Email Marketing Tips to Stay Out of Your Customers’ Spam Folder


Email lists and loyal subscribers can be a wonderful facet of any business’s marketing strategy. More and more, consumers want the inside scoop on the products and services they are choosing to work with. But when you emails, and thus information, is lost in the deep, dark depths of your customers’ span folder, you’ll never know it and they may not be returning customers. How can you as an entrepreneur make sure your hard work pays off and gets to all your subscribers? The eight tips below will guarantee your eNewsletter is a success for each recipient.

Yield to the CAN-SPAM Act
Believe it or not, there is a law about the spamy messages sent over the internet. Its seven parts are very straight forward, and not abiding by them can land you with up to $16,000 in fines! This Act states that if you send, “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” then you:
1. Don’t use false or deceptive header information
2. Don’t use misleading subject lines
3. Distinguish the message as an ad
4. Inform recipients where you’re located
5. Inform recipients how to opt-out of receiving future emails from you
6. Must respond to opt-out requests promptly
7. Observe and be aware of what others are doing on your behalf

Your routing information is also important, so keep this in mind. The CAN-SPAM Act also segways into some of our other tips, such as the bonus of offering opt-outs rather than being repeatedly flagged as Spam by uninterested recipients. (See “Keep Email List Current” below.)

Make both HTML and Plain Text Versions of Emails available
Though more and more computers are able to handle HTML versions of email, there are still older computers and systems that can only read text versions of your email. Thankfully, making both versions is relatively easy and makes avoiding the spam filter a cinch. Make sure to create a link that presents the plain text in the fancier emails just in case a customer would prefer the message without the bells and whistles.

Garner Clients’ Permission
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s much easier to avoid spam traps and repeated spam flagging if you only send your marketing emails to customers that have subscribed to them. Spam traps are email addresses that have been flagged by ISPs as compromised or hacked accounts. If you are sending an email to these types of addresses, they assume the person didn’t opt-in and you are spamming random emails. These accounts are a good reason to avoid buying lists from email brokers.

Also, be sure to ask subscribers to add your marketing email to their address book. When they do this, you will have a guaranteed message sitting in their inboxes, awaiting their business.

Balance Email Text and Images
Though it’s easy to think that pictures are worth a thousand words, in this case graphics can hinder your ability to reach your customer base. Avoid using images if you can, and do not ever send image only emails. This not only turns off recipients, but it also looks fishy to servers. Optimizing images and using properly created HTML also helps keep your emails out of the spam folder. For every graphic, try to have 2-3 lines of text. This ratio will not only appeal to your potential customers, but also keep the email concise and give enough information for your readers.

Resist Sending Large Attachments of Specific Types
Attachments are a bad idea in general for any kind of marketing email. Not only is it inconvenient for recipients to download something to understand your message, but with all the viruses and online predators out there, readers don’t trust attachments at all. If you must attach something, use .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf files. They are safer and more reliable for your potential customers and with the right context within your email, customers would be more inclined to check them out.

However, .exe, .zip, .swf type attachments are a big no-no. These executable attachments are a major red flag for most computer users. Some internet security programs won’t even let them download without permission, and you can be sure spam filters are going to weed them out. If an attachment is important but may redirect your message straight to spam, we recommend using a service such as dropbox or google documents, or your company’s secure server, to share them with your recipients.

Keep Email List Current
Sending an email to old addresses will certainly land your message in the junk folder. We mentioned above that being repeatedly flagged is a problem. When recipients flag you over and over, eventually their server will regard you as spam and spam only. You won’t make it back to their inbox ever again. It’s all too easy for them to check a box then it is to search out your opt-out link and follow its instructions. Not only will that person stop getting your emails, but the server will resist any messages you send to anyone on it. This includes new customers. See where we’re going with this? If you can’t reach new customers because the old ones are no longer interested, your campaign has been assassinated.

How do we avoid this spam disaster? It’s really simple. Just keep up on your list. Take the time every couple of months to weed out any subscribers that haven’t responded to any of your emails. If you want to take a promotional approach, offer those past customers an incentive to open your emails rather than flag them. An appealing, but honest, subject line should do the trick.

Avoid Trigger Spam Filter Words or Phrases
Have you ever scrolled through your own emails and systematically checked a bunch of them to delete them without opening? Spam filters will do the same thing you have by taking note of keep phrases or words that usually lead to phony content. It’s hard to pinpoint or condense all the words the filters may consider, but there are a few for you to take note of as you create your email masterpiece. Keep in mind, spam filters are searching for commercial advertisements, so those types of catchphrases are going to get tossed aside. Avoid these or any similar ones:

  • Free
  • Opportunity
  • Subscribe
  • Bonus
  • Discount
  • Winner
  • Prizes
  • Lottery
  • Information you requested
  • Great offer/deal
  • Amazing
  • Bank account number
  • Personal information
  • Coupon
  • Percentage symbol

Utilize Spam Checkers before Sending
In addition to being aware of your content in marketing emails, you can take a couple pre-steps to make sure your emails make it to the intended party. One way to do that is to run your emails through a spam checking service. One free downloadable tool or Windows is It utilizes SpamAssassin to check your message. If you’d rather not download any software, offers a place to send your message ahead of time. They check it over for the items we mentioned above, as well as check for email deliverability. It may be worth the few extra precautions to make sure you don’t end up in anyone’s spam folder.

Stay Off Blacklists
Another way to preplan for successful email delivery is to double check that your email server isn’t already branded as malignant. Some servers already sit on a black list, and once that is the case you’ll find it very difficult to reliably send any emails.

Free Email Blacklist Lookup, Email Blacklist Check, and Spam Database Lookup all grant free checks on your server. If their research lands you in the wrong category, they designate steps to follow up with websites that have placed you on the blacklist so you can resolve the issues and get your marketing campaign back on track.

With these eight tips, we’re sure you will have nothing but success in gathering and maintaining subscribers eager to read and respond to your marketing emails. Do you have any more suggestions to share? Please do in the comments below!

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  • […] contenders. Once you’ve chosen the perfect fit for your needs, check out our posts on how to avoid ending up in your customers spam folder and how to increase your email open rates. We also have plans for a post on turning your website or […]

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