Why Your Emails Are Going to Spam

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Any company would love to have a direct way to get in front of their existing and potential customers. Marketing doesn’t typically allow this, though. Instead, brands are forced to broadcast their message in places they think their target audiences are lurking and hope for the best.

Except for email marketing.

No other channel can compare when it comes to getting a message in front of targeted users. When email marketing programs have success, they’re essentially direct conduits to engagement and conversions, and what business doesn’t have a need for that?

As simple as this sounds, many brands never reach this transformative level with their emails, and a primary reason is because many of their contacts aren’t even seeing the emails because they’re going straight to spam.

Let’s discuss the many reasons why this could be below.

Why Your Emails Are Going to Spam You Never Send Emails

Would you trust an email from a company you don’t remember? Whether you don’t have the bandwidth to produce regular content or you thought taking a hands-off approach would convey respect for your customers’ inbox, email cadence plays a role in both spam filters and user engagement.

Before committing to email as a regular marketing channel, ask yourself if you can handle regular, targeted email communications. Between creating content, sorting lists, formatting emails and all the tweaking in between, email marketing takes a lot of time to get right.

If you are about to email for the first time in a while, it’s a good idea to be transparent and acknowledge your absence. Communicating that you’ve been MIA but that regular emails about ‘x,y, and z’ can be expected will reduce a lot of the spam complaints normally caused by a cold email.

Your Subject Lines Are Misleading, Spammy—or Both

Of all the ingredients that comprise high-performing emails and campaigns, subject lines remain one of the most important things to get right. You need to incite immediate interest and curiosity while reasonably preparing emails for the message’s content. If you’re favoring clickbait over subject lines that align with what’s to come, you won’t just be triggering spam filters and annoying your contacts, but you’ll also be breaking the law.

That’s right, the CAN-SPAM Act states:

“Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.” 

Failure to comply can cost brands over $41,000 in penalties per email violation. But money aside, put yourself in your contacts’ shoes: if you felt that a subject line was deceiving, how would you feel about the brand that sent the message?

Your Emailing with a “No-Reply@” Address

While harmless from a business’ perspective, nothing good comes from sending emails from a no-reply address. They’re impersonal, hurt deliverability rates and make spam complaints more likely.

Ideally, your emails come from specific people or addresses that can be remembered and trusted. If you aspire to, or already have different types of email newsletters, then it’s a good idea to create a different sender for each one so contacts have an easier time parsing, and have an address to reply to if they want.

Aside from adding a more human element to your email marketing program, allowing contacts to reply to your email will improve your deliverability rates and spam complaints because many ISPs and people have settings to filter out no-reply@ addresses. Even if an ISP doesn’t, they most certainly have engagement filters, which brings me to the next issue.

You’re Failing to Engage Your Audience

Say an e-commerce store that sells electronics wants to drum up business through a promotion. They might think blasting the promotion to everybody on their email list is the right way to go. Casting a wider net means more potential fish to catch, right? Wrong.

Not only will you push inactive customers further away, but your general messaging won’t speak to any customer specifically. There’s no silver lining when you can’t engage your email list. According to a Return Path 2015 benchmark study, 26 percent of email campaigns see low read rates, which trigger mailbox providers’ engagement-based spam filters.

From a content perspective, the key to succeeding in email marketing is not just to offer email contacts ongoing value, but value that’s relevant to them. It’s too easy to blast a one-size-fits-all message to the masses. Doing so will portray your brand as one that doesn’t care about the specific needs of its customers. It’s also a good way to rack up steady unsubscribes each time you send an email.

Your Email List Needs Pruning

You have opt-in forms and unsubscribe buttons on every email, so it would seem that maintaining an accurate, up-to-date email list would be easy. However, it’s not just about opt-ins and unsubscribes. If many contacts don’t engage with your emails or they don’t log-in very often from that email address and you’re emailing them regularly, spam filters will start to go off. In fact, low mailbox usage is the third most-common low inbox placement, affecting 19 percent of companies.

Beyond regularly combing your list for invalid emails, it’s imperative to keep track of inactive contacts. You should aim for your email list to be full of people dying to hear from you. Why shout to deaf audiences? One effective way to cull your list is to group email contacts based on engagement rates. Gather similarly disengaged contacts and send a compelling re-engagement email saying that you’ve missed them and that you’d like to know if they want to keep hearing from you.

Your HTML Formatting Is Triggering Spam Alerts

A pain in many email marketer’s sides isn’t drafting content or brainstorming what to offer; it’s formatting the actual email. If you use a email marketing client, then HTMP templates do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. If you’re doing the coding in-house, use inline CSS after coding your various page elements. Inline CSS will ensure your emails display consistently across platforms, even if the mailbox provider strips the style out.

If you’re using images in your emails, make sure to compress them before uploading. High-resolution emails will cause emails to load slowly or possibly not display at all. And while images certainly can spark more engagement, don’t go overboard. Image-to-text ratio is a thing, and too high of one can spell problems for the readability of your email since providers like Apple and Yahoo! block images by default. You can add alt text to these images so the user can decide if they want to open the photo. Or a better long-term approach is to ask the contact to whitelist you as a trusted sender. Per Emma, header graphic width should be no more than 700 pixels and your your body images a maximum of 480.

There are plenty of other reasons why your emails may be going to spam. Sometimes, the cause is much simpler than anticipated. Maybe you’re not including your physical address in your email footer. Or perhaps you don’t have an unsubscribe link. It’s even possible that you use too many superlatives and promotional-sounding words.

Whatever the case, make sure you understand the above issues and more when it comes to email marketing best practices. If you’re not careful, your attempt at building customer rapport and driving conversions will blow up in your face.