Email Marketing

How to Avoid Email Spam Folders When Emailing Prospects

May 14, 2022
8 Minutes

Even with the emergence of various marketing methods, email marketing remains a potent tool for reaching leads and converting them into customers. However, the effectiveness is lost if emails end up in the spam folder.

In this guide, we'll explore the nature of spam and the reasons why Gmail, Outlook, and other email services might classify your emails as spam. Additionally, we'll offer strategies to bypass spam filters and enhance email engagement.

Understanding Spam and Reasons for Emails Being Marked as Spam

Spam refers to unsolicited emails sent in bulk within a short timeframe. Most email users are familiar with the "Spam" folder, where unwanted emails often end up. Email Service Providers (ESPs) utilize SPAM Blockers to shield users from these unwanted messages.

But what criteria do SPAM blockers use to identify spam? ESPs employ algorithms that assess various elements such as HTML content, images, graphics, links, and attachments.

HTML Content in Emails

HTML content can be a powerful tool in email marketing, but its use should be balanced. Emails with excessive links are likely to be flagged as spam because too many links can overwhelm the recipient and appear spammy to filters. It's more effective to focus on a single, relevant link that aligns with your email's content.

Links in Emails and Avoiding Spam Filters

Placing links in unexpected areas of your email, like within a sentence or paragraph, can trigger spam filters. A better approach is to incorporate your link in the signature area rather than the main body of the email. Also, avoid using the same link multiple times in a single email, as this increases the likelihood of being directed to the spam folder.

Use of Graphics, Images, and Videos

Overusing graphics, images, and videos in emails can also contribute to them being filtered into spam folders. Take, for instance, emails from a favorite food delivery service. Even if you've opted in for their newsletters, they often end up in the promotions tab, not the inbox, due to the heavy use of HTML and visuals. This content can push email providers to categorize these emails under promotions or spam.

Attachments in Emails

Attachments, while useful for sharing information, can be problematic in initial emails. They can raise suspicions of spam or viruses, particularly in unsolicited emails, leading recipients to mark them as spam.

Link Tracking Issues

Link tracking, used by marketers to analyze email engagement, can sometimes be flagged by spam filters as suspicious, affecting email deliverability.

Spam Trigger Words

Certain phrases and words are red flags for spam filters. Terms like “earn money fast,” “free offer,” and “amazing deal” are often associated with spam, prompting filters to act on emails containing these phrases.

Impact of Sender's Reputation

The reputation of the email sender plays a crucial role in determining whether an email reaches the primary inbox or gets relegated to the spam folder. Senders with a history of spam reports are more likely to have their emails marked as spam.

Email Authentication Protocols

Emails that fail to pass email authentication checks may also be flagged as spam. These protocols are in place to verify the sender's identity and confirm that the email hasn't been tampered with or spoofed.

Recipient Engagement Levels

If the majority of recipients consistently ignore emails from a specific sender (not opening, clicking, or replying), email providers might classify these emails as low quality. As a result, future emails may be directed to the spam or other folders.

Formatting Text in Emails

Using formatted text in emails, like colored fonts, overuse of capitalization, or excessive bolding or italicizing, can activate spam filters. This often leads to emails being automatically sorted into the spam folder instead of the inbox.

Risks of Sending Large Email Volumes

Dispatching a high number of emails, especially from a new or seldom-used account, can activate spam filters, leading to emails being blocked or redirected to the spam folder. For instance, sending 100 emails in a minute or two can raise red flags with your Email Service Provider (ESP).

While using PerfectProspect , emails are sent individually with intervals, but they can still be marked as spam if they don’t align with the specific ESP's guidelines or if the recipient tags the email as spam. PerfectProspect enables you to schedule emails at optimal times, considering these factors.

Effect of Being Marked as Spam

If a recipient marks your initial email as spam, your subsequent emails are likely to follow suit into their spam folder. Email clients and providers filter out messages deemed unsolicited or unwanted based on past user actions, like marking similar emails as spam.

Moreover, if a significant number of recipients mark your email as spam, future emails to other leads may also be affected. Email providers assess various factors, including content and sending patterns, to identify spam. If your emails resemble those previously marked as spam in content, subject lines, or sending domains, they might be flagged too.

Navigating ESP Criteria

There's no surefire way to determine if your emails meet an ESP’s criteria. Companies employ spam filters to shield their staff from irrelevant or unwanted emails, and these filters vary across organizations.

Your messages must navigate these stringent filters to reach a lead's inbox. If they fail to do so, they'll end up in the junk folder, unseen by your lead.

To mitigate this risk, it’s wise to understand the factors influencing your spam score and adhere to best practices to circumvent spam filters.

Strategies to Avoid Email Spam Filters

Understanding the reasons behind emails being marked as spam, let's now look at effective strategies to bypass spam filters.

Email Warm-Up Process

The traditional approach of warming up an email account by gradually increasing email volume and frequency has evolved. Modern email warm-up now also focuses on achieving high engagement rates. This demonstrates to inbox providers that you are a credible sender, deserving of inbox placement.

High engagement means ensuring your emails are not only opened and replied to but also marked as important and not as spam.

Automated warm-up tools are available to simplify this process. These tools simulate human email behavior, sending and interacting with emails to establish a positive sending reputation.

Personalizing Email Messages

Personalization is crucial in making your messages appear authentic to recipients, especially in large-scale campaigns. Tools like Dripify offer personalization options, making each email uniquely relevant to your leads. This approach is vital because sending identical emails to many recipients is a common spammer tactic, often flagged by email providers.

Personalize your emails by including recipients' names in the subject line and starting emails with their names. Segment your email list based on demographics, behaviors, or interests for more tailored messaging. Utilize past interactions for added personal touch.

Email marketing tools often feature personalization tags to automatically insert recipient-specific information, saving time while adding a personalized feel.

End your emails in a manner consistent with the message content and your relationship with the recipient, as this can also help in avoiding spam filters.

Guidance for Email Content Creation

Below are some useful pointers for crafting your email messages:

Minimize Links, Images, and Attachments

Minimizing the use of links, images, and attachments within your email, as well as limiting the number of links in your signature, is advisable. These elements can trigger SPAM blockers, hindering your email's delivery to the recipient's inbox. Once your email account is sufficiently warmed up, you might consider incorporating images and attachments. Until then, it's best to stick with plain text.

Opt for Plain Text Formatting

When composing your email, use straightforward text without elaborate formatting. This means avoiding styles like bold, italic, underline, or varied text colors. Keeping the text plain helps in reducing the risk of triggering spam filters.

Steering Clear of Spam-Inducing Language

When crafting emails, it's important to be mindful of certain words that could activate SPAM filters. Words or phrases that imply urgency, a sales pitch, or a giveaway should be avoided. Strive for a tone that's both professional and friendly, akin to a message you'd appreciate receiving. Be cautious with terms like:

  • "Buy," "Buy Now," or "Discount" – anything suggestive of a sales intent.
  • "Not Spam," "Open Now," or "Don't Miss Out" – phrases that convey urgency.
  • "Guaranteed," "Free," or "Free Gift" – expressions implying promotional offers or giveaways.

Email Review Practices

A good practice is to thoroughly review your email. Ask yourself if the content comes across as spammy and if it's something you'd like to find in your inbox.

Things to avoid include:

  • Using ALL CAPS in the subject line.
  • Incorporating emojis or symbols in the subject line.
  • Overusing exclamation points.
  • Embedding multimedia elements like videos, Flash, or JavaScript.
  • Attaching large files.
  • Including too many or large images.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can reduce the likelihood of your email being classified as spam.

Bypassing Spam Filters Using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are key email authentication protocols that enhance email deliverability. They do this by authenticating the sender's domain and guarding against email spoofing.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a DNS-based system that allows domain owners to define which IP addresses are permitted to send emails on their behalf. Email providers use this to confirm that the email originates from an approved source, thereby reducing spam and phishing risks.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) involves attaching a digital signature to an email's header. This signature, using cryptographic keys, ensures the email is sent from the claimed domain and remains unaltered during transmission.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a policy framework that complements SPF and DKIM. It enables domain owners to dictate how emails should be treated if they fail authentication tests. Options include instructing email providers to reject or quarantine emails that don't pass these checks, enhancing defense against spoofing and phishing.

Collectively, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC form a robust triad for authenticating email senders, minimizing spam, and protecting against email-based threats.

Incorporating the above-mentioned guidelines can significantly increase the chances of your emails reaching your leads' primary inbox.

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