Why Your Emails Go to Spam Instead of the Inbox and How to Prevent It

Alli Tunell

Why Your Emails Go to Spam


June 24, 2020

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You spent the time to craft the perfect email and then receive the dreaded response: “What email? I didn’t get your email.” How did that happen? So, you ask the next obvious question, “Did you check your spam folder?” Bingo. There it is. In this article, you’ll learn why your emails go to spam instead of inbox.

Email services are on the hunt for spammers. Unfortunately, because of this, many legitimate emails are being marked as spam.

I sat down with Conner Vickery, our Deliverability Analyst at BombBomb, to get tips on how to avoid the dreaded spam filter. Conner is responsible for maintaining our positive sending reputation as well as making sure our users are compliant with all the applicable laws and regulations.

“If you have a bad sending reputation, it is extremely hard to fix. Email deliverability is something that people need to take more seriously,” Conner explains.

Keep reading as Conner gives us the best practices to make sure your emails avoid the spam folder and catch your contact’s attention!

How to Prevent Emails From Going to Spam

1. Ask yourself – is this email timely, relevant, and expected?

Before even writing your emails, think about the list you’re sending them to. Will the email be timely to them? Meaning, is it arriving at the right time in their customer journey?

The next question you should ask yourself is if the email will be relevant. Do you know that these people are truly interested in your product or services?

Finally, and most importantly, do they expect to receive emails from you? Did they give you their email address so you specifically could contact them?

“It’s important to remember that your recipients are their Inbox provider’s customers. Ultimately, these providers are trying to please their customers. You need to consistently make sure that you’re sending emails that their customers would want. Because if you’re not, the providers are going to realize that and mark your email as spam,” Conner explains.

Once you’ve made sure your email meets these three requirements, it’s time to work on your email copy!

2. Use a thoughtful framework for your email copy [Empathy, Value, CTA]

Now that you know who you’re sending to and the message you want to get across, let’s talk through how you should format this message. At BombBomb, we use a very specific framework for all of our emails. This framework is empathy, value, and call to action.

If you follow this framework, you’ll be able to create email copy that both resonates with your users, and elicits a click. This is the ultimate goal of email deliverability. The more often your emails are opened and clicked, the less likely that your emails are being marked as spam.

Check out the example below to see an email we wrote using this framework!

example email copy

3. Think through Your Text-to-Video Ratio

If you’re sending video emails, you’ll want to read this section. While sending video emails is a great way to communicate with your clients, you never just want to send a video without accompanying text. It is imperative that you add text above and below your video to avoid the dreaded “…” functionality that mistakenly hides your videos inside your email.

Winning Sale Emails

Your supporting text for your video does not need to be long, and it definitely should not detail everything in the video. In fact, a roundup by MarketingProfs states that  “emails with just 15-50 words get 50% higher response rates than emails with more typed-out words.” Use this supporting text to complement your video, and entice your prospective viewers to take the time to watch the video!

Many emails going to spam are image-only emails. According to Constant Contact, “Image-only emails generate high spam complaints, have high bounce rates, and have a negative impact on open rates.”

Additionally, “Email clients often block image-only emails as the first line of defense against spam. The second line of defense is to route image-only emails directly to the junk or spam folder. ”

While it might be tempting to have someone create a beautifully designed email in Adobe and then paste the design into your email service provider (ESP), we encourage you to avoid this practice. Creating headers and footers is a great way to keep your branding consistent and incorporate text into your emails.

4. Make your Email as Personal as Possible

According to hundreds of marketing leaders and practitioners surveyed by Ascend2, email personalization is the most effective tactic for improving your email marketing results. Considering the best way to avoid email spam filters is by creating emails that are opened and clicked, personalizing your email sends is a great way to make that happen.

While this tactic may seem time-consuming, there are ways to personalize your sends in a quick and easy manner. For example, you can have a variable in your email copy that can change based on the group of people you’re sending it to. This could be a neighborhood name, an industry name, or even a first name.

It’s fairly easy to create multiple versions of your regular mass emails that differ slightly. For example, many of our mortgage clients create separate newsletters for their clients and referral partners. The copy and videos they create are different, but they see much better engagement from implementing this practice.

5. Be Mindful of Your Subject Line

A bad subject line with spam trigger words is a quick and easy way to have your email be sent to the junk folder. Subject lines are crucial. They are your opportunity to catch your recipient’s eye and help them decide if your email is worth their time.

There are so many tips on how to craft good subject lines. One of the most important things you can do when creating subject lines is avoiding those trigger words. Hubspot wrote an amazing article on The Ultimate List of Spam Trigger Words. Words like free, sale and discount are certainly on that list.

Another thing to remember when crafting your subject lines is to keep them short. Ideally, you should keep them under 40 characters or about five to seven words.

Subject line tips could easily be its own blog post. We do have a post specifically on real estate subject lines, but we still need to create one that is non-industry specific. Until then, we encourage you to check out this Constant Contact article on email subject lines, and what works best.

6. Don’t Use Purchased, Scraped, or Downloaded Lists

If you’re here to learn how to keep emails from going to spam and you’re using lists that are not your own. Ding, ding, ding – your spam mystery is now solved!

While this seems like a quick way to drum up some business and see results, it can have a detrimental impact on your sending reputation.

Think about it: do you like receiving unsolicited emails? Moreover, if you receive an email from a person or company you’ve never worked with before, how likely are you to read that email? How likely are you to report the email as spam? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably very likely.

You also can’t guarantee the quality of these lists. In fact, many of the contacts on these lists can be unused or inactive. Moreover, unused or inactive email addresses are often repurposed as spam traps. According to Campaign Monitor, “Spam traps are used specifically to find people using questionable lists and will cause serious damage to your sending reputation.”

The more people who ignore your emails – or worse, mark your emails as spam and report them – the more likely email providers will send all of your emails to the spam folder.

7. Always Use a Suppression List

A great way to stop yourself from having to ask the question, “Why are my emails going to spam?” is to use a suppression list.

A suppression list consists of email addresses that are opt-outs, invalids, and abuse complaints. It is necessary in order to remain compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. Most email service providers will automatically keep track of all these email addresses and add them to the suppression list, ensuring no more emails are sent to those people.

Moreover, it’s imperative to not delete your suppression list or remove users from it. Any users you delete from your suppression list may potentially be sent emails in the future, which will negatively impact your sending reputation. You should only remove users if they have contacted you and asked to continue receiving emails from you. Finally, if you ever switch ESPs, don’t forget to download the suppression list and upload it to your new provider.

8. Only Send to Your Most Engaged Users

Last but not least, is actually one of our most important tips. It’s a simple idea that can be executed really easily with the help of a good ESP. Whenever you send an email to a large list, follow that email up with an email to the people who opened and clicked your previous send. If you can send personal emails to these people, that would be even better.

Sending personal emails to engaged users is one of the best ways to make sure that your emails don’t end up in the spam folder. “If you think about your promotions folder you’ll notice it’s filled with messaging from companies that you gave your email to at some point, but you haven’t engaged with since. Inbox providers are looking at these emails and noticing a lack of engagement, the regularity of these sends, and even checking to see if multiple recipients are receiving the same message. Sending personal emails helps you remain in the prominent folder of your recipient’s inbox because it shows that you’re a real person that is just trying to provide value,” Conner explains.

We understand this isn’t always realistic, but if you implement this process into your mass sending routine, you’ll see incredible results. In doing this, you’ll increase your chances of having your emails opened and clicked. This will tell inbox providers that you’re a reliable sender.

You Made It Past the Spam Filter! Now What?

Making it past the spam filter is only the beginning. Because your recipients need to actually open your emails and engage with them to see the results you’re looking for.

Want some email tips to garner more replies? Check out these email tactics for additional guidance.

Another great way to get people to react, click, and respond to your emails is by incorporating video into your sends. And whether you’re new to video email or you’re already using it, we’ve got you covered with tips to take your strategy to the next level.

With over ten years of industry experience, we’ve learned some of the best ways to make sure your video emails get the results you’ve ever experienced. Click below to access our article:, “Increase Your Video Play Rate: Creating Videos People Want to Watch.”

ways to get your videos played

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