Why do my emails go to spam?

Emails are a very effective way of marketing but there's always a risk of some emails getting caught by spam filters. Follow these tips to avoid the spam folder.

What is spam?

There are a lot of definitions of spam. But as a general rule spam is defined as the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited messages. In plain english, if you send people emails that they haven’t at some point asked to receive you’re sending them spam.

The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 contains these key points:

  • Never use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines
  • Always provide an unsubscribe link (always included with Minutemailer)
  • The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending
  • You must include your physical mailing address

What constitutes an email as spam isn’t always well-defined. However, to help ensure you don’t fall on spammy-side up, we have collected some good tips to have in mind when you create your emails:

Authenticate your email domain.

With Minutemailer you can start sending using your email address within minutes when signing up. But to ensure better delivery we recommend that you authenticate your email domain and a DMARC record. Read our guide to authenticating your domain.

Spread out your emails.

Don't email all your contacts at once. Divide your contacts into different lists and email them at different times.

At Minutemailer, we also have a function to spread out large mailings over time (max. 24h) automatically for better delivery. You can choose it per sendout when you go to Test & send. Please do so if you send to more than 1,000 contacts at a time and are not in a hurry to get the email out.

Avoid purchased and none active lists.

Have you received an offer to purchase millions of email addresses? Does it sound to good to be true? Well, you will probably get the email addresses if you buy them but it’s a very bad idea to send emails to that list. At best, your messages may end up in junk folders. At worst, you may be branded as a spammer (and end up being blacklisted). Our advice is to avoid them completely and start collecting real contact information from people that want to have your emails.

Almost as bad as purchased lists are old inactive lists. Just because someone wrote down their email address five years ago doesn’t mean they want an email from you today.

Watch your language.

Be careful on how you write your emails. Spam filters check the words and content of your emails as a way of deciding if it’s spam or not.

Avoid these things:

  • Using phrases like “Click here now!” or “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
  • Excessive use of exclamation points!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS. Especially in the subject line.
  • Using too many risky words like "prize", "free", "bonus", "buy", "purchase" etc.
  • Using bad content. Make sure your content is interesting for your readers, not too long and easy to digest.

Avoid dirty tricks.

Trying to trick spam filters might have worked before but today you risk a bad reputation for doing it.

Here are some old tricks to avoid:

  • Hashbusting. Inserting random characters in the subject line or content to fool spam filters, e.g. “F.ree. p.r!z.e”.
  • Deceptive subject lines. Starting the subject line with “Re:” or “Fwd:” to suggest an ongoing communication with the sender.
  • Misleading claims. Subject line stating that the recipient has won a prize, while the copy lists conditions that have to be met in order to claim it.
  • Image text. Concealing a text message in an image to fool spam filters.

Pick a good "From" address.

When it comes to emails your “From” address says a lot about you. Make sure you pick a good one to send from. A personal email address is often better than a noreply@domain.com address. Don’t change it often and ask your contacts to add you to their address book if they haven’t already.

Don't use too few words.

Only using images in an email is a warning sign that something isn’t right. Try to write at least a sentence or two for every image you have in your email. Also add alternative texts to your images, to make the email easier to understand if the recipient has images turned off.

Pay attention to your links.

Make sure you only link to reputable sites. Spam filters will check your links and see if there is something fishy with the destination website. Set your links to use https if your website supports it.

Be careful with your subject line.

Don’t write “Test” in the subject line and try to avoid to many exclamation points and using ALL CAPS. The subject line should also summarise the intention of your email, or look to say something friendly and not be misleading.

Now give it a try.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to avoiding spam filters but if you have contacts that want to receive your emails and you send them something that interests them you are going to be just fine. If you are unsure just try different ways of doing your emails and see what works best.

Good luck with your emails and let us know if you run into any problems!

To learn more about what bounces, delivered and dropped mean read our guide to email delivery.

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