Avoiding the Spam Folder



For a wide variety of businesses, email is regarded as a very important tool.  If targeted well, it is a great way to drive new business and to retain existing customers.

Email also provides marketers with a wealth of information about how their email has performed – open rate and click through rate are very commonly used, but one factor that is often overlooked is whether the emails have actually been delivered to the recipient, or whether the email has arrived in the Spam folder, condemned to a life surrounded by requests for bank account details and medicine of questionable origin.

So, how can you make sure that your email is being seen by you audience?  Here are my 5 tips:

Get a sending schedule – if you are sending your email out to a large number of recipients, it may make sense to drip-feed the emails rather than sending all at once.  Sending hundreds of thousands of emails at once is classic spamming behaviour and is to be avoided.

Maintain a clean database – sending emails to ‘bad’ email accounts can also trigger a trip to the spam folder.  If you are serious about your email marketing, a clean database is a must – any accounts which have undelivered emails because the account doesn’t exist or is disabled should be removed from your database.  These are not easy to find, but well worth the effort.

Honour unsubscribes – no-one likes unsubscribes, but when someone wants to unsubscribe, you should honour it.  The reason why is that if you continue to send emails to people who don’t want to receive them, you will draw complaints of spamming – and you will end up in the spam folder.

Get a mix of image and text – sending one large image as your email is likely to make for an attractive email (if the picture is downloaded), but for email providers, this screams out spam.  The reason for this is because email providers struggle to see what an image contains – and spammers have used this tactic in the past to send an image which, if it was written with text, would be blocked.

Mind your language – the language that you use will be tracked by the email provider.  There are a number of trigger words which will encourage the provider to put you into spam, and these can include buy; order; clearance; free; fast; cash; ALL CAPS; act now; 100%; best price.  This list can change between email providers, but keep your use of these words to an absolute minimum.

All email providers are different, and some have different rules to others, but bearing these five tips in mind will help your email marketing become more successful.

Avoiding Spam



Email marketing is a popular marketing tool for most businesses.  It’s cheap and if done well, it can be an effective direct response channel.  However, this assumes that your recipient receives your email in their inbox.  To do this, you need to keep your email out of the Spam folder which is trickier than you might think.  So, here are my 8 tips to keep your email out of the Spam folder:

  • Watch Your Email Size: This is one of the tests that most email service providers (ESPs) will run.  If your email file size is too big (more than around 50kb) then the recipient may not see it
  • Avoid Random Characters: If you are using ‘!’ instead of ‘I’, or separating words with ‘.’ then it’s difficult to read, and your email is probably going to end up with the rest of the spam
  • Purchased Lists: It is very tempting to buy a list which seems like it is full of your target audience, but not all lists are of a good quality.  Sending your email to a purchased list may result in a large number of unsubscribes or complaints, which will alert the ESP to your email – and make it more likely to be Spam
  • Deceptive subject lines: This not only a challenge the words you use, but also the format.  Starting your email campaign subject line with ‘FW:’ or ‘RE:’ is deceptively encouraging people to open your email.  Classic spammer behaviour
  • Put a SPF on your DNS: Ensuring that your DNS settings have an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record, as this will indicate that a server can send an email on behalf of your website.  It’s almost a validation of your email
  • Avoid all caps: Overuse of capital letters makes emails tough to read and is spammy.  Also, there are some trigger words that you should avoid, e.g. free, no gimmick, act now
  • Clear Unsubscribe Link: All of your email marketing should offer the recipient a way out of their agreement to receive your emails.  The unsubscribe link should be clearly displayed in your email.
  • Avoid lazy code: ESPs are on the lookout for sloppy code, so make sure that you employ a professional coder to write your email communications.  It will render better on a range of ESPs and is more likely to avoid the Spam filter

Do you have any tips to avoid the Spam filter?  Leave a comment and let me know!