- On 27/08/2019
Worried about your emails going to the spam folder? We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’re sharing some common reasons why your emails go to spam instead of the inbox and what you can do to prevent them from doing so in the future. As you’re about to see, you’ll be able to fix most of these issues all by yourself as they’re directly related either to what’s inside of your email messages or how you build and manage your email lists. Only a few will require some additional help from your email marketing software provider.
1. You are contacting people without permission
There’s nothing wrong in wanting a big email list. Although our studies show that email marketers with the largest lists tend to have lower average email open rates, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that their potential to generate sales revenue is huge. But having a big contact list shouldn’t be a goal in itself. And you shouldn’t aim for it at all costs.
Recent regulations like the GDPR or the upcoming CCPA have become stricter about how email marketers handle customer personal information. It’s no longer enough that you give your email recipients the option to unsubscribe. Before you start sending your email campaigns, you should always make sure that you have the permission to do so. If you neglect that, you’re not only risking that your emails will be going to spam, but also that you’ll be fined.
Pro tip: If you want to stop your emails from going to spam, make sure to always exclude contacts who haven’t given you the right consent. This will help you avoid making mistakes when you’re running email marketing campaigns that aren’t dedicated to your entire database.
2. You don’t tell your subscribers what are they subscribing to
Transparency is key, especially when you’re building an email list. When filling out your signup form, users should be fully aware of what kind of communication they’re going to be receiving in the future. It’s not alright to advertise one service and send emails about another one unless you’ve specified that in your web form. Or to say that you’re just collecting submissions for a competition and end up using the email database for marketing communication.
Be crystal clear about what you’re going to talk about in your emails. And then deliver on that promise. When you do that, you’ll see that your unsubscribe, and complaint rates will drop. And as for your chances of leaving the junk folder – they’ll most definitely increase.
Pro tip: Make sure that your web form, the thank you page following it, and your welcome email clearly state what your users are signing up for. Doing this early in the subscription process improves your chances of building strong relationships with your audience. And, reducing the likelihood of your emails going to spam.
3. It’s difficult to unsubscribe
This one’s among the top reasons why email recipients report emails as spam. If someone wants to stop receiving marketing communication from a particular sender, the last thing they want to do is to spend extra time looking for a way to unsubscribe. The moment they find it difficult or lose trust in their request being processed successfully – they report the message as spam or manually move it to their spam box. In both cases, the marketer is at loss.
Here’s what you should avoid:
-Burying down the unsubscribe link below the main part of your footer (e.g., by adding empty lines on top of it)
-Hiding the unsubscribe link (e.g., by changing the copy or writing in a hard-to-read color)
-Making your recipients contact you to resign from the newsletter
-Making recipients log into some form of a panel to unsubscribe or change their mailing preferences
-Taking unreasonably long to process your users’ requests to unsubscribe
Adding any of the above roadblocks just gets you closer to having your emails marked as spam and having them negatively evaluated by ISPs spam filters.
Pro tip: If you’re seeing that your spam complaints are high and you’ve followed the tips described in points 1-3, you could try providing an additional unsubscribe link right after your preheader text. This may look like a radical move, but it’s better to have more people unsubscribing from your list rather than having them report your messages as spam.
4. Your email frequency is off
Emailing too frequently?
People get tired and start ignoring your emails. They stop engaging with your communication, and because of that, internet service providers (ISPs) such as Gmail move your newsletters to the junk folder. Sending one email every couple of months or so? People don’t remember you and deliberately ignore your emails (maybe even mark them as spam). Or they accidentally miss one or two and lose the chance of seeing your content for several months straight.
As you can see, neither of these options is good for your email deliverability or your ROI. The second one’s problematic for yet another reason. If you have a big email list that you contact only every couple of months, ISPs might get alerted by the sudden email blasts. Such spikes in activity might cause temporary blocks, higher bounce rates, and more emails going to the junk folder.
Pro tip: Set the right email frequency by putting together your key email marketing metrics, like the total number of conversions, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates). Once you decide on the right email schedule, make sure to communicate it to your audience, e.g., in your subscription form or the welcome email.
5. You’re forgetting about email list hygiene
Email list hygiene may sound like a funny term. But it’s a process that can have a massive impact on your email deliverability. Email list hygiene management is about identifying the engaged subscribers, re-engaging those who’ve become unresponsive and getting rid of those who hold no business value. And whom do we mean, when we’re saying that they’re holding no business value?
Not just people who are no longer engaging with your communication, clicked the unsubscribe button or marked your emails as spam. We also mean those who’ve provided a wrong email address or those who’ve abandoned their mailboxes. To keep your list clean – and hygienic – you should use confirmed opt-in (a.k.a. double opt-in) and run re-engagement campaigns on a regular basis. Sending a last resort campaign may work even better if you put it together with a Facebook or Google Ads campaign. By doing this, you’ll make sure that your list is clean from misspelled, inactive, or spam trap emails.
Pro tip: If your list hasn’t been cleaned in a while or you haven’t processed bounces and unsubscribes before, you should start now. The best way to do this is to set up an automated re-engagement campaign that’ll send a couple of emails to those recognized by the system as inactive.
6. You’re using “dirty” tactics
Some marketers will do anything to increase their email open rates. Even if their tactics mean that the recipients are at loss. What sort of tactics are we talking about? For example, adding phrases like “Re:” or “Fwd:” to their email subject lines. Adding these elements is meant to trick the subscribers into thinking that your marketing email is just a regular message they’d receive from a friend or colleague.
Naturally, newsletters and other marketing communication don’t work this way. Although they do include personalization or a friendly from name, they’re not meant to trick people into thinking that they’re sent in response to their previous email.
How about using ‘spammy’ words? You know, words like “buy now” or “free”. Believe it or not, most lists of “words to avoid” are now obsolete. Spam filters have evolved so much, they don’t just look at the direct use of common phrases like the ones above. Using phrases like “cheap” won’t move your emails into the spam folder.
Pro tip: Now that spam filters have become more complex, your main focus should be on increasing your email subscribers’ engagement. One of the best ways to do this is to use email automation. Automated emails are sent in response to your recipients’ actions and preferences, which is why they generate above-average open and click through rates.
7. You’re using the wrong email marketing software
I know this sounds like we’re tooting our own horn, but it’s impossible not to mention a critical factor – your email marketing software.
It’s not only the technology that’s enabling you to send emails to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of recipients within minutes. Your email service provider also plays a big role in delivering your emails to your subscribers’ inboxes.
Let’s take our example.
Here, at Tabellarius, we manage your IPs reputation, process bounces, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and set up feedback loops. Thanks to this, we know when an email address is no longer active, is misspelled, or when the recipient wants to unsubscribe. Once we see such addresses, we remove them from your list, so that your deliverability isn’t affected, and you don’t have to pay extra for contacts that hold no value to your business. We also team up with various ISPs and anti-spam organizations to learn from each other how to better secure our systems and fight spammers and phishers. As a result, our email deliverability is above 95%.
Pro tip: One more thing that’s worth pursuing is email authentication. Setting up the SPF and DKIM records will make you recognizable for the ISP. Identifying you means they’ll be sure you’re not impersonating anyone else. It will also help you increase your reputation and make all the good things you do “stick” to your brand. It will also help you get better knowledge about your reputation.
8. You’re sending your email campaigns from a freemail domain (e.g. Gmail or Yahoo)
When starting their journey with email marketing, marketers often use freemail domains like Gmail or Outlook to send out their newsletters. Up to a certain point, this works fine. Their emails reach the recipients and the marketer doesn’t need to do any extra work to get them delivered. But when their list grows, the freemail domain in the from address is often the reason why their emails end up in the spam folder.
The reason for this is that ISPs prefer to see domains that have been registered by an individual sender, whom they can trackback. Naturally, this is not possible for freemail domains, like Yahoo, Outlook, or Gmail. This may explain why freemail domains are often abused by people who deliberately want to send out spam. The good news is that it’s an easy fix.
All you have to do is set up your own company domain or create a subdomain under your existing domain and use it for your email campaigns. Even if you’re going to use it only in the from address, and not the mailing domain you’re physically sending your messages from, it’s going to help you deliver your message better. That isn’t to say that changing the from address is going to instantly change things for you. Your from address will slowly build a reputation of its own, so it’s best to gradually increase your sending volumes rather than go for a big email blast right away.
Pro tip: I know I’ve mentioned this before, but using tools like the Spam Assassin will help you identify such common mistakes as the freemail domain in your from address.
By running your newsletters through a spam checker, your chances of reaching the inbox grow considerably higher.
9. Your mailing IP has a bad history record
If you’ve gone through all the aforementioned reasons, fixed them, and your emails are still landing in the spam folder – the chances are that your mailing IP is to blame. The IP you’re sending your email campaigns through builds a reputation of its own. And this reputation stays with that address for months, even when nobody’s using the IP to run their email campaigns. This means that if you’ve acquired an IP address (or your email software provider assgined you one), it may have someone else’s reputation still affecting the deliverability.
This isn’t usually a problem, because most email marketing providers use a number of shared IPs to process your campaigns. In other words, the reputation is built by a number of marketers at the same time. Plus, the email traffic is directed through different channels to make sure the deliverability stays intact. Having said this, if you’re experiencing deliverability issues and you’re using your own mailing IP, this is something you should explore further.
Pro tip: To check if your IP is listed on one of the popular blacklists, you can use online tools, like the MXToolBox. Bear in mind that not all blacklists affect your email deliverability. Some were created only for commercial reasons and aren’t used by ISPs when filtering your emails. Even if you do find your IP or domain listed on one of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean your emails will go into the spam folder.