Why are my emails going to spam? We have been replying to this question for years now. There are many factors that can cause spam but here are the ones responsible of 90% of it. And, of course, we give you no bullshit solutions to fix that ASAP.
Since two years, MailReach has gathered and analyzed the data of dozens of thousands of deliverability tests.
Combined with our experience, we can now list the most frequent causes of landing in spam.
These causes are related to authentication, email content, your way of sending your emails, your sending reputation.
At the end of the article, we list the best solutions to help you land back in inbox instead of spam.
Not having the SPF and DKIM records properly set up in your DNS zone can make you land in spam. We see that happen every day.
We know it’s boring…
But you need to set those up properly to avoid authentication problems that can lead to landing in spam.
DMARC is not a game changer for now but we recommend you to set it up as well.
It takes 5 minutes. Just do it.
You’ll see that in the “Solutions” part below. MailReach’s free spam test will help you know if you’re properly authenticated.
Today, and much more than before, the major inbox providers (Google and Microsoft) use engagement as a factor to filter your emails.
That’s simple, when sending emails, if you don’t receive enough positive interactions (openings, clicks, replies, emails marked as important, removed from spam), then you will land more and more in spam.
Why? Because engagement is an effective way for the big providers to score your activity.
An interesting email sender receives many positive interactions.
An uninteresting email sender does not receive much positive interactions. Result? Let’s put his emails into spam.
We’ll cover how to fix that in the solutions below.
Why are my emails going to spam? Because of attachments.
Sending attachments is associated to phishing and hacking.
For a couple 1-to-1 emails to people you know it can be fine. But never in bulk and especially to people you never contacted.
If you want to share a document, you can use a tool like DocSend that allows you to send a link to your doc.
Using URLs shorteners such as Bitly links in emails makes you land in spam. That’s just bad.
Why? Because it’s used by spammers to hide links.
Avoid using URL shorteners at all costs, that’s a true deliverability killer.
First, there are very sensitive topics where spam words are omnipresent.
Earning money, saving money, money in general (discounts, salary, etc), health, medication, weight loss, diets, games, sex, and many more.
If you talk about any of these topics, your risk of landing in spam because of spam words is much higher.
BUT, there are many unsuspected words that you wouldn't expect.
Spam words are not always the ones you think. Now, the inbox providers / spam filters use machine learning to identify spam words.
Now, any word can be a spam word.
For example, let’s say that tomorrow, nasty spammers start sending massive spam containing the word “Yoga” and a lot of people report their emails as spam. “Yoga” can then become a spam word because spam filters / algorithms have associated this word to spam. Understand?
Eliminate any aggressive punctuation from your emails. In the subject line and in the body.
Typically, avoid the “!!!“ like “That’s the best offer of your life!!!!”
Also, make sure to avoid WRITING LIKE THIS, LOL.
When you use an email automation tool for your campaigns, by default, a tracking pixel is automatically inserted in each of your emails.
This tracking pixel is always associated to an URL / a domain and that what allows you to know and monitor your opening and click rate.
By default, the tracking domain added in your email is the same as the other users of your email automation tool. And that’s the problem.
That means you send emails that contain the same tracking domain as other customers of your email automation tool. In other words, you’re sharing a domain / URL with a lot of other people and businesses using this tool.
The problem is this : if you don’t set up your own custom tracking domain, your emails will be associated to all the customers of your sending tool who did not set up their own custom tracking domain.
If you use an email automation tool, set up a custom tracking domain. That’s mandatory to have a good email deliverability.
If your sending tool doesn’t allow it, change it.
This is crucial.
If there isn’t a clear unsubscribe link in your email then you get much more spam complaints, that’s mathematical.
And no, saying “to unsubscribe, reply unsubscribe to this email” does not help. Most people don’t care about replying to your email, they just click on “mark as spam” and ciao.
No clear unsubscribe link = more spam complaints = damaged reputation = you miss customers = you lose money.
There’s no scenario in which not including an unsubscribe link is better for your results.
“But it looks less human if you have one”. NO, you can send 1-1 emails and have an unsubscribe link. That’s just respect and UX for the recipient.
We’ve compared campaign results between having an unsubscribe link VS not having one and there’s no major difference in terms of leads.
In the long run it even generates more sales as you’ll land more often in inbox.
We see that every day at MailReach. A lot of people and companies land in spam because they just send too many emails.
One of the golden rules of deliverability is to have the most human behavior.
The behavior of an interesting person who sends emails and gets a lot of engagement (emails opened, replied, marked as important and removed from spam).
For a cold emailing activity :
150 cold emails daily per sending address and domain should be the maximum to maintain a good cold email deliverability. The fewer the better. If you can send 100, do it.
Why per sending address AND domain?
Because if you have several sending addresses per domain, if one get flagged as spam, it will spread on all the other ones, it's just a matter time as the reputation is shared on the domain level.
By having only one sending address per domain, you minimize the volume of emails sent on the domain level (which is better for your engagement rate / reputation / deliverability), and you minimize the risk of spam spreading between your addresses
And If you exceed 150/200 cold emails daily per sending address, the risk of having spam issues is much higher.
For an opt-in emailing activity :
If you send emails to an opt-in list / newsletters, you can send a higher number of emails per day per domain.
But you still need to have a high engagement rate (positive interactions such as opening, emails replied, having your emails marked as important and removed from spam).
First, you may link to a website that looks spammy in some way to spam filters.
For example, if the URL is broken, if the website is not https / protected by a SSL certificate, or if it’s infected by a malware or for some other reason.
The site may be totally legitimate, but could very close to another domain that is spammy.
Secondly, if the destination URL does not match the display URL, it may cause spam.
Let’s say the display URL is https://xyz.com but the actual link is https://anotherwebsite.com, you may run into problems as this is a common tactic used by spammers to trick people into clicking on links.
That’s the same thing for URL shorteners (we mention it below).
The major inbox providers, Google and Microsoft can easily find out where your email comes from.
They can know what you’re using to send your emails. They can identify your email provider.
And the way you send your emails is very very important.
Because some inbox providers / SMTP providers are more associated to spam than others.
From our data, we can tell that sending from a Google Workspace inbox (Professional Gmail) is the best in terms of deliverability.
Professional Outlook (Office 365 / Exchange) comes in second position.
On the other hand, sending from a Custom SMTP is the worst to land in inbox. Because it’s too exotic and this is the #1 setup used by spammers to send spam.
If you want to land in inbox, choose the most human way of sending emails.
And guess what, to send cold emails the most human way to send an email is to use Gmail (Professional for B2B) or Exchange / Office 365.
If you don't send cold emails but opt-in / promotional / transactional emails, choose well known providers such as Sendinblue.
This one is often linked to the “You have a low engagement rate on your emails.”
If your domain’s reputation and/or your IP reputation is damaged, you’ll suffer from landing in spam.
Remember the following :
Good deliverability = good sending reputation (IP, domain) + not spammy email content + not spammy sending setup.
You need to combine the 3 to land in inbox.
Most of the time, a sending reputation can be damaged because of the previous email activity of your domain and/or your IP.
If you have sent many email campaigns in the past and had very low engagement rates on these campaigns, your sending reputation is very likely to be damaged which results in having your emails landing in spam.
The solution consists in generating more engagement on your domain and sending IPs.
We’ll cover that in the solutions below.
After analyzing dozens of thousands of emails, we decided to develop a powerful email spam test to help measure your inbox placement and identify the potential problems in your emails.
This test is free to use and doesn’t require any account for up to 3 tests per 24 hours, enjoy!
You simply have to copy / paste a code inside your email and then send it to a list of 31 addresses.
Make sure to run your test under the same sending conditions as when you found out you land in spam. Otherwise, the test will be biased.
MailReach will then tell you where your email landed with a score out of 10 with several checks and recommendations to improve your score.
It’s very important to measure your deliverability before trying to fix anything. You can’t improve what you don’t measure!
You have done your first spam test and got your score. Now, you know how you’re doing and where your email land on the major inbox providers.
Make sure to check the tabs “Content” and “Setup” to see if MailReach detected potential issues or things to consider.
If there are things to improve, make the changes to your email and/or sending setup and then run a new test to see if you manage to get a better score.
If don’t manage to reach 10/10 and MailReach doesn’t give you anything to improve, it can be a strong indicator that you have a reputation issue.
See below for the next steps.
If you’ve done all the improvements suggested by MailReach using the Spam Checker and you still land in spam on the inbox provider you target, then it may be a sign you need to raise your sending reputation.
Raising your reputation can be done by generating engagement on your email activity.
You have two ways to generate more engagement.
The 100% natural way
1. Send emails to your most engaged recipients.
2. Get better at writing emails to better engage your recipients and receive more positive interactions to your emails.
The smart, automated way
Use MailReach, the smartest email warming service to generate meaningful engagement to your emails and land more in inbox.
The mission of an email warmer like MailReach is to generate engagement with your inbox and domain to raise your sending reputation and in turn, your deliverability.
You simply have to connect your inbox and MailReach will start conversations with other inboxes in the background.
Most of your warming emails will be opened, replied, marked as important and removed from spam. You then get plenty of positive interactions.
It literally teaches the email providers to send your emails to the inbox of your recipients.
MailReach is compatible with any inbox / SMTP
How to Prevent Emails From Going to Spam in 2022 – The Ultimate, No Bullshit Email Deliverability Guide.