Why Are My Emails Going to Spam?

February 24, 2015

spam stops imageDiscovering that your marketing emails have been languishing in customer’s spam folders can be incredibly frustrating, and it can also be bad for your brand’s reputation. But why does it happen, even when customers have subscribed to your email list? Just as importantly, how can you ensure your emails avoid spam and land happily in your subscribers’ inboxes?
Let’s look firstly at why emails most commonly end up in spam. Each ISP and email provider will have their own rules on filtering spam emails, and some use some very heavy-handed and unusual techniques to keep those inboxes clear of unwanted mail. They don’t publish their filtering practices either, so it can seem quite a mysterious process. This means that you can’t always avoid ending up in spam for every single person you email, but you can dramatically reduce the chances of it happening.

Here are some of the most common reasons why it happens:

1. Particular use of caps, colors punctuation – according to a very useful in-depth guide by MailChimp, excessive use of exclamation marks, whole sentences in capital letters, poor HTML coding and brightly colored fonts can all trigger spam filters.

2. Use of certain phrases. Spam filters see certain phrases and words as being particularly spammy, such as ‘free’, ‘buy’, ‘promo, ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ or ‘click here to win’.

3. The email consists of just a large image. Spam filters have trouble analyzing images where there is little text or other content, so they automatically mark the email as spam.

4.You haven’t emailed the subscriber in a long time. Lack of contact, over 6 months or more, can cause the contact to become ‘stale’ and sending to stale lists can result in the email being spammed.

5.You aren’t sending from a verifiable email address – for example, one inside the company.

6.You’ve been flagged as a spammer by a recipient. This can happen if you’ve been sending a large frequency of emails or you haven’t included a clear option to opt out.

Ways to keep your emails out of spam folders:

While you can’t decipher exactly what criteria spam filters use to analyse emails, there are some rules of thumb to follow if you want to stay out of spam folders. Here are 3 to remember:

1. Be human. Spam filters are designed to look for automation and phishing emails sent out to millions of people, so as a general rule – make sure your emails look like a person, not a machine, has written it.

Manage email frequency.

2. Don’t email too often, for several reasons including annoying your subscribers, but don’t leave it too long between emails either. Spam filters often look at engagement, and customers that open and engage with your emails are more likely to see them in their inbox rather than spam.

3.Be careful what you say. The trigger words for spam filters we mentioned earlier are definitely to be avoided, as are the mistakes with punctuation, formatting and HTML coding.

It’s also a good idea to find out about spam laws and how to abide by them – business resource website Law Donut has some good information for brands.

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