Email Marketing – Avoid the SPAM Folder


How to Avoid the SPAM Folder:

Your email marketing efforts may be “for not” if you can’t avoid the spam folder of your recipient. Here are some methods we’ve found to be helpful. The best way to avoid your emails from being filtered as spam is to understand what spam is and how the filters work. Even if you are sending legal and engaging emails is good to have a understanding of the process. Keep in mind, there is no real quick fix to avoiding the spam folder.


What is Spam?

Spam at its core is an unsolicited extraneous email sent to a bulk list of people. Wiki explains email spam as “unsolicited, undesired, or illegal email messages.”

How Spam Filters Work?

Spam filters look at a long list of factors when determining whether or not an email is spam. Each offending factor is weighed and added up. If your campaign’s total “spam score” exceeds a certain threshold, then your email goes to the junk folder. These scores are not universal. So an email that passes one filter won’t pass them all. The practices for factoring the scores are never published in order to prevent spammers from abusing them. Though there are still some common mistakes you can avoid your emails going in the junk folder.

Common Mistakes

The first thing to think about is creating quality email content. The best tactic to get past filters is to produce high quality emails in order to create healthy subscriber engagement. Be mindful of the following mistakes.

Spammy Phases – Avoid spammy words and phrases like “CLICK HERE!” or “FREE! BUY NOW!” Don’t mention getting rich quick or making tons of money or getting free everything today.

Professional Formatting – Avoid using CAPS LOCK, especially in the subject line. Excessive exclamation points and wild colors, such as bright reds and greens should never be used.

Healthy Linking – Don’t send emails with 40 links and minimal text. This is a popular tactic by spammers. Keep a balanced text to link ratio.

Clean Coding – Sloppy HTML coding could land your email in the junk folder. Hire someone who knows how to code… and code well.

Balanced Images Creating an HTML email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text. Spam filters can’t read images, so they assume you’re a spammer trying to trick them.

Minding Your Email List – Sending an email to several people within the same company can come across as spam from that company’s firewall.

Not getting any action? Move on. If the people on your list have not engaged in the campaigns through opens and clicks, it’s time to remove them from your list. Subscriber engagement is a big part of getting emails into the inbox, when an ISP (internet service provider) sees low engagement rates they will often begin to send the emails to the spam folder. They will then block the domain and IP addresses used to deliver the email.

If it’s stale, throw it out. Permission generally goes stale within about 6 months, so if your subscribers haven’t heard from you within that timeframe, you’ll need to reconfirm your list.

How can you know if your emails are going in the junk folder? Look at your open rate. If your average suddenly drops you may have a spam-filter problem. High bounce back rates are another indicator. Most established ESPs now receive alerts when someone marks your emails as spam. You can then remove this person from your list.

False Abuse Reports.

You don’t have to be a spammer to get reported as spam. It is sometimes a simple mistake, like when a user clicks the spam button to unsubscribe from an email.

When people receive an email they think is spam, they can just click a button in their email program to label it as such. An abuse report is then often sent to the recipient’s email program or ISP. If enough of these are received, a warning message will be sent to the sender. If complaints continue within a specific timeframe, all email from that IP address of the sending server is blocked temporarily.

Common Mistakes

So why would your legitimate emails get reported as spam? It can be a simply mistake or it could be your own fault.

Taking Too Long – Even if your list was generated legitimately (e.g. opt-in forms) if you take too long to send out a campaign the subscriber could forget they opted-in.

Using Non-Opt in Emails – If you have a list of emails from a non opt-in source, (e.g. customers who have bought your products, trade show attendees, business cards, or purchased email lists) avoid using the addresses before asking them if they’re cool with being on your list. You need to ask them to join the email marketing list before sending out offers. Just remember the biggest factor is permission.

Hiding the Unsubscribe Button – The unsubscribe button should be prominent. If they can’t find it people may mark your email as spam. Some even will place the button at the top so it is easy to find.

Unprofessional Design – If your emails look cheap or unprofessional, you can come across like a spammer. It needs to show that you are reputable company. No one will trust an unsubscribe button if it looks like you are “phishing.”


“Example of a professional looking email designed by Digital Canvas. See more examples of our email marketing campaigns in our portfolio.”

Set Expectations – If subscribers expect a monthly newsletter then you also start sending weekly offers, they will most likely mark them as spam. You can set up different lists for each frequency of email to keep them separate.

Email Firewalls.

Before an email even gets to the spam filters it first has to pass through a firewall. Firewalls are used by ISPs, large corporations, and small businesses alike, and they all communicate with each other to help identify spam and spammers.

If a firewall thinks your email is spam, it will shoot it back into no-mans-land and the recipient’s spam filter won’t even see it. It won’t even let anybody know what went on and won’t appear on a bounce back report.

But how does a server know what spam is? Your recipients teach it. When you send an email to your list, and if someone on your list thinks it’s spam (doesn’t remember opting-in to your list or if you never had permission in the first place) that recipient can report you to SenderBase, the world’s largest email monitoring network. If you get enough spam reports, SenderBase will send your data to all the firewall servers around the world, letting everyone know you’re a spammer.

All firewalls rely on reputation scores to block emails before they even get to spam filters. They all add up sending reputation differently. You can make sure your reputation is good by sending clean emails to clean lists. You can’t switch to a new email server, once you get reported, your company’s name and domain name are on the lists. All emails with your name in them, from now on, will be blocked.

If you make an effort to avoid these mistakes, you’ll likely avoid the spam folder. Your emails will be less likely to be deemed as junk and your email marketing campaign will be MUCH more effective.

Contact us at Digital Canvas today… we’d love to help in the creation (or facelift) of your email marketing campaign.

The Advantages of Email Marketing


Email marketing erases traditional borders.


Email is way to reach out to potential and existing customers in a very targeted way. People spend more and more time online and the ROI of email marketing is something that should not be passed up. Below are a few reasons you should take advantaged of email marketing.

Global Demographics
An email marketing campaign can reach as far as an advertiser wants. You need to identify who you like to reach and where they are located. Once the structure and content of your marketing campaign is structured, highly targeted emails have the most positive responses. Your company’s reach is restricted only by your ability to conceive appropriate targets.

Traditional time restrictions do not affect email marketing. Direct mail campaigns take time to go through the postal service. While email promotions generate immediate responses. In the short time it takes an email to arrive and for a reader to consume the information, you have increased awareness, paved the way for more information and promoted your brand. Take a newsletter, if you offer discounts for travel packages, include a link to your travel site. Customers can then respond instantly by either requesting more information or by booking a package.

Email marketing can help engage your readers. They can include graphics, surveys, call to actions, etc. All of these can help potential clients interact with you company of product. They draw interest and command attention. Adding opt-in/out opportunities for increased interaction.

Email marketing can allow you access to greater numbers of potential customers. Building a marketing platform within an email client help you grow a contact list. As well as, giving your recipients an incentive to spread the word of you campaign can help spread your content into new territory.


Be sure to check out examples of email marketing campaigns we have done at Digital Canvas. Or check out the services we can provide.

 Some Content adapted from “The Advantages of Email Marketing” by Alyson Paige, Demand Media