Have your open rates suddenly plunged to single digits without warning or explanation? Don’t panic! Your subscribers still love you. They simply didn’t get a chance to open your newsletter. Why?
In 99% of these cases, your plummeting open rate is a result of your newsletter accidentally ending up in that nasty place we call the junk folder.
We know your newsletter is not junk. But unfortunately, it was flagged by an email spam filter. This is a frustrating experience because there is not always an obvious reason why the filter put your newsletter into the wrong folder.
Your subscribers want to open your newsletter, but they need to receive it first. In this blog post, we will share some of the best ways to avoid spam filters when sending your emails.
Believe it or not, spam filters are your friend. Unsolicited emails, commonly known as spam, are a huge problem. There are over 200 billion emails sent on a daily basis and 59% of those are spam!
You don’t want all those bad emails competing with your valuable newsletter in your recipient’s inbox. That said, spam filters are not perfect and often flag good emails.
An email spam filter is basically a program that uses an algorithm to determine if an email is spam. Some of these protocols focus on different aspects of the email such as:
Filters email headers that use false information.
Looks for common words associated with spam.
Blocks all emails from known spammers.
Email owners define specific rules to block emails they don’t like.
These are just a few of the ways that spam filters analyze your emails. The important thing for you is to do everything in your power to avoid these spam filters and end up where you belong—your subscriber’s inbox.
So, how to prevent emails from going to spam? Here are 9 things you can start doing today that will help you avoid deliverability issues and stay away from that nasty junk folder.
It’s perfectly fine to send emails to your friend or colleague from domains like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, etc. However, when it comes to bulk email delivery, it is not a good idea.
To prevent emails from going to spam, you should always send newsletters from your own domain email that matches your domain name.
Why? Because MailerLite works closely with email clients, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail, to whitelist your domain or IP address. If you send bulk email from other domains, you are running the risk of sending your newsletters straight to the junk pile or landing on a blacklist. Spammers will send phishing emails from domains that aren’t their own. So if email client algorithms can’t determine your identity, they may assume you’re sending spam emails.
You should also avoid making frequent changes to your “From” field names, and don’t use strange names like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Use clear and reliable names like “newsletter@”, “contact@” or “feedback@”.
The best approach is to personalize your address using a real name, e.g. email@example.com. It’s much more engaging than something uninviting like “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Personalization is important in email marketing, in the guide below we'll explain why.
Ok, you followed step 1 and added a personal email address like email@example.com to the sender field. That is a great start. But before you push send, there is 1 more step to optimize your domain. It’s called Domain authentication.
Domain authentication is a method to legitimize your bulk sending domain with our servers so they can send emails on your behalf. You can authenticate your domain by adding new DKIM and SPF records to your DNS panel. This helps email spam filters tolerate your bulk mailing and validates your domain. Domain authentication is a sure-fire way to prove to email accounts that you’re sending legitimate emails.
We wrote a short guide on how to authenticate your email with MailerLite.
As we mentioned earlier, email spam filters are always checking your email content. They don’t have the human ability to analyze email copy in context, so they basically flag any words or phrases associated with spam. If they find a spammy word, they are nastier than Chuck Norris.
While there are no magic keywords to improve your email deliverability, you can limit the use of risky words to reduce the chance of landing in the spam folder.
Tips on how to optimize your email content to avoid spam filters:
Link only to legitimate sites with reputable domains. Check all your affiliate links to ensure they are above board.
Don’t go crazy with email length. Email spam filters don’t like newsletters that are a mile long. There is not a perfect newsletter length. But if you have more than 200 words or the reader has to work hard to get through it, shorten it.
Balance your images and text. Spam filters see images as blank space. If you send a newsletter with one large image and no copy, they will consider it as an empty email and your days will be numbered.
Don’t use too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Avoid writing text in red.
Make sure you are not writing in ALL CAPS. IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE SCREAMING! Nobody likes that.
Avoid spam trigger words phrases like “Please click here”, “Don’t miss this!”, “This is not spam!”, etc.
There’s no better way for you to understand your customer’s email experience than by sending yourself the exact same email beforehand. Even if you created your newsletter using a template, it’s always a good idea to send a test email.
Sending yourself test emails allows you to review the campaign’s layout and readability. It also gives you an opportunity to see if your campaign lands in the promotions folder or spam.
To find out why your email is going to spam instead of inbox, you can use a newsletter checker like Inbox insights from MailerCheck to find out exactly what is increasing your spam score. Whether it be an issue with your email’s HTML, content, links or your sender reputation. Inbox insights can provide an inside look into your newsletter metrics before you send it. That way, if needed, you can tweak exactly what needs to be adjusted rather than overhauling your entire email marketing campaign.
It is not just you. Everyone is tempted to grow their list by 100,000 potential customers by simply buying a list. If you are still considering this idea, stop!
Purchased lists are like ticking time bombs. Sooner or later they will destroy your reputation. Filled with non-existing email addresses and spam traps, they quickly inform mailbox providers that you like to break the rules by sending unsolicited emails.
Your messages will end up in junk folders. Even worse, you may be marked as a spammer.
To send an email using MailerLite, the email recipient must be someone who has specifically asked to receive your emails by opting in or signing up in some way. If you are an online business, it can also be someone who has bought a product or service from you in the past 18 months.
When people unsubscribe from your newsletter it's always a little disappointing. However, it's important that you let people unsubscribe by offering a clear unsubscribe link in every newsletter (normally positioned at the end of an email).
If you don't, you risk the chance that people will mark your email as spam because they don't see any other way to unsubscribe from your emails. So be a good human and make sure the unsubscribe link is part of your newsletter layout. It'll be worth it.
Surely, you'll end up with one subscriber less on your list, but you can give a positive twist to unsubscribes. When you add a survey to your unsubscribe page, you can collect feedback and take notes on why people are no longer interested in your emails. With each unsubscribe, you now at least get the opportunity to improve your email marketing.
Your email subject line is crucial for your open rate, but it's also an important part of reducing spam marks. People can take a quick look at your subject line and decide to mark it as spam. That's why we advise you to put some thought into your subject line. You can use the tips mentioned earlier (avoid all caps, fishy phrases and excess use of exclamation marks) to create a risk-free subject line.
In most cases, you'll be more than fine if your subject line is relevant and written with the reader in mind.
Your sender reputation is a score that is calculated by ISPs (internet service providers) based on factors like content quality, subscriber interaction, bounce rates and overall email deliverability rates.
The most effective way to optimize your email deliverability is to keep a healthy email list made up of valid and engaged subscribers.
To maintain a high-quality email list, start by using these 4 strategies:
Send ultra-relevant emails using groups (aka email tagging) - By only sending subscribers newsletters they want to read, your overall engagement will increase
Re-engage inactive subscribers with win-back email campaigns - Give your subscribers one last chance to engage with your content. If they’re still not interested delete them off your list and make room for more engaged subscribers
Regularly clean your list using a mail tester (we love MailerCheck) - Doing this will make sure all invalid email addresses, like hard bounces, are filtered out of your list. This is particularly useful for email marketers migrating their address book from another ESP (email service provider) to MailerLite
Enable double opt-in on your signup forms - Turn bots away at the door by enabling double opt-in on your sign up forms
A clean list will avoid spam trap hits and reduce the risk of your sender reputation getting damaged.
In our article on how to improve your own email deliverability, we'll explain how you can identify and remove email addresses that aren't doing your subscriber list any good. We'll also talk about the most common deliverability mistakes to avoid.
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email. Besides avoiding hefty fines, complying the rules laid out in the CAN-SPAM Act greatly can greatly improve your email deliverability.
Some of the main requirements outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act include:
Tell email recipients where you’re located - Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box or a private mailbox. You can automatically include your company name and address in your email footer in your account settings
Tell recipients how to opt-out - Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Luckily MailerLite will remind you if your forget to include an unsubscribe link in your newsletter
Honor opt-out requests promptly - You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. Luckily, MailerLite handles this for you by automatically removing subscribers who unsubscribe from your active list. But keep in mind that some subscribers may reply to your newsletter and ask to be removed, you will need to remove these subscribers from your list manually
Follow the simple tips above and you will avoid most email spam filters, stop your emails from going to spam, and keep your open rate healthy.
In the video below, Marcin will talk more about avoiding spam filters.
P.S. As a bonus tip, when confirming or greeting your new subscribers (e.g. via a welcome email), ask them to add your “From” address to their contacts. It is a clever way to bypass those spam filters. It never hurts to ask and it is highly effective.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2015, but has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.