Getting Your Emails Past the Spam Filter


Every year millions of business emails sent to valid and accurate email addresses never make it to the inbox. Why is that? Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and corporate anti-spam apps evaluate every email to weed out abuses like phishing, spam, junk email, and security threats. At the same time, the spammers are getting better at crafting emails that get through these protections.

What does that mean for your legitimate email marketing?

Having an accurate recipient email address is just the beginning of your email deliverability journey. The modern marketer must also focus on their sender reputation and the content of the email being sent.

Let’s dive into both of these areas to explain how they impact email delivery and what you can do to improve your odds of reaching the inbox.

1) Monitor your reputation

The most common reason emails do not get delivered is due to the reputation of the email sender. More and more, spam filters put in place by your company, ISP, or email application, are moving towards a reputation-based system over evaluation of the content of the email, although most filters use both. When an email is identified as spam, the service or ISP or domain used to send that email gets a lower “Sender Score.” As spammers try new tricks to appear legitimate, this approach favors better blocking of bad senders while leaving the good ones alone.

What is a Sender Score? Like a credit rating, a Sender Score is an indication of the trustworthiness of an email source. The Sender Score provides information about how a sender’s reputation compares to other email senders, and how likely it is to be evaluated by spam filters. The scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100, and take into account other factors, such as complaints, blacklisting, bounce rates, volume of emails sent, number of unsubscribes, and other items.

You can check your own Sender Score here.

Many email services and apps include a capability for you to flag an email as spam or junk. You probably thought that was just a quick way to move emails to your junk folder, but it’s actually connected back to the Sender Score. Every time someone clicks that button, it counts as a negative point against that sender. You can run a complete check of issues related to your email domain at DNSStuff.

It’s a good practice to check your score often. Even email recipients who’ve opted-in to receiving your emails may tag your email as spam for various reasons, like the email content is irrelevant, or they can’t quickly assess who the sender is, or you simply email them too often.

It’s also a good idea to authenticate your email IP address. Email IP authentication verifies the identity of the entity sending email, which signals that you’re really who you say you are and adds to the legitimacy of your email marketing. There are many providers of IP authentication services, such as Microsoft Sender ID and Open SPF. More information can be found in this best practice guide from ReturnPath.

2) Optimize Your Content

Always keep your emails relevant. The best way to do that is to segment your lists and personalize your campaigns so you’re not sending unnecessary or irrelevant emails that drive recipients to mark them as spam or quickly unsubscribe.

Specific words are also triggers for spam filters. HubSpot has a great article on the “ultimate list” of spam trigger words. While phrases like “meet singles” and “fast cash” are obvious, common email marketing phrases like “increase your sales” and “free trial” can also get your emails caught in spam filters.

Be diligent about the text versions of your emails as well. Always ensure that a relevant value proposition is communicated clearly and that the layout is readable even if the recipient’s email app blocks images. Experts in email marketing and delivery include Marketo and SendGrid. Their websites have good information on best practices and tips for improving the success of your email programs.

MarketoEmail marketing guides and best practices

SendGrid Email delivery best practices

Email marketing is getting more and more difficult as recipients get inundated by more and more emails. But, by keeping track of your reputation and optimizing your email content, you can minimize the chances of your messages getting blocked.

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