Prevent Your Newsletters From Being Marked As SPAM & Improve Email Deliverability


Spam has become such an issue over the last decade that not only do we have to manage our own incoming emails by marking spammy emails as spam, but we ALSO have to monitor our own outgoing email lists that we send to other people’s inboxes from getting marked/flagged as spam so that they get delivered successfully. Remember: Email marketing is all about building and maintaining successful relationships so make sure your contacts WANT to receive your emails. The occasional spam complaint should not damage your ability to send, however, a sudden spike (even if that number is small) may result in difficulties. In such cases, good email marketing service providers (like iContact) will contact you and help to examine why their campaigns are resulting in spam complaints. Others will simply close your account – no questions asked.

If you want to find out what your email deliverability rate is, just check your reports with your email marketing service provider (iContact, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.) — and I hope you are not sending mass emails through your email client as that is a NO-NO!! Sending from your own email client to more than about 50 recipients will slow down a shared server if its purpose is not meant for mass emails and will get your email address or the whole server added to a blacklist, thereby affecting your domain as well as other clients!

Generally speaking, a good range of “Open” rate is between 15% and 25% for marketing emails (enewsletters, announcements, promotions) and between 30% and 40% for transactional emails (receipts/registration/confirmation emails). So if your email deliverability is low (meaning ~75% or more emails are not getting opened) you need to follow these tips to help you improve that rate. Keep in mind, that emails not counted as “opened” in your report are either sent to spam or images simply were not enabled, so they may have read the email’s text, just not viewed the images.

  • Keep a healthy engaged email list!!! This means ONLY signup people who opt-in/want to receive your newsletters. If you buy mass email lists, don’t expect your open rates to be great! Seriously, it’s not worth it because the risks outweigh any potential rewards. Plus, it’s against some email marketing service provider’s terms and conditions.
  • Clean your lists regularly. Don’t just know who your non-openers are, do something about them. Reengage them or cut ties. This might mean changing the way you opt-in your subscribers from a single to a double opt-in strategy.
  • Abide by CAN SPAM laws! Each separate email in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $16,000 so please pay attention to this!
  • Keep your newsletters short using teasers with links to the full articles (for example, your blog). This way you can even track what people are actually interested in because of the click tracking AND it helps bring people back to your website which helps improve your SEO popularity.
  • Focus on the important news at the top!
  • Don’t overwhelm your contacts with too many emails! Once monthly or weekly is enough but of course it depends on the content and audience!
  • Use a spam checker tool to check for spammy words in your content. Use whatever tool is provided to you by your email service or try Spammy words include terms related to pharmaceuticals, making money, weight loss, and the like. If your content is legitimate but you are flagged for using words like “millions and millions” or “Viagra” in your message, there is nothing that can be done to get around that. Unfortunately, those words have been so overused by spammers that your legitimate email will simply have to be revised to reduce or eliminate the use of such words.
  • Encourage your contacts to add the “from” address to their address book or safe sender list/whitelist. You can do this on your confirmation email or webpage when your contacts first sign up for your list. More and more, ISPs rely on address books or safe sender lists to distinguish between legitimate and unsolicited email. ISPs figure that if your contact has added your “from” email address to his or her address book, they must really want your messages.
  • Include the senders name in the subject line – making it personal can help with open rates.
  • Send consistently (same day of every week or same day of every month) allowing your readers to know when to expect your next newsletter.
  • Don’t hide behind a “no-reply” email address. Make it as easy as possible for customers to engage with you if needed.
  • Share your email socially or through Forward to a Friend. Not that this will help improve your email deliverability but it is known that socially shared emails increase your reach and amplify word-of-mouth marketing (which remains one of the most powerful drivers of business in today’s digital economy).
  • Get a “responsive” (mobile-friendly) enewsletter! Since mobile devices are opening emails at a rate of 60% and increasing, you should always make that experience better for them by creating a one-column email with text and buttons that are readable on any mobile device. Read our article on Responsive, Mobile Friendy Email/Newsletter Design for more information on this and contact us if you would like a Responsive Newsletter designed and developed.
  • AND LASTLY, DON’T BE A SPAMMER!! Make your emails relevant, timely, and engaging. Don’t make it too good to be true or they may shy away from you thinking you are one-of-them!

In general, here are the key things you need to avoid so that the ISP’s spam filters don’t red flag your messages!

  • ALL CAPS in the subject line. Known spammers do it, so don’t do it.
  • ALL CAPS or BIG FONTS in the message body. Ditto above.
  • Inserting large images or too many images in your message (low text-to-image ratio). Spam readers can’t read the text in your image. If you compose your message as one giant image, a spam reader can’t tell whether you are sending legitimate content or porn — all it knows is that there’s a giant image in the message or too many images relative to the amount of text. The term you will see in the spam checker is “low text-to-image ratio.” If you are sending image-dense messages, here are some tips on dealing with this issue.

So there you have it! Goodluck with all your messaging and remember email marketing is all about building and maintaining successful relationships!!

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