Are Your Outbound Emails Going to Spam? Find and Fix Now!


When was the last time you checked your spam folder?

If you’re like most people, the answer is weeks, months — maybe even never.

Yet half of all emails sent globally end up in spam inboxes. Even emails sent from individuals and from reputable companies can get flagged as spam, meaning they’re never seen by their intended recipients.

This is a huge problem for companies that use email as a large part of their marketing strategy and can result in a huge waste of time, money, and effort.

Fortunately, it’s also a highly fixable problem.

In this article, we’ll cover the potential reasons why you’re experiencing a spam problem and 6 ways to stop emails going to spam before it truly impacts your business.

Quick Takeaways

  • The CAN-SPAM set industry standards for email marketing that must be followed to avoid emails going to spam.
  • Spam filters look for subject lines that include spammy content like excess punctuation, all capital letters, and certain words and phrases.
  • Including too many attachments or images can trigger spam flags.
  • Setting up proper email authentication shows spam filters that you are a trustworthy sender.
  • Mail Tester is a free tool that you can use to test the deliverability of your emails.

Why are your emails going to spam?

Before we dive into how to stop your emails from going to spam, let’s go over why it might be happening in the first place. When you identify the cause of your spam issue, you’re better able to take action to fix it and be sure it won’t happen again in the future.

You’re not following CAN-SPAM guidelines

The CAN-SPAM act was passed in the early 2000s to set standards for email regulation and provide guidelines for the appropriate use of email marketing. CAN-SPAM standards are easy to follow and can definitely trigger spam flagging when ignored. 

Here’s an overview of the CAN-SPAM dos and don’ts:

CAN-SPAM act guidelines for email marketers.

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Use the above checklist and take a look at your most recent emails to be sure you’re in compliance with CAN-SPAM.

You haven’t set up email authentication

Your email address needs to be authenticated in order to look trustworthy to spam filters. If you use a custom email address and/or a third-party email service, it’s possible your email is not authenticated, which could be the roof of your spam issue. You can use an email authentication service like DomainKey Identified Mail (DKIM) or Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to quickly resolve this problem.

Subject line includes spam triggers

Your subject lines should be truthful and professional. Those that attempt to mislead by posing as a personal contact or include other tricks (such as adding “Re:” to emails that aren’t actually replies) can earn you spam status and unsubscribes.

Your emails have too many images or attachments

Attachments are often used to share malware and other malicious content. If your emails have excessive attachments, they may begin to get flagged as spam. Similarly, overuse of images without enough accompanying text can make your emails appear to be spam. Be sure to never use images as a replacement for text (i.e. a single graphic with lots of text as the body of your email) — only as supporting content.

Your recipients marked you as spam

This happens to even the most reputable companies! Sometimes recipients mark emails as spam accidentally. Sometimes one poor email marketing decision can trigger a flurry of spam flags.

It’s not ideal, but if it happens, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the damage. First, investigate the source of the issue and be sure it doesn’t happen again. If you need to, you can ask your email subscribers to whitelist your email address so they’ll definitely receive your emails in the future.

6 ways to fix your spam problem

Set up proper authentication

Remember we covered email authentication in the last section? We’re mentioning it here again because it’s one of the most important steps you can take to stop emails from going to spam.

Here is a helpful step-by-step guide from Google on exactly how to do it:

Create the right subject lines

We know that misleading subject lines are a definite do not. So what specific things should you avoid? Here are a few important ones to note:

  • Excessive use of emojis (a few are okay, but overdoing it may get you flagged and annoy your audience)
  • All capital letters (YOU DON’T HAVE TO YELL!)
  • Overuse of punctuation (like tons of exclamation points, extended ellipses, or the question mark/exclamation point combo: ?!?!?!?!)
  • Certain words or phrases  that are typical of spam (example: money-related terms like “Totally Free!” or “Get cash now!”)

Use a reputable email marketing platform

You need an email marketing platform that regulates the actions of its users and maintains high standards for CAN-SPAM and email etiquette compliance. Otherwise, the poor actions of other customers (like sending intentional spam emails) can land your emails in spam if they’re sent from the same server.

Quality email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mailchimp also have built-in tools to help you craft emails that meet industry standards.

Manage your email lists effectively

Actively manage your email lists to be sure you’re targeting your content to the right audiences. When recipients receive emails that are specifically relevant to them, they’re more likely to engage and less likely to unsubscribe. Also be sure to always have permission to send and honor opt outs in a timely manner.

Identify issues with Mail Tester

Mail Tester is a free tool you can use to test the deliverability of your emails. Over time, it can help you identify mistakes you commonly make and develop emails that are sure to make it to the right inbox.

Mail Tester feedback page.

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All you have to do is:

  • Go to Mail Tester
  • Send your email to the address indicated on the page
  • Check your score and see feedback
  • Update your email for better results!

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.