6 Tips to avoid the spam filter

In a perfect world, every email we send would have the perfect subject line, amazing copy, and be delivered to each of our subscribers without hassle. 

But marketers have hurdles to work through to get great results – including avoiding spam filters.

Not triggering that dreaded spam filter can be tricky. Especially because email service providers, and individual subscribers, have specific settings to help filter spam. The intention, of course, is to protect from phishing scams and other attacks. 

If you aren’t following email marketing best practices, you’re likely to end up in a spam folder.

Are your emails going to the spam box? Keep reading to find out why.

stats on spam

Source: Campaign Monitor

Why your emails aren’t making it through the spam filter

There are many reasons why your emails aren’t making it through the most common spam filters, and if you’ve noticed an increase in complaint rates or a decrease in your email deliverability, it’s time to take a detailed look at your strategy. 

You need to find out what’s triggering these filters before your sender score and your financials are affected. Unfortunately, there are nearly 180 billion spam messages sent out each day. This is frustrating for consumers and can affect a brand negatively in many ways. For instance, nonprofits lose nearly $15,000 a year in donations due to spam filters.

So, how do you avoid it? Before we cover that, it’s essential to know what triggers the filter in the first place. 

example of what triggers the spam filter

Source: Gmail

Common spam filter triggers

Unfortunately, there’s a significant list of things that can land your marketing messages where you don’t want them. This is why it’s critical to understand some of the most common triggers so you can avoid them entirely. 

Common spam filter triggers include:

  • Poor grammar and spelling

  • Asking a reader to perform a suspicious action 

  • Asking for personal information

  • Including too many links

  • Including suspicious or irrelevant attachments

  • A spammy subject line

  • Having an anonymous/unfamiliar sender name

  • Sending the same message as part of a bulk message

Again, these are only some of the most common spam filter triggers. The best way to avoid them is by following email marketing best practices

6 ways to avoid the spam filter

There are plenty of ways to help you avoid the spam filter. The following list is a starting point to improving your email marketing strategy. When combined with email marketing best practices, you should be able to avoid the dreaded abyss of spam. 

1. Start with your subject lines

As with any good email marketing tip, start with your email subject lines. A good subject line will catch your reader’s attention and entice them to open your message. But a poorly written one will either be skimmed over – or worse, trigger a spam filter. 

Subject lines written in all caps, or using exclamation points, are common spam triggers. But there are a few other words or phrases to avoid:

  • Earn per week

  • Extra income

  • Home based business

  • Make money

  • Shopper

  • Fast cash

  • F r e e

  • No fees

  • Passwords

  • Success

  • Click here

  • Form

  • Increase sales

  • Not spam 

The above list barely scrapes the surface of spam trigger words in email subject lines. 

Not sure if your subject line will come off as spammy? There’s a simple way to get started: Trust your gut. Think of it from a consumer’s point of view. 

2. Avoid embedding forms in your emails

As much as we love creating new ways to keep readers engaged in our marketing emails, including a form isn’t always a good idea – especially if you’re asking for personal information. When these sorts of forms are embedded in an email, your subscriber’s email service provider is more than likely to flag it as spam to protect their client from a phishing scam. 

Now, that’s not to say you can’t include forms in your email. However, avoid any kind of form or survey that asks for the following personal information:

  • Name

  • Email address

  • Location 

  • Payment information

  • Phone number

Instead, encourage your subscribers to give their feedback or provide information through the use of a call-to-action (CTA). 

twitch email example

Source: Really Good Emails

3. Remove Flash and JavaScript 

Both flash and JavaScript elements tend to not function correctly, thanks to individual settings from email service providers. Most rich media and/or dynamic scripts are blocked and will trigger the spam filter. So it’s best to avoid these two features altogether. 

4. Don’t include attachments

Attachments are not suitable for any email marketing message because they’re considered shady or too personal to be coming from a brand. 

Attachments are usually shared between specific individuals – that’s one reason why most email service providers flag an email with attachments. 

Another reason most email service providers filter emails with attachments is because documents are easy ways to spread malicious software.

Instead of an attachment, include a CTA linked to a landing page that allows subscribers to download directly from your site. 

Mod&Dot email example

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Avoid spam trigger words

We touched on the use of spam trigger words earlier when we discussed crafting non-spammy email subject lines. Those same trigger words should be avoided in the body of your email message as well. They can just as easily flag those filters when they’re located in the body of your email.

Again, think of your email from a consumer’s point of view. If you were to receive this message, would you mark it as spam?

6. Email list hygiene is a must

Email marketers understand how a bounced email can affect their overall deliverability rates, and that email list hygiene helps avoid these bounces. This process can also help avoid the spam filter.

When using email marketing software, you’ll be notified when your email is marked as spam. Sometimes your software will tell you who that recipient was – and if they do, you’ll want to remove that subscriber from your email list. 

If you keep sending material to someone who’s marked your email as spam, it’ll increase the chances of their email service provider marking your messages as spam, which will prevent other subscribers who use that same software from receiving your messages. 

This cycle hurts your overall deliverability rate, your sender score, and your email sender reputation as well. 

Wrap up

Sometimes avoiding the spam filter is difficult due to an email service provider’s or a subscriber’s personal settings. But you can address the issue in many ways. 

If you’re working to avoid the spam filter, remember the following tips:

  • Avoid writing subject lines with all caps and exclamation points

  • Avoid embedding forms in your email

  • Delete Flash and JavaScript elements 

  • Avoid sending emails with attachments

  • Eliminate spam trigger words in both your email subject line and the body of your message

  • Keep a clean email list by removing addresses that have bounced back multiple times

Need help avoiding the spam filter? Emma’s robust tools can help you find out what’s working in your emails and what isn’t. Schedule your live demo today.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

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