10 Mistakes That Will Send You to the Spam Folder

Email Marketing Spam

No! Not the spam folder! Unfortunately, even legitimate emailers like you can find yourself facing a sudden drop in opens that means your messages have been detoured.

Watch out for these 10 mistakes that can derail even your finest mailings:

  1. Spammy subject lines

Spammy language is particularly risky in subject lines. Avoid these:

  • All caps
  • Too much punctuation!!
  • Adding a phony Fw: or Re:
  • Deceptive content (potentially illegal as well)
  1. Faulty permission

If you didn’t get compliant permission or didn’t get permission to send what you are sending, you’re in trouble.

  • Purchased list
  • Email append
  • High complaint rates
  • Sending irrelevant content
  1. Obscure From field

If your From field says noreply@… or 4396@… you might be a spammer. Frequent changes to your From address are also a red flag.

TIP: Asking new subscribers to add you to their address book goes a long way, too. (And it’s easy to do.)

  1. Mail too often/not enough

Low engagement is an indicator of unwanted mail. Sending to a long-inactive list could get you flagged. Interestingly, people can lose interest if you message them too frequently OR not enough.

TIP: Ask your subscribers for their frequency preferences.  

  1. Didn’t test

A no-brainer. If you don’t have an email service provider who tests your messages against spam filters, you will need to do this yourself using an online tool.

  1. Bad links

Presumably you don’t want to send your readers links that don’t work or links to questionable sites. Test them.

Also, if you include an affiliate link to a blacklisted URL, you will be blocked.

  1. Spammy text

Of course subject lines aren’t the only text you have to watch. In the body of your message, avoid a lot of all-caps words, bright red or green fonts, and large fonts.

You are also spam-folder-bound if you talk a lot about money, mortgages, buy now, or a money-back guarantee. (And other things I don’t want to talk about.)

TIP: You can find out if it is your content that triggered the spam filters by testing a text-only version.

  1. Missing one of these:
  • Unsubscribe link
  • Mailing address
  • Plain text option
  1. Large file size

Filters will snag messages over 100 KB. (Huge files are a pain for your mobile readers anyway.)

TIP: Images can hide spammy text, so an all-image message won’t make it. Be sure you have at least 500 characters of text(that’s not much) and use alt tags.

  1. Sloppy code

The cleaner the code the better. Streamline and simplify your code, and properly close all tags/tables. Spam triggers include:

  • Using Microsoft Word to design in html
  • Using bit.ly, goo.gl, t.com, hrefshare.com or other public URL shorteners in email
  • Using a URL in the HTML readable text that does not match the URL in the HTML code itself
  • Leaving comments in code. Spam filters can view comments as adding more text to fool Bayesian filtering.

Finally, don’t use a sketchy email service provider. ESPs that accept non-permission-based clients will eventually get all their senders blocked. Remember, if you are reported, your domain name and company name are on the list.

Fear not: If you have proper permission, clean code, and are sending relevant content, you’re well on your way to steering clear of the dreaded spam folder.