How to Stop Your Emails from Being Marked as Spam

No matter the nature of your company or the industry it belongs to, prioritizing email marketing is essential for your business.

In fact, an overwhelming 89% of marketers have cited email as their primary tool for lead generation.

If you’re dedicating effort to your email marketing strategy, you’re on the right track.

However, simply bombarding your subscribers with promotional emails doesn’t guarantee effectiveness.

Some of your well-crafted emails might end up in the spam folder.

You meticulously crafted your content, but the outcome fell short of your expectations. What went wrong?

In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve into various reasons why your emails face the spam label. This guide was born from the intention to assist you in uncovering what’s causing your messages to be flagged.

Even if your current emails are not facing this issue, this guide will still offer valuable insights. Comprehending these email principles and adopting best practices for crafting marketing content will shield you from making such mistakes in the future.

In an ideal scenario, your emails would seamlessly land in the recipient’s inbox, prompt them to open, and eventually lead to clicks and conversions.

However, the truth is, conversions won’t materialize if your content is continuously flagged as spam.

Lack of consideration in your marketing automation campaigns might inadvertently label you as a spammer.

Moreover, a content mishap might have repercussions beyond innocent errors – you might unknowingly be in violation of the law.

By keeping my suggestions at the forefront and using this guide as a reference going forward, you’ll be equipped to prevent your emails from triggering spam filters. Let’s dive right in.

Top tips to stop:

Don’t buy subscribers

Limit your sending frequency

Use a clearly labeled “from” field address

Don’t try to trick the recipient

Choose the right service provider


Table of Contents

Understanding how consumers define spam

Remember the days when identifying spam was a breeze? You’d receive a message claiming you won a contest you never entered, and the subject line would be a constellation of stars and suspicious symbols. Such messages would often come from unfamiliar senders, and you might even recall instances of spam featuring explicit content. Those were the times when malicious attachments and phishing scams were common in spam emails.

But as email software evolved, these unwelcome messages found themselves exiled to the spam folder. Yet, an interesting shift has occurred – legitimate brands are now facing the spam label. The definition of spam for consumers has transformed:

What is Spam, Anyway? As it turns out, consumers report messages as spam even when they recognize the sender. Even senders with permission to email them can end up flagged as spam. This shift has significant implications.

Imagine a scenario where someone voluntarily subscribes to your brand’s emails and still finds your content relegated to the spam folder.

Research reveals that a whopping 57% of individuals consider excessive emails or irrelevant content as triggers for labeling messages as spam. This shift redefines the landscape for marketers.

So, what does this mean for you, the marketer?

It implies that your well-intentioned promotional emails are now at risk of being marked as spam. Being a reputable brand and adhering to the boundaries of your subscribers’ list doesn’t grant immunity from this evolving consumer behavior.

But before we delve into the strategies to tackle this challenge, let’s take a moment to discuss a fundamental aspect – understanding email marketing laws that govern your practices.

Navigating the Legal Landscape Image of a balance. A quick note: We’re not lawyers, and the following insights are derived from basic web research. Always consult with legal experts before taking action.

Now, let’s talk about the law. In the early days of the internet, questionable marketing practices resulted in a federal crackdown on email misuse.

Enter the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, signed into law by President George W. Bush. This act established the U.S.’s first national standards for email marketing, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The CAN-SPAM Act, also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, aims to protect consumers from unwanted emails. It supersedes many state laws, ensuring uniformity in email marketing regulations.

Rest assured, the FTC offers a clear set of actionable guidelines to keep you compliant. Here’s an excerpt from their guidelines:

The FTC’s Email Marketing Guidelines

  • Be Transparent: Ensure accurate identification of sender details, including “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information.
  • No Deceptive Lines: Maintain honest and relevant subject lines reflecting the message content.
  • Disclose Ads: Clearly and conspicuously mark emails as advertisements.
  • Share Your Location: Include a valid physical postal address.
  • Opt-Out Clarity: Explain how recipients can opt out of future emails, making it easy to understand.
  • Honor Opt-Out Requests: Process opt-out requests within 10 days and avoid transferring email addresses to third parties.
  • Monitor Third-Party Activities: Maintain legal responsibility even when outsourcing email marketing.

Non-compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act can result in penalties of up to $42,530 per email violation. So, it’s wise to consult a legal professional before embarking on your email marketing journey.

With the legal foundation established, let’s delve into a series of strategies – 11 to be exact – that can help you navigate the delicate balance of email delivery and avoid the dreaded spam label.

1. Don’t buy subscribers

As previously mentioned, even individuals who have willingly subscribed to a brand’s emails are occasionally marking those messages as spam.

Engaging in the practice of purchasing email lists and distributing content to individuals who have not opted to receive them significantly increases the likelihood of your messages landing in the spam folder.

Moreover, by doing so, you open yourself up to potential violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, a regulation enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

In the grand scheme of things, sending unsolicited emails proves to be a futile strategy. Beyond potential legal consequences, it can severely damage your brand’s reputation.

Consider the perspective of an average office worker who encounters a staggering 121 emails per day. They have little patience for sifting through undesired communications.

Imagine you are in their shoes. Would you be inclined to make a purchase based on a promotional email from an unfamiliar brand that you never signed up for? The answer is likely negative.

Anticipating positive outcomes from such unwanted messages is unrealistic.

Rather than this ineffective approach, your focus should shift towards expanding your email list through the acquisition of new subscribers. Implement signup forms across your website.

Studies indicate that email opt-in forms are most commonly placed in the footer of each webpage.

An illustrative representation of opt-in form placement. Give this technique a shot, and observe the growth of your email list.

Subsequently, your promotional content will reach individuals who genuinely wish to hear from you, as opposed to being sent to arbitrary email addresses you obtained through a purchase.

2. Limit your sending frequency

As an entrepreneur, your brand occupies your thoughts around the clock. I can completely understand this sentiment.

Constantly brainstorming innovative ways to promote your business is second nature to you.

However, it’s important to recognize that your clients and email subscribers may not view your brand with the same intensity. This is simply a fact of life. Can you really blame them?

Their minds are preoccupied with matters of greater significance, and bombarding them with messages from you may not always be a top priority.

Sending out promotional emails on a daily basis won’t necessarily work in your favor. Instead, the key lies in discernment when dispatching a new communication.

In terms of receiving emails, customers often cite frequent email deliveries as the single most vexing behavior by marketers:

Illustration depicting the most exasperating aspect of receiving an email offer from a marketer. My suggestion would be to limit such messages to a weekly frequency at the maximum.

You might even consider adjusting the sending schedule to align with the subscriber’s preferences.

Upon a new customer’s subscription for your content, inquire about their desired frequency of communication. This way, you can categorize the list into segments based on those who prefer weekly interactions versus those who opt for a monthly newsletter.

By delivering precisely what your subscribers have requested, you mitigate the likelihood of being flagged as spam.

3. Use a clearly labeled “from” field address

Ensuring Clarity in Sender Identification

It’s crucial to establish transparency when it comes to the sender of your emails. Within your domain, there might be various email addresses, especially in larger companies. This diversity serves different purposes depending on the context.

For instance, when a customer submits a complaint or seeks assistance on your website, their initial interaction might be with On the other hand, for transactions like purchases or returns, email correspondences may take place through

Consistency is key in the sender field. It’s advisable to stick with the sender address that resonates best with your promotional content. Unusual choices, such as or, should be avoided.

Building a reliable reputation for these sender addresses is paramount. It fosters trust among your subscribers, potentially prompting them to add the address to their contacts.

Imagine if your subscribers are accustomed to receiving marketing emails from a specific sender address, and suddenly a message arrives from a different one. This shift can trigger confusion, and even mislead them into believing it’s spam, even if the email is genuinely from your company. Maintaining a consistent and identifiable sender field is essential for a seamless communication experience.

4. Don’t try to trick the recipient

In a misguided attempt to boost email open rates, some marketers resort to tactics aimed at misleading their subscribers into clicking on their messages.

However, this approach is a grave misstep, as such deceptive practices can significantly tarnish your brand’s reputation.

Beyond merely causing recipients to flag your message as spam, this kind of behavior could lead them to unsubscribe from your email list altogether. Shockingly, over fifty percent of consumers report feeling duped or cheated into opening promotional emails:

Graph depicting the impact of deceitful subject lines. Let’s delve into specific strategies that recipients perceive as deceitful.

Avoid commencing your subject line with “Fwd:” or “Re:” in a bid to increase opens. This wording suggests a prior interaction with the subscriber, and if this isn’t the case, it can leave a negative impression.

Sending an email proclaiming someone as a winner of a prize they haven’t legitimately won is another ill-advised tactic. Employing such an approach is a swift route to disappointing recipients and having your content labeled as spam.

Furthermore, I’ve come across instances where marketers attempt to conceal spammy content by incorporating text within an image.

While this may temporarily outsmart spam filters, it certainly won’t deceive the recipient who opens the email. Ultimately, such a message is likely to find its way to the spam folder regardless.

5. Choose the right service provider

In the vast landscape of marketing automation and email marketing, there are countless options available. However, not all of them are created equal—some may have questionable histories or engage in spammy practices.

When selecting a partner, prioritize those with a proven positive track record. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. Choose to collaborate with companies that have established themselves as trustworthy and reliable.

6. Certify your IP

Boost your credibility with email providers by certifying your IP address. While this step might involve a significant financial investment, it’s a move that can yield substantial benefits. Conduct a thorough cost/benefit analysis before making a decision.

7. Set clear expectations

Right from the outset, establish transparent communication with your audience. Send an introductory email that outlines what they can anticipate from your future correspondence. Make this information available even before subscribers describe their preferences.

Here’s what you should clearly communicate:

Content: Clearly define the type of content your emails will deliver—whether it’s insightful blog posts, valuable tips, or enticing promotional offers. Pinterest provides an excellent example of this approach. Frequency: Inform your subscribers about the frequency of your emails. Consistency is key; irregular gaps between messages may lead to disinterest. Design: Offer a sneak peek of your newsletter’s layout to align with your audience’s expectations. Consistency in design avoids catching them off guard with unexpected elements.

8. Stay relevant

Content is at the heart of effective email marketing. Before hitting that “send” button, scrutinize your content through these lenses: What purpose does this email serve? Does it genuinely add value to the subscriber’s experience?

If you find it challenging to answer these questions, it might be time to reevaluate your message.

Avoid sending emails merely as a casual greeting or a reminder of your brand’s existence. Your subscribers seek meaningful content.

Understanding Spam Triggers

One critical aspect of staying relevant is understanding why emails often get flagged as spam. Delve into the top reasons behind such occurrences.

As previously discussed, the frequency of emails can influence spam reports. However, relevance plays an equally crucial role.

Irrelevant content, even if sent periodically, can lead to your emails ending up in the spam folder. Consider this example: if your ecommerce website specializes in home furniture, sending weather updates would likely be perceived as irrelevant and unrelated to your brand.

Maintaining Consistency

Always strive to remain aligned with your brand. Consistency in content and messaging helps establish your brand’s identity and fosters a sense of connection with your subscribers.

When in Doubt, Offer Incentives

If you’re uncertain about the content to send, especially after a lull in communication, incentives can be your savior. Launch a flash sale, share an exclusive personalized offer, or provide a discount code.

These types of messages are not only likely to capture your audience’s attention but also prompt action, ultimately boosting conversions.

9. Segment your list

Segmenting your audience based on demographic variables or web traffic source is a strategic approach that can greatly impact your email marketing success. When done right, segmentation can lead to higher engagement rates and more effective campaigns. In this analysis, we delve into the outcomes of employing audience segmentation, showcasing how segmented lists outperform overall email list averages in terms of open and click-through rates.

A Real-Life Illustration of the Power of Segmentation

Let’s walk through a practical example of how segmentation can revolutionize your email marketing strategy. Imagine you run an online clothing store. By segmenting your audience into categories like gender, age group, and shopping preferences, you’re able to tailor your messages precisely to each subgroup’s interests. The result? A surge in engagement. Open rates soar as recipients find content that resonates with them, leading to more clicks and ultimately boosting your conversion rates.

  • The Art of Crafting Irresistible Subject Lines

Crafting compelling subject lines is the cornerstone of a successful email marketing campaign. Your email’s fate hinges on those few words—it’s the key that either unlocks engagement or leaves your message unread. Research emphasizes the importance of brevity, showing that subject lines with 1 to 20 characters yield the highest open rates across all types of emails. This rings especially true as a significant chunk of emails (55%) are accessed via mobile devices.

Mobile Compatibility and the Battle Against Spam

Optimizing subject line length for mobile viewing is a crucial aspect of your email strategy. A lengthy subject line risks being cut off on mobile screens, potentially leading to decreased open rates. But open rates are just one side of the coin; the other is the dreaded spam folder. Shockingly, nearly 70% of emails are flagged as spam based solely on the subject line.

10. Master your subject lines

To mitigate the risk of getting marked as spam and to amplify open rates, consider personalization. Personalized subject lines have proven to garner higher open and click-through rates, while also driving website traffic and sales. Inject urgency into your subject lines by introducing limited-time offers, ensuring the essence of urgency is effectively conveyed. Engage your readers with stories, breaking news, or thought-provoking questions—these subject line techniques work wonders in captivating your audience’s attention and preventing your emails from being relegated to the spam folder.


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