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How to avoid the spam folder

Getting people onto our email list is often harder than it seems. But having got them there, we need to make sure we’re delivering that message time and time again, so we can really make an impact with our blog and with our content.


However, just because we’re sending out our emails to our list, doesn’t mean they’re getting them.


Unfortunately for some of us, our emails can end up in the spam folder, which completely negates the point of sending out the email in the first place.


Can we make sure that our emails avoid the spam folder? In short, the answer is yes, but before we can figure out how to keep them out of there, we need to understand how they end up there in the first place.


With that in mind, I’ve got five reasons why they end up there, and five ways you can avoid that folder.


First things first, If you’re using a reputable email provider, the likes of Aweber, or Mail Chimp or ConvertKit, as we use, well then, the chances are you’re going to avoid the spam folder more regularly than those who aren’t.


But just because you are using a reputable provider, doesn’t mean that you won’t end up in the spam folder.


In fact:

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Only 76% of all emails sent in the first quarter of 2016 managed to find the inbox




That means 14% of emails are still hitting the spam folder, which is a significant amount.


And of course, Gmail being one of the largest email providers, they’re very conscious of the spam folder, and they’re making sure that that spam isn’t getting into the inbox. To do this they’ve brought in measures to keep that spam where it belongs.


They came into play on the ninth of February 2016 and those measures from Gmail certainly have had an effect, in fact, the amount of emails being marked as “Spam” as has risen since they’ve introduced those.


So there are far fewer emails getting into the inbox since Gmail have put these measures into place in February 2016.


How to Avoid the Spam Folder

So what’s causing our emails to hit that spam folder? There’s a number of reasons. I’m going to run through five of them that pertain mainly to bloggers, so hopefully, you can try and avoid these mistakes and stay out of the spam house.


Low Open Rate

The first reason your email can end up in the spam folder is if you’ve got a low open rate.


If your emails aren’t being opened, Gmail or whoever the provider is seems to think that they’re spam.


That obviously, they’re not relevant, they’re not valuable to your audience, and therefore, they will start marking them as spam.


So the lower your open rate, the higher chance you have of ending up in the spam folder the next time you send out an email.


To avoid the spam folder, you need to come up with some good headlines that are going to get people opening them.


I recommend using Co-Schedule’s headline analyser. That’ll give you an idea of how good your headline is and hopefully, it’ll get your open rates to increase.


If you’ve got a low open rate, it does mean you’ve a higher chance of getting stuck in that spam folder, so you need to make sure your headlines are compelling and clickable, without being too clickbaity, because that too could also land you in the spam folder.


Low Usage


The next reason you could hit the spam folder is that you’ve got low usage. Simply put, you’re not sending out emails regularly enough.


Because you are not sending out regular updates you are going to have two problems when you do get around to sending out an email.

how to avoid the spam folder

One, you’re not sending out enough emails and the email providers know this. They feel that if there are not too many emails coming from this provider, there’s a chance this could be spam.


The second is that people forget they’re subscribed to your list. You might not be sending out enough emails or you may not have sent one in months, and people forget they subscribed and therefore assume that your email is spam and mark it as such, because they don’t remember subscribing.


So having a low usage rate not only indicates to the email provider that it could be spam but also given the fact that people don’t remember signing up, they’re reporting you as spam, because they haven’t heard from you in a long time.


So you need to be sending regular emails, which have a decent open rate to convince the email providers to keep you out of the spam folder.


Banned Click Bait Words

Another reason you could also be ending up in the spam folder has to do with the amount of clickbaity type words in your headline and body copy.


Yes, there are certain words that email providers scan for and if they appear heavily within the email headlines or indeed within the body copy, then you could be in trouble.


Words such as:

How to avoid the spam folder

  • amazing
  • cancel at any time
  • check or money order
  • click here
  • congratulations
  • dear friend
  • for only (€)
  • free or toll-free
  • great offer
  • guarantee
  • increase sales
  • order now
  • promise you
  • risk free
  • special promotion
  • this is not spam
  • winner


Words like these can get you into the spam folder. You need to make sure you don’t have those words laced within your article, in fact, I would avoid them altogether where possible.



Dirty HTML

We use plain text emails for good reason. It’s not that we’re lazy and we don’t want a nice looking email with a beautiful header. It’s actually that the HTML code can sometimes be dirty, which can end up pushing our emails into the spam folder.


Now again, if you’re using a reputable email provider, the chance are their templates have been checked and they’ll help you avoid the spam filter. But sometimes you get dirty HTML text which can push you into the spam folder, so we tend to avoid it all together.



And on a side note, most people now check their emails on their phones, and when you’re out and about, most of the images don’t load.


You end up with images that don’t load and what happens is people have named their image “screenshot May 2017″.


However,  when I open the email, I just get this horrible piece of code, something like a href=”https://screenshotmay2017/” target=”_blank” and then the email body copy. You’re kind of looking at it going, I know that should have been an image, but it just looks silly.


If you’re going to use an image like that, at least make sure you name it appropriately. Even if it just says “logo”, that’s fine. What you can also do is name the image “click here to play video”.


Then at least if the image doesn’t load, they’ll still know what to do, and it will just look like a hyperlink.


So, just bearing in mind that the HTML code in your email could have a bearing on whether or not you end in the spam folder.



Spam Email Addresses

The last one I wanted to talk to you about is one that’s also manageable.


Unfortunately, we as bloggers can end up with spammy email addresses on our list.


How many times have you seen someone subscribe where you look at the email address and you think, “Ah, that’s not a real email address?” or “That’s a bit bogey.”


It happens. It happens to us, it happens to you and it will continue to happen, unfortunately.


If you are sending out emails to your list and there are spammy email addresses on there, the email providers know this.


They can see that you’re sending emails to spammy email addresses. This is a negative score against your email address and they will grade you down and it can mean that you end up in the spam folder.


What we suggest is every quarter or every six months, go through your email list and delete these spammy email addresses.


Look at your email addresses, look at the ones that aren’t opening your emails, and get rid of them.


Is Not Spam

If you’re not sure about your email, there’s also tools out there that you can put your email into that will tell you whether or not you’ve got a high chance of ending up in the spam folder.


One of those tools is called “Is Not Spam“.


If you go to “Is Not Spam” and send your email to the address provided, it’ll give you a score on how spammy your email is and let you know whether you need to change anything.


And I do suggest if you’re not sure that you go and do that.


There are a few other things that can help you avoid the spam folder, but to be honest with most of us using the likes of Mail Chimp, Aweber or ConvertKit, they’re taken care of.


The likes of making sure you have an address at the bottom of your email, making sure that there’s a clear unsubscribe button, all of these reputable email providers will have those done for us, so I’m not going to bore you with those details.


Just remember, you want to send out emails that are going to be opened, so check your headlines and try to make them as compelling as you can with Co-Schedules headline analyser.


Send them out often and frequent, so your lists remember that you’re there and also it’s an indicator to the email providers that you’re not sending spam.


Number three is to make sure you avoid spam trigger words as I’ve listed out above.


Number four is to make sure that your HTML code is clean and not dirty. Dirty HTML code can land you in the spam folder.


And last but by no means least, clean your list. Make sure you don’t have too many spammy email addresses on there. These too could put you where you don’t want to be.


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About the author, Phil

I am passionate about great content and some what of a perfectionist, but remember, you can't edit a blank page!