Email marketing: Why Your Emails Go in the Spam Box

Email marketing: Why Your Emails Go in the Spam Bo …

Email marketing : Why Your Emails Go in the Spam Box

Emails have high success rate or return of investment, more than four times higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search. However, there are issues that all email marketers must cope with which is falling into the dreaded black hole or we call spam folder. 20 percent of all commercial emails usually wind up as spam. At this point, email is almost always a goner at the point. How many people are actually going to take the time to sort through through their spam folder to see if maybe, your email was accidentally diverted there? Your guess is right, zero. This is hugely problematic because the average open rate is only 30 percent and even lower for certain industries. So, let us dive into the common reasons why emails go to spam. 

1. Get Permission

The first rule of email marketing is to always have permission before sending an email. You should never buy a list of emails or obtain them through any other unscrupulous means. Not only is it unethical, it’s ineffective and can potentially land you in some hot legal water. 

Therefore, email addresses should only be added when someone willingly opts-in. It is really that simple. Otherwise, there is a good chance that it will end up as spam, or in a worst-case scenario, you could be subject to a fine. 

2. Inaccurate sender’s information 

‘Your ‘From,’ ‘To,’ ‘Reply-To,’ and routing information—including the originating domain name and email address, must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message. In other words, you must clearly state who you are (or who your company is) and not include any inaccurate information that could mislead someone. 

3. No Physical Address

This may be surprising to some email marketers but your message should include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, residing or office address. 

Otherwise, you are not following their requirements and your email could be marked as spam. It is all about having some degree of genuine traceability. Hence, you will notice that nearly all legit businesses include their physical address toward the bottom of each email.

It does not have to be obvious; it just has to be there. The ones who most commonly make this mistake are the small business owners who work from their home simply because they do not want to have their home address advertised to the masses. In this case, your best bet is to get a postal code that you can use instead of your home address.

4. Trigger words are used

Email filters still look at the content within your email to decide whether it goes into the spam folder of your customer’s inbox. Promotions slogan like “Double your income!” or “You are a Winner!” is a guaranteed way to gain unwanted attention from those filters. If they discover questionable “trigger words,” your email is likely to be flagged and sent to spam even if you have the best of intentions.  Thus, it is important to know which specific words to avoid.

5. Your Headline Is Weak

An email’s headline is everything. Besides the name of the sender, it is the only thing a recipient has to go on when deciding whether the email is legit and whether they should open it.  More than half of email recipients usually report email as spam based solely on the subject line. Besides steering clear of trigger words, there are some other subject line best practices you will want to follow to keep your emails out of the spam abyss. 

These include:

  • Not using excessive capital letters, which indicates that you’re shouting at recipients
  • Not going overboard with exclamation points
  • Not making false promises 
  • Not sounding like push-over, or too sales-oriented
  • Put yourself in recipient’s shoe, tweak your headline until it is presentable

6. Attachments are included

Attachments should be evaded for two reasons. First, they alert spam filters and reduce the chances of your email making it to the recipient’s inbox. In their algorithms, an attachment might be carrying some potential virus which is just waiting to overtake an unsuspecting victim’s device. 

Second, they can slow down the load time of the email, especially if they are big and bulky. Generally, there is no need to send a commercial email with an attachment. All of the information, offer and call-to-action could and should be included right in the body.

7. Large Image with Minimal Text 

Integrating visuals into marketing campaigns has never been more popular.  In fact, creating visual content is a top priority for most B2C content creators. So, it is easy to see why many marketers would want their emails to be image-heavy. It is simply a matter of aesthetics. Most professional looking emails usually contain images. However, using a large image with minimal text can sometimes get you into trouble. Heavy emails without much text can raise a red flag for spam filters. This theory was formulated because spammers sometimes display information in large images instead of text so that the filter programs cannot ‘read’ the content. 

At the end of the day, spam filters could easily misinterpret this type of email and think you are scammer. You need to be aware of this fact. It does not mean that you should not use images at all, but you should be aware of your text to image ratio and strive for 60/40, meaning that your email should be roughly 60 percent text and 40 percent image. Stick with this formula and you should be in good shape. 

8. No Opt-Out/Unsubscribe Link

I am sure that you will not want to receive any more emails from a particular company, but there was no way to unsubscribe? It happens all the time and it is super irritating to some degree. If you do this, you annoy will subscribers or your emails will likely end up in the spam folder. So, it is vital (not to mention legally required) to have an unsubscribe link for users to opt-out. 

9. Inactive Addresses

Emails are sent to an inactive address and therefore not delivered. If this is done on a large scale and consistently sent to inactive email addresses, spam filters will often penalize your domain or ISP. In return, this greatly increases the odds of your emails going to spam. 

Hence, make sure that you are continually “cleaning” your email list and deleting inactive addresses. 

10. Incorrect Spelling and Grammar

Surprisingly, frequency of spelling and grammatical errors that occur in phishing emails are quite frequent. This is often the result of non-native English-speaking hackers using translating tools to convert their text into English. In the end, they ended up sounding strange and messages were gibberish or do not make sense. This triggers spam filters on high alert, and most likely the spelling and grammatical errors could land your email in the spam folder. Furthermore, it looks unprofessional to your audience. 

You need to be extra diligent about double and even triple-checking each email before sending it out. Although email spell checks are good for catching errors, they are not certainly fully reliable. Sometimes good-old fashioned proofreading by a human is your best tool for revising your emails.  


You are not some Nigerian prince looking to share a portion of your inheritance with someone in exchange for a nominal fee. You are simply a meticulous email marketer looking to connect with leads and nurture them until they ultimately make a purchase. Spam filters do not necessarily know that, and most people have very little patience dealing with any spammy emails. 

In order to get your email read, you must first get them opened. To do that, it’s essential that your emails aren’t sent to spam. While there is a plethora of reasons why this happens, the common ones are listed here and fortunately they are mostly preventable. 

By familiarizing yourself with the logic behind spam filters as well as the thought process of actual human readers, you should be able to eliminate any the risk of your emails going to spams. As a result, more of your emails will end up where they’re supposed to—in inboxes. 

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