Why Your Messages Are Landing in the Spam Folder

I recently sent a work-related email to a colleague with some time sensitive information in it. Not being in email marketing mode, I included the words “time sensitive” in the subject line and hit send. Several days later when I hadn’t heard back, I called him to see if he had received my message. He hadn’t. After a little digging, he found it—yep—in the spam folder.

Deliverability is a serious issue for brands, not just because legitimate messages get siphoned out of the inbox and into the spam folder, but also because your sender reputation is at stake.

What Happens When Someone Marks Your Email as Spam?
When a subscriber marks your email as spam, his ISP will block future messages from you. Your email service provider will also keep track of this information, making it possible for ISPs to make judgments about future emails you send to other recipients. Every time someone hits the spam button, it chips away at your sender reputation, making it harder for you to reach your subscribers.

Why Legitimate Emails End Up In the Spam Folder
Spam filters are all well and good for keeping out the baddies, but what about your legitimate messages? What mistakes are you making and how can you fix them?

  • You’re including questionable material in the subject line. Spammers use tactics like all caps, multiple exclamation marks, and key phrases (like my “time sensitive” email above) to get people to click.Fix: Create subject lines that communicate message content without using gimmicks.
  • You’re not communicating the right expectations to subscribers. If you send messages more often than expected or send valueless content, your subscribers will get irritated and send you careening into the spam folder.Fix: Communicate clearly what types of messages you’ll be sending and how often. Each message should include valuable content such as special offers, useful information, or sales announcements.
  • You’re using shady list-building practices. Purchased lists often include spam trap messages and closed accounts. Too many of these bounces will destroy your sender reputation. Not only that, it’s bad business practice.Fix: Use double opt-ins to build your list, ensuring that each subscriber legitimately meant to sign up and knows what to expect.

A strong sender reputation is essential for keeping your legitimate messages out of the spam folder. Focus on providing valuable content, presenting it in a reputable format, and keeping an eye on your email metrics in order to deal with potential problems before they spiral out of control.