Stop emails going to spam with these 15 suggestions

15 ways to stop emails going to spam

There's nothing more frustrating than your emails going to spam. It's a waste of your time and could be hurting your business. These simple steps will help reduce the risks and get your important messages opened.


15 ways to stop emails going to spam


If there’s one thing your email marketing needs, it’s to stay out of the spam folder. No doubt you’re putting in both sweat equity and money to grow your mailing list the right way. So it hurts when you find your open rates are waning.

It’s possible your readers aren't particularly engaged with your content. But your emails could be going to the spam folder without the subscriber seeing them in the first place.

From the first moment you add someone to your list, make sure you are following the very best practices. You want to keep them engaged and enjoying your content. To do that, follow these tips and stop emails going to spam.

1. Add a double opt-in

It’s tempting to chase quantity when it comes to building your email list. But quality is so much better.

If you want to stop emails going to spam, one way of achieving this is with a double opt-in. When a new subscriber joins, your first email asks them to confirm they want to be on the list. If they don't do this, you don't send them anything further.

Yes, you will lose some people.

But those that agree are demonstrating genuine interest. Which will keep your engagement and deliverability rates high.


2. Clean up if you want to stop your emails going to spam

Some people unsubscribe when they don't want to receive your content. Others ignore your emails and delete them.

The danger with the later is that they lower email engagement rate. And the email providers consider this to be important. If too many people stop opening your emails, you might be penalized you with engaged readers as well.

Cleaning out your email list is a good way to reduce this risk. And it will save you money. Why pay for people who don't read?

Your email service provider should allow you to search through your contacts to identify those who haven't opened an email. If you can enter a timeframe even better.

If someone hasn’t opened your emails for say, six months, send them a last chance opportunity to stay on the list. And if they don’t respond, clear them out.


3. Track your email engagement metrics and optimize

Monitoring email metrics is the only way to know if your strategy is working. And it’s the best way to identify dangers before they get too serious.

You should always be looking at spam complaints, open rates and click-through rates.

If you want to stop emails going to spam, when you spot a negative trend, act straight away to address the problem.


4. Ask new subscribers to keep you in their inbox

When someone signs up to any opt-in offer on your website, you should display a thank you page. And this thank you page should provide tips on how to make sure they actually receive your content.

For Gmail users, you need to ask them to ensure your email isn’t in their promotions folder. And if it is, tell them to drag it into the primary folder.

You can also ask subscribers to whitelist your email by adding it to their contacts or address book. Give them instructions on how to do this for major services like Gmail. Not everyone will follow your instructions, but even a few is better than none.


5. Encourage subscribes to respond to your emails

One way of sending a message to an ISP that you are important to their customer is by getting them to respond to an email. That sends a clear signal that the email was welcome and important.

When someone signs up to your list, encourage them to reply to receive a bonus.

H​ere are some ideas on content upgrades or freebies yo​​​​u can create for this ​purpose.

You can also do this in your newsletter by asking people to reply with their feedback.


6. Drip send you emails

Do you have a big mailing list? When you send an email to everyone, servers like Gmail get a lot of traffic from you at one time.

If you find your open rate decreasing, try breaking up your list into smaller groups. Then you can space out the send times.


7. Watch what you say

Good email service providers include a spam check. It's important to pay attention to the results. Always remove anything flagged as a risk.

If you want to stay out of the spam folder avoid things like:

  • One large image
  • Large email size
  • Too many images and too little text
  • Linking to sites that may not be credible
  • Over use of spammy language like free, make money, buy and the like


8. Never buy a list if you want to stay out of the spam folder

It’s tempting to grow your list fast this way, but the risks are huge. Purchased lists can be reputable. But you're unlikely to find out you’ve picked a bad one until something goes wrong.


9. Always use a reliable and trustworthy email service provider

You will need to pay for a good service. But that investment will be tiny compared to what it could cost you for using a dodgy service. Or worse still, trying to send out your emails via your own email program.


10. Avoid clickbait

Clever subject lines are all the rage. But the same rule applies here as with any other headline. It’s ok to be clever. It’s not ok to promise one thing and deliver something else altogether.

When you mislead people, you break their trust and they are more likely to unsubscribe. The more people that unsubscribe, the more likely you are to have your emails going to spam with that ISP.


11. Who you are matters if you don't want your emails going to spam

All emails you send will have a display name and email address. These should look authentic.

Avoid things like ‘noreplay@domain.com’. It’s actually a good thing to get replies anyway. Use things like ‘contact’, ‘support’, ‘newsletter’. And I prefer to actually put my first name in the sender field so the email looks like it’s from a real person.

Also add in your website or company name. This provides the recipient with context as they may not recognize you by first name alone.


12. Stay in touch

A cold email list is going to hurt you on many levels, including deliverability. Consistency is key, so reach out every week if possible.

Slow and steady not sporadic blasts is the key to building engagement. And to developing a good reputation for quality emails.


13. If you are creating HTML newsletters, follow best practices

There’s a growing trend to send text only emails because of the spam risks associated with HTML.

The downside to this is it reduces the number of metrics you receive. And, often, branded emails get higher engagement.

If you use HTML, stick with best practices, like:

  • Using a template created by a reputable email service provider
  • A width of no more than 600-800 pixels
  • Low image-to-text ratio
  • Optimized images
  • Mobile responsiveness


14. Always include an unsubscribe option

This seems obvious, and all good email service providers do this for you. And it’s the law in most countries.

No matter how much an unsubscribe stings, remember, you’d rather have that person off your list. If they are not engaging with your emails, they are putting you at risk.

You also need to include a valid physical mailing address. Again, it’s against the law in many countries not to do so.


15. Sign up for an email optimization service

If you follow these tips and still find your emails are going to spam, consider testing your content. They can test emails against major ISPs before you send them.

Litmus provides an extensive range of services for a monthly or annual fee, but you can sign up for a free seven day trial.  IsNotSpam is a more basic free option.

There are no guarantees, but if you are running out of options, it will take your efforts to the next level.


More than 2/3rds of emails sent have at least one spam related issue. It's important to follow these practices if you don't want your emails going to spam.

But every trick in the book won't help if your content isn't valuable to your readers. Always create content for people first, and optimization second. The best mailing lists are not email addresses. They are genuine relationships built on value and engagement over time.


Got questions about stopping your email going to spam? 

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One of the ways I try to cover the costs of maintaining  Digital Decluttered and offer free courses to my audience is via a small number of affiliate partnerships (with tools I genuinely use and love) where I get a small percentage commission on sales made via referral. You don't pay any more for purchasing via my affiliate links - in fact in some cases you even receive a discount. If you click one of my affiliate links, your support is greatly appreciated.

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