How to Avoid the SPAM Folder

The BIG Question: How do I make sure my emails don't land in the SPAM folder.

The BIG Answer: It's complicated.

Did you hate that answer? I know. I know.

If you're new here, that's the answer to most of my questions.


Avoiding the SPAM folder is its own specialty field in email marketing. It's called Deliverability.

In other words, making sure your emails get delivered to the inbox in general and stay out of the SPAM folder.



1. You have a reputation.

Yes, a SENDER reputation. Shocker, I know. 

Like all things in this digital life, the IP address you send your emails from is tracked. 

Email clients like gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and their ilk are watching how their users are interacting with your emails. They look at Open rates. They look at SPAM complaints.

They have algorithms they are constantly adjusting to make sure the emails that end up in the Inbox are what their users want.

What that means for you: Make sure your reputation stays squeaky clean. How? By default, most Email Service Providers require you to include an unsubscribe link in the footer of your emails.

That's because:

A) It's the law.

B) You would rather have someone unsubscribe from your emails rather than mark them as SPAM. Giving them the option to opt out helps your sender reputation.


2. You're sharing a sender IP address.

Most email service providers (i.e. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.) use a common IP address to send emails from multiple accounts.

If anyone on that shared IP is not partaking in legal or ethical email practices, that can affect your emails be delivered as well.

Some email service providers have rules about who can have an account with them for that very reason.

3. Your list size is not important.

If half of your list hasn't opened any of your emails in the last 90 days, guess what? 

That's tracked.

And guess what else?

That means half of your email subscribers are lowering your engagement rate and affecting your Sender Reputation.

Why could half of your list not be opening your emails?

Well, I'm going to answer my own question with another question.

How did the opt-in to your list?

Did they actually give you consent to email them?

Consent to email someone is super super important. Again, it's law. And why would you send someone promotions to their inbox if they never asked for them? How do you know they even want them?

That's also why you will see those double opt-in emails coming to your inbox every time you sign up for emails from some brands. They want to make sure the email address you entered is a) yours and b) valid.

Sometimes people will sign others up for emails or maybe they entered a type-o in their email address.

There are a lot of strategies out there to help you improve your inbox placement.

Here are a few you can take care of RIGHT NOW to improve your chances of making it to the inbox.


1. Check out your inactive email subscribers.

 It's easy. Create a segment that you think best summarizes what engagement means to you:

  • Have they opened the last 5 emails?
  • Have they opened any emails in the last 30 days, 60 days, 90 days? 

2. Exclude your inactive email subscribers.

In your next email send, try excluding them from the send and see what happens to your engagement metrics (Open rates, click through rates, etc.)

Not happy with the results? That's fine. You can still send the email to this group separately. You might be surprised at the response you see.

3. Send from your own domain

You have a couple of options here depending on your budget.

  1.  You can either set up a custom domain that your emails are sent from. You will need a new domain address which can be a subdomain of your current web domain (i.e. You will also need an email service provider account that allows for this kind of customization. Usually, that means you have to pay for it. Worth it? Totally.
  2. Address your emails from an email address with your domain in it. I see a lot of small business owners sending from a gmail address. That's fine, but sending from an email with your domain in it is more reputable. It's super easy to get. Check out gsuite. They'll walk you through step-by-step and it's pretty cheap. You can even find promo codes online that might give you access for free for a few months.

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