making
  • Potential earnings
  • Cash bonus
  • Fast cash
  • Increase sales
  • Save up to
  • Serious cash
  • Why pay more?
  • Once in a lifetime
  • Web traffic
  • Free consultation
  • No strings attached
  • What are you waiting for?
  • Call now
  • Sign up free today
  • Online biz opportunity

3. Keep an eye on your sender reputation and spam score.

Email providers do a lot to determine whether your email will show up in recipients’ inboxes, including looking at your sender reputation.
Also called your IP reputation, sender score, or IP score, this refers to your sender IP address. Different factors like the quality of the email content you send, the engagement you get, and the quality of your email contacts all influence your score and determine your reputation.
A low sender reputation score can mean an email provider will filter your messages into the spam folder. Keep an eye on your score to make sure this won’t influence your marketing reach.
Generally, sender scores are generated by third parties such as Sender Score by ReturnPath and Talos Intelligence by Cisco.

4. Don’t send too many emails...

While you’re at it, don’t forget to avoid spam-like behavior at all costs.
A big no-no is sending too many marketing emails to your subscribers. For example, if you send out multiple emails per day, that can easily get you flagged as spam.

5. But do send emails consistently.

On the flip side, if you send marketing emails inconsistently or randomly, you’ll be more likely to get sent straight to spam.
Instead, stick to a consistent schedule for sending out your messages. Once or twice a week on the same day is a good best practice to try.

6. Make sure the content you send is targeted and relevant.

A major way you can avoid the spam folder is by focusing on email content that’s relevant to your readers. After all, the more they enjoy receiving your emails, the less likely they are to flag them as spam.
Here are a few tips to stay relevant:
  • Know your subscribers. Understand their preferences.
  • Use segmentation to divide your audience into smaller groups and target each individually. This helps ensure the emails you send are super-relevant.
  • Always aim to add value to your readers’ lives with each email you send. If there’s no value in it for them, don’t send it.
For example, look at this targeted email from Barnes & Noble. It’s addressed “Dear Reader,” and is obviously meant for adult bookworms and fans of modern fiction.

7. Ensure your sender information isn’t misleading.

According to the CAN-SPAM Act, the emails you send must not have “false or misleading header information.” That includes the sender information in the “from” and “reply-to” fields as well as the routing information.
For instance, you can’t send email that looks like it came from a different sender. You also shouldn’t send marketing emails from an address that looks suspicious or unrecognizable. 
In other words, if it looks like a human didn’t send it, or it looks like a scam, it will probably be marked as spam.
Instead, attempt to personalize the email address from which you send marketing messages. Make it look like a human or a group of humans are behind it (because it’s true!).
Here’s an example from Best Friends Pet Hotel:

8. Include your physical address in all email marketing messages.

Another stipulation of the CAN-SPAM Act is that you must include your address in all of your email marketing messages. In general, this just shows that you’re a real business with a physical location.
Most companies add their address to their email footer, like this:

9. Check your email deliverability record.

More often than not, your ESP (email service provider) will have different metrics available that you can monitor to track where your messages end up and how subscribers engage with them (or not).
The most common include:
  • Open Rate – The percentage of subscribers who opened your emails.
  • Delivery Rate – The percentage of emails successfully delivered to subscriber inboxes (can include landing in spam!).
  • Click Rate – The percentage of clicks within an opened email.
  • Unsubscribe or Opt-Out Rate – The percentage of email recipients who unsubscribe or opt-out of your email marketing.
It’s a good idea to keep track of these metrics and monitor how your emails are doing with subscribers. The effectiveness of your emails can and will affect whether or not you’ll end up in the spam folder.
If you notice undesirable metrics, like a low delivery rate, a low open rate, or a high unsubscribe rate, this guide to improving your email results can help you decide your next steps.

10. Use a two-step, double opt-in process to confirm email subscribers.

Lots of people often sign up for email newsletters and then promptly forget about it. Then, when said emails start showing up in their inbox, they mark them as spam because they don’t remember that first point of contact when they initially consented.
To help weed out these types of one-and-done subscribers, use a two-step, double opt-in process on your sign-up forms.
This just means that once a user enters their email address and hits “sign me up,” they won’t be automatically added to the list. Instead, they will receive a confirmation email in their inbox where they must click a link to confirm they want to receive your emails.
This confirmation email from Zulily is a good example of the double opt-in process:

Wrap up

If your marketing emails are getting sent straight to spam, that equals wasted time, wasted budget, and wasted resources.
To make sure your subscribers actually see your messages, you have to: 
  • Engage in best practices.
  • Follow the rules outlined in legislation like the CAN-SPAM Act.
  • Seek to add value to your readers’ lives through targeted, relevant email content.
Use these methods and techniques to hit more inboxes and you’ll see better results from your email marketing campaigns. Best of luck!

About the Author

Grace Miller is a content writer with a passion for grammar and the public library. When she isn't writing for Emma, she's probably writing fiction, reading another thriller, or listening to a true crime podcast.

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