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Asked a question 3 years ago

Why are my emails going into recipients spam folders? How do I increase my primary inbox delivery rate?

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Carly Ashby
Demand Generation Expert


The primary strategy to get out of the spam folder is by increasing subscriber engagement. The other possible reasons may be:

  • Sending emails without permission
  • Poor IP reputation
  • Forgettable branding
  • Emailing inactive users
  • Use of misleading subject line
  • Omission of a physical address
  • Sending emails without an ‘unsubscribe’ option
  • Using words that trigger spam filters

You can increase your primary inbox delivery rate by:

  • Increasing subscriber's engagement.
  • Making your brand memorable.
  • Requesting readers to white-list you
  • Educating your subscribers

Spam filters are frequently updated to ensure that they are backed with the latest techniques. A large number of Internet Service Providers are formulating stringent policies to crackdown on spam. Different servers have different algorithms which may lead to your email being flagged as spam. Quite naturally, the sender is not informed about their message getting filtered in the event that they are spammers who can work around such information. However, for legitimate businesses and senders, ending in the spam folder can be quite a nuisance.

Subscriber Engagement

The key controlling factor is receiver engagement. A large number of email service providers depend on reader engagement to target spam. This basically means that if you are to send engaging content that the recipients are opening or reading, you have a greater chance of making it to the inbox. Additionally, reader response and behavior is yet another component that may land you in a good spot. If they not only click open your website but also click on the content or redirect to your main site, it simply conveys that they are more interested in the stuff that you send.

On the other hand, dull and boring messages often receive little to none engagement and are more likely to get blocked. Furthermore, even if one recipient marks your email as spam, chances are that it will end up as spam in other receivers’ mailboxes too.

Other reasons why your emails are ending up in the spam folder:

Even if you are enjoying a healthy amount of subscriber engagement, do you still find a decline in email open rates? 

Check out the list below to know what you could be doing wrong:

  • Emailing without permission: Did the receiver sign up for your mailing list or did you simply buy a database containing email IDs? If you are reaching out to receivers without them having signed up on your opt-in form, then you are most likely to end up in the spam folder. 
  • Bad IP address reputation: Remember that saying about a single rotten apple? Similarly, if you are making use of a shared IP address and someone else is using that to spread spam, then also you may get blacklisted. Use a reliable email service provider to avoid such a situation. 
  • Forgettable Branding: There may be instances when your readers sign up on your mailing list for updates but completely forget about your organization in no time. As a result, they may mark your communications as spam. 
  • Inactive Users: It is extremely important to keep your mailing list clean. Email service providers often go over your mail database to find a ratio or active to inactive users. If you continue mailing inactive accounts, you may get flagged as a spammer. Certain ESPs purge your database automatically.
  • Misleading Subject Line: The CAN SPAM provisions had clearly laid out that the intention of the email should be clearly reflected in the subject line. If you make use of shady or misleading subjects, you will have subscribers listing you as spam.
  • Omission of Physical Address: It is imperative that you include a valid physical address in all your communications. From large corporations to small businesses, everyone is legally bound to furnish their complete address right down to the zip code.
  • Emails Without ‘Unsubscribe’ Option: This is yet another direction given in the CAN SPAM Act that you should not try to get away with. Give your subscribers a link to opt out from their mailing list and act immediately on this request.
  • Use of Spam Language: You understand that your business is legitimate, but making use of spam language is not going to help your cause. Avoid using words that may appear like click bait. Phrases or words such as ‘Click Here,’ ‘Congratulations,’ ‘Great Offer,’ ‘Urgent’, and so on trigger the spam filters to redirect you to the spam folder.

Tips to Increase Primary Inbox Delivery Rate

Now that you know what could potentially be wrong, following are a few ways to fix it:

Increase Engagement - Start by fixing the core foundation of your problem, address the low engagement. To combat low open or read rates, formulate an effective campaign to send emails with an eye-grabbing subject at an appropriate time. Keep your list updated and use a targeted approach to appeal to a willing audience.

Most importantly, put in effort in drafting your email copies.

Make Your Emails Stand Out - While dealing with audiences who have forgotten to sign up, the best thing you could do in such situations is give them something to remember. It could be fun and out-of-the-box emails that carry your logo. Try and include engaging media content to keep them hooked.

Offer a quick and easy way to unsubscribe from your mailing list in case they wish to opt out. Remember, it is better to drop their details than getting marked as spam.

Request Your Readers to White-list You - When a reader signs up on your website, request them to white-list you in your welcome email. If your readers whitelist you, not only will you be sure that they are indeed receiving your emails, but it will also increase your sender reputation. In due time, it will increase your primary email deliverability to a large number of mailbox users. 

Educate Your Subscribers - Those who are interested to read your emails may find it difficult to locate it if mailboxes keep moving you to various categories such as ‘Promotions’ or ‘Social.’ In such a case, teach your readers to drag your emails under the Primary tab. Furthermore, you can even give user-friendly instructions to the subscribers to organize the emails that they receive. Creating a dedicated folder for your emails will greatly increase the reader engagement considerably.

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