Did your email land in the spam folder? Well, my friend—welcome to the exiting world of email marketing. Sooner or later it happens to everyone. Yes, even to seasoned marketers, like Jenna Kutcher, Marie Forleo, or Tony Robbins. 

Firstly, don't feel bad about it.
Secondly, learn from it, so that you can avoid it next time.

I've got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that mailbox providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo never share what exact rules they use to filter out emails as spam. So it's hard to prepare for every possible scenario. 

The good news is that there are some common reasons why this may happen. And by avoiding these you can make significant improvements 🙌🏻

Let's take a look at them.

1. Your recipients didn't opt in to get promotional emails from you

The most important rule of email marketing is to always make sure you send emails to people who opted in. You need their consent. You should never assume that they want to hear from you.

How to get consent?

You can get their consent by using language in your signup forms that is clear and transparent. If you will be adding them to your email list and sending them promotional emails, let them know. 

Take a look at below example:

Sign up to my email list and grab your copy of [name of your lead magnet].
Your information is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone. By signing up you’ll be added to my email list where I share [frequency] [topic of emails]. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Why is getting consent so important?

Think about it this way. If you send emails that your recipients did not expect, they may mark them as unwanted spam. When they do that, their email server will filter out all your future emails as well. 

The more of your recipients mark your email as unwanted spam, the more of your emails will miss the inbox. On the long run this can damage your sender reputation.

2. You have low engagement rates

Spam filters also check how much your recipients love your emails. If your audience doesn't engage with your emails in a positive way, they take it as a sign that your emails are not wanted. And next time they may not deliver them to the inbox.

What are signals of positive engagement?

Positive engagement is when they:

  • Open your emails
  • Click on links in your emails 
  • Move your email out from the spam folder 
  • Add your email address to their Contacts or Address list 
  • Reply to your email
  • Forward your email to someone else

After you send out an email in Flodesk, you can track how your recipients engage with it. 

On your Emails dashboard hover over the email card and click on View Results.
A new screen opens and you'll see something like the image below. It shows the email's performance including:

  • open rate
  • click rate
  • desktop or mobile viewing preference
  • unique opens
  • unique clicks
  • deliverability
  • unsubscribed
  • bounced
  • marked spam

The average engagement rates, open rates, click rates vary by 

  • industry, 
  • company size, 
  • geography. 

And it won’t help if you compare your business to another one in a different location and industry. When you look at statistical data like these, it's important to see them in the right context. 

You can learn about the latest email marketing benchmark figures with Q1 and Q2 2019 data here.

3. You have no unsubscribe link or it's hard to find in your email

Every promotional and marketing email has to have an unsubscribe button or link. Not just because it’s the law. If you think about it, it’s also in your best interest. You need to let your subscribers change their mind and opt out of your messages. 

The best way to do that is to make your unsubscribe link something that's easy to spot in your email. 

Why is it better to have a prominent unsubscribe link?

Because your goal should be to have a healthy, engaged email list which includes letting them go, if they feel you cannot serve them anymore.

Look at it from your subscriber's perspective. What happens if they cannot find the unsubscribe link? They may send you an angry email asking you to remove them from your list. 

But what happens even more often is that they mark your email as spam. And this can hurt the success of your future email campaigns.

4. Your subscribers mark your email as spam

When someone receives an email they don’t want or can't remember signing up for, they often mark it as spam. Especially if they couldn't find the unsubscribe button or link easily. I’m no exception: been there, done that.

If many people mark your marketing emails as spam, it will not only hurt your sender reputation, but it also means that your emails won't get delivered to the inbox. They will land in the junk folder.

The best way to avoid this is to 

If your subscribers are eager to get your emails, they won't mark it as spam.  

5. Your email design has a bad text-to-image ratio

Images play a crucial role in email marketing. With Flodesk's proprietary technology you can design beautiful emails in a breeze using Layout blocks. But don't forget about your actual text copy. 

Text based content is crucial for your email, because text can be read by all email applications. If there's a network connection problem, your images may not load at all in your recipient's inbox. So if your email is made up of only images, your readers may get a blank email without any clues what you wanted to share with them.

Also spam filters can skim through text easily. That's why more and more scammers use image heavy emails. They try to mask their fraudulent activities and avoid the text based spam filters. And you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a scammer, would you?

Does it mean that you should stop adding images to your emails? No. 

But it means your emails shouldn't be images only. 

Note: Layout blocks—even the ones that only contain text—will render as images in the final email design.

Flodesk recommends using both text blocks and layout blocks in your emails to keep things both branded and functional. And as a best practice always have more text than images in your email.

6. You are using spam trigger words

Spam filters not only analyze your email subject lines but also the body of the email. Sometimes these words seem harmless. But as they have been often misused by scammers and in phishing emails, they can alarm the spam filters. 

Automational released a list of 470+ keywords that could raise the spam filter alarm. Review this list and try to avoid those words and phrases in your email campaigns. 

There are also free tools that can test the spammyness of your emails before sending it to your whole audience. 

For example, Mail-Tester checks your email and gives it a score on a scale of 10. They tell you what’s good and where you could improve. 

You can also send a test email to yourself from within the Flodesk email editor.  

  • Click on the paper plane icon in the upper left area of the screen.
  • Add a subject line.
  • Add your email address as recipient.
  • Click on Send test now.

If the test email lands in your own spam folder, that's a sign that you need to change your design or email copy.

7. You are sending your marketing emails from a freemail address

Emails sent from free Yahoo, iCloud, me.com, bellsouth.net, Hotmail, and even Gmail addresses have a much higher chance of being flagged as spam than a custom domain, such as you@yourdomain.com

Why? Because scammers often use such free email services. They can easily set them up and can remain anonymous.

When you buy your website's domain and domain email address, it gets officially registered for you. It establishes you as a trustworthy, legitimate business. So if you're serious about email this is your best bet. It looks more professional, too!

As an additional important step make sure to authenticate your sending domain email address. You can read about how to authenticate your domain via DKIM here.
Once your domain is verified, it's a further signal that you’re not impersonating anyone else when sending marketing emails from that domain. This boosts your sender reputation and positively influences deliverability of your email campaigns.

Let's sum it up!

If every now and then one or two of your emails land in the spam folder it's nothing to be worried about. It happens with the best of us!

Also, mailbox providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo never share what exact rules they use to filter out emails as spam, so you won't be able to prepare for everything. There are however some common reasons why spam filters may put an email to the junk folder—we collected them in this article for your convenience.

More to learn:

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