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The easy way to prevent your emails going to spam
7 min read

The easy way to prevent your emails going to spam

In the world of email marketing, one of the worst (if not the worst) things is your emails going to spam folders. In fact, it completely defeats the purpose of a targeted email in the first place.

In the world of email marketing, one of the worst (if not the worst) things is your emails going to spam folders. In fact, it completely defeats the purpose of a targeted email in the first place.

I don't know about you, but I don’t check my spam folder much. And even if I do, it’s usually to clear it out completely, and not to read what’s gathered in there.

With that in mind, I created this quick list of reasons your emails go to spam, and how to prevent some of them from happening.

Why are my emails going to spam?

Before we start anything, we first have to understand why emails get sent to spam folders in the first place. This has a really simple explanation.

In reality, web services that provide email accounts have a very strict filtering process. The worst part? It gets more and more strict all the time. I don’t blame them, they have a lot of emails to filter. But, don’t let that scare you.


Yes, these filters will look for what seems like any excuse to throw your emails in spam, but that doesn’t mean that your emails are guaranteed to be tossed in.

Everyone has a different inbox placement rate, but the higher that number, the better. A bad inbox placement rate could result in some pretty nasty stuff. But the bigger idea here is that the more inboxes your emails get delivered to, the higher the open rate will be.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s officially dive into specific reasons why your emails are going to spam, and how to prevent them in the future. Let’s start from the top.

1. You don’t have permission

The biggest reason your emails are going to spam is because people don’t want them in their inbox. In truth, if I see an email that I didn’t ask for and I don’t want in my inbox, it usually gets flagged as spam.

You have to get permission to send these emails to the recipients. This is why email subscriptions exist. If people sign up to receive emails, then they are far less likely to flag them as spam.


For this reason exactly, you should never buy email lists. It's bad practice and can harm your brand a lot more than it can help.

Instead, validate your email list with a tool like DataValidation. That way, you know exactly who you’re sending to, and you can rest assured that you’re taking a big step towards preventing emails from going to spam.

2. Bad IP

If your IP reputation is bad, then odds are that your emails will instantly be filtered as spam. You definitely don’t want that. One of the biggest contributors to a bad IP is a shared IP. While this may be the best option for a lot of people, it certainly comes with drawbacks.

Seeing as any spam email that gets sent on your IP counts negatively towards you, it’s not recommended to share IPs. That being said, there’s not much you can do if this is your case. What you can do, however, is make sure you’re working with a reliable email service provider.

If your email service provider is a good one, then they will do anything they can to make sure you’re provided with quality IP addresses. The outcome will inevitably prevent emails from going to spam folders. That means more eyes on your emails, and hopefully better engagement.

3. No unsubscribe button

Even if someone signed up for your emails, that doesn’t always mean that they will always want to receive them. As sad as it is to say, you will undoubtedly lose some subscribers along the way. While you will definitely gain some, too, there are a few things you can do to try and retain those subscribers.


You could try reaching out with a retargeting campaign, or you could simply let them go. Most of the time, you have to invest a lot of time and money in a customer re-engagement campaign. It may not always be worth it.

Instead of having a lingering, inactive email subscriber, you should definitely give them a quick and painless way to unsubscribe. You may have seen us talk about it before in a previous article on how to manage an email list, but it’s definitely worth bringing it up again here.

If you don’t have an unsubscribe button, people will eventually get fed up with all your emails. If they don’t want your emails anymore, and they don’t have a quick way to unsubscribe, your emails basically have a 1st class ticket to the spam folder.

If you don’t fancy your emails going to spam, just make the unsubscribe button easily visible in every single email you send out. Don’t hide it in content, make it too small, or make it blend in with the background color. Present it loud and proud.

4. Poor email design

If your email looks unprofessional, or is just poorly designed in general, it will probably end up going to spam. While I can’t advise you on how exactly your email layout should look, I can provide a few tips in this regard. They’re pretty simple, but they certainly make a difference.

  • Make it mobile friendly
    You’ve probably seen this exact phrase plastered everywhere as of recently, but I can assure you it’s for a good reason. Billions and billions of web users are using mobile devices. Ideally, you should have an email format that can easily be used and read on any mobile platform.

  • Represent your brand
    Your company name and logo should be very present in your emails. It’s not necessarily for a marketing thing, but rather to let people know who you are. If people have to go out of their way to find out who you are, the email’s going to spam.

  • Optimize your email to text ratio
    Sending an email that contains just images is a big no-no. Emails like this almost never make it past the spam filter. Use a good text to image ratio.

  • Avoid spam words
    Believe it or not, there are a few spam “trigger words”. Words like toll-free, special offer, and even dear friend have been proven to get emails sent straight to spam.

  • Marketing emails must be CAN-SPAM compliant
    All marketing related emails must contain a physical address in order to be CAN-SPAM compliant.

  • Make it short and sweet
    Every email, no matter what the topic is, should be easy to read and get straight to the point. People usually don’t have the time to read long texts via email, much less want to.

Don’t get me wrong, these are just a few design tactics you can use to prevent emails going to spam. There are lots out there, and some completely depend on the current trends. But, all-in-all, these few should help dramatically.

5. You used a bad subject line

The very first impression people get about your email content is through the subject line. If it’s misleading in any way, people will get annoyed.

It is vital that your subject line is something that people will click on, but not click bait. It should contain only what the email is about and nothing else.

The subject line depends completely on the content of the email and the brand, but it is incredibly important that you get it right. The best advice anyone can give you here is to conduct some A/B testing and find out what works best for you. Otherwise, your email’s going to spam.

6. Low engagement rates

Amazingly, a lot of email filters can detect if customers are engaging with your emails. If they don’t open them often, or not often enough, the email service provider may filter it into the spam folder.

The best and really only way to prevent this and get emails sent back into a normal inbox is to track reader engagement yourself, and stop sending emails to people who don’t open your emails. Again, this is a great reason to use DataValidation.


With DataValidation, you can find out who’s active and who isn’t. Validating emails is probably the easiest and most effective way to prevent emails from going to spam. All you really have to do is upload your email list, find the active subscribers, and send emails only to them.

Not only will this help the inbox placement rate, but it will help with the bounce rate and open rate, too. It really is the ultimate tool for anyone in email marketing.

Wrapping up

Well, that about wraps it up for us today. If you’re having issues with your emails going to spam, then definitely take a look over this article a few times, and make sure you’re doing all these things correctly.

As spam filters continue to get better and more precise, it’s more important now than it’s ever been to make sure your emails are on point and delivered with purpose. If not, then your emails going to spam is practically inevitable.

But, we definitely don’t want to end on a negative note. Instead, we’ll end on an encouraging one. All of these tips are incredibly easy to put into action. It may take some testing, trial and error, and a bit of extra time, but it’s so worth it in the end.