10 Tips to Avoid the Spam Folder

If you are very serious about email deliverability, you should regularly test to ensure your legitimate email gets delivered to the Inbox.

In this post we offer the best email marketing practices you must follow to keep your emails out of the spam folder.

1. Be Compliant with CAN-SPAM

The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them and spells out tough penalties for violations.

The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn't complicated. Here's a rundown of CAN-SPAM's main requirements:

– Don’t use false or misleading header 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.

– Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message. Here is a good subject line spam checker that you can use to test different Subject lines and see if the Subject has any impact on your deliverability.

– Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.

– Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address.

– Tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting emails from you in the future.

– Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.

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– Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

However, if you're sending only transactional emails or relationship content, then you are exempt from these rules. But you must still not include false or misleading routing information.

2. Use Permission Based Marketing

Get permission from your recipients to send them marketing emails. Put a subscription form on your website or landing page and ask visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. 

Take a step further and ask them to confirm their subscription in order to avoid spam and bot subscriptions.

3. Avoid Spam Traps

Spam traps are email addresses that are set up by ISPs and anti-spam organizations with the purpose to determine spammers. As such email addresses are not used by a human, so there is no way how they could be subscribed to anyone's mailing list. Thus, any message sent to a spam trap address is considered spam.

To avoid spam trap emails in your list, do not buy lists from email brokers and do not harvest email addresses on the Internet. Use a confirmed opt-in process on your site or landing page.

4. Ask Recipients to Whitelist You

Take a step further at the point of subscription and ask subscribers to add your sending email address to their whitelists or safe sender lists. You can show the whitelisting instructions directly on the "Thank You" page and then repeat them in your first newsletter.

5. Remove Your IP from Blacklists

If your sending IP address is on a blacklist, it becomes extremely difficult to deliver emails to the subscribers' Inboxes. Use G-Lock Apps IP reputation monitor to check if your email server's IP address is blacklisted or not. You can enable email notifications so that you are notified when the system detects a blacklisting issue.

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If you see that you are on a blacklist, you will need to visit the website that has added you to their blacklist and search for the removal instructions.

Below are good guides you’ll want to check to learn how to find out if your sending IP is blacklisted by Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo and how to request the removal:

How to Remove Your IP Address from Gmail’s Blacklist
How to Remove Your IP Address from the Hotmail/Outlook’s Blacklist
How to Remove Your IP Address from the Yahoo!’s Blacklist

6. Make Sure Your Authentication Records are Setup Properly

Many ISPs look at your authentication records to decide whether to deliver your email to the Inbox or filter it as a spam message. So, you will want to make sure your email server supports these protocols (DKIM, SPF, and Sender ID) and that they are properly implemented. Here you can read the complete guide about email authentication.

G-Lock Apps automatically checks your authentication (DKIM and SPF) so you will see if you have an authentication issue or not in your testing report.

The things we've just covered will ensure that everything is ok with the technical part of your email marketing program. But the way you design your email message does matter as well. So, continue with the list below to make sure that your email newsletter does not look like a spam email.

7. Avoid Spam Trigger and Phishing Phrases

Spam filters do not like commercial advertisements and pure promotions. It doesn't mean that you can't use so-called trigger words, but you should use the words that are common to promotion emails sparingly.

Phishing emails are sent with the purpose to steal the recipient's identity by making them click on a fraudulent link. Commonly phishing emails look like legitimate emails sent from a service you trust, for example, your bank or a website you visit. Thus, try to not use phrases that are common to phishing attacks in your emails.

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8. Send a Text Version Together with HTML

Sending only an HTML part is a common cause why email often lands in the spam folder. Makes sure your email is sent in the MIME (HTML + plain text) format.

Not only is this a good practice for passing through a spam filter, it also plays in your favor in the case where the recipient cannot view HTML emails.

9. Keep a Good Text to Image Ratio

If you want to send images, here are some tips to consider:

– do not send a single image;
– include several lines of text for each image;
– optimize your images the best you can;
– use correct HTML for email.

10. Avoid Certain Attachment Types

Files of the .jpg, .gif, .png, .zip, and .pdf extensions are generally safe to be sent as attachments provided you include some content in the email as well. But executable files such as .exe or .swf should not be sent at all. Larga attachments may also cause your email to be filtered as spam.

So, if you need to send a large attachment or an attachment of a type that usually can be considered spam or trigger virus scanners, it's recommended that you upload the file to the website and send the download link in the email. You can use a service such as DropBox.com to upload the file, or you can upload the file to your company's website if you are worried about the data security.

Check this post for more tips how to avoid email deliverability issues.

G-Lock Apps



Julia Gulevich is an email marketing expert and customer support professional at GlockSoft LLC with more than 15 years of experience. Author of numerous blog posts, publications, and articles about email marketing and deliverability.