Emails landing in the spam folder?

You’ve sent out your campaign only to see it’s landed in your spam folder. You’re about to have a nervous breakdown - what the heck happened? Don’t be alarmed. It literally happens to everyone - even seasoned email marketers. Before you start getting some fiery calls from your boss, or start pulling your hair out - read this article.

We’re here to help you understand why this has possibly happened. The bad news unfortunately is that email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc don’t provide blueprints that you can follow to ensure that you don’t land in people’s spam folders, BUT there are some common reasons why this could be happening to you. And we’re going to unpack them now and provide some solutions to help you enhance your campaigns.

Sending only to opted in subscribers

We’re like a broken record on this one, but it’s so important. You should only send emails to people who have opted in to receiving email communication from you. Our terms and conditions state that we only accept opted in lists and with the POPI Act now in effect, you’ll want to protect yourself from any complaints and ensure you don’t become a spammer (no one likes that). Don’t fall into the trap of buying email lists or even renting them. Send to people who are interested in what you have to offer.

Only send from your authenticated domain

It’s a commonly held belief that once you’ve signed up for an email marketing sending service (such as Mail Blaze) that your domain is automatically verified and authenticated. As much as we wish we could authenticate domains for our clients, it’s simply not possible as it requires us to actually add some code to your website, which we cannot access. Verification however isn’t as daunting as it sounds and you can easily verify your domain by following our support guide: how to verify your domain. Domain verification is vital to tell email clients that you are authorized to send from a specific domain address. It’s like having a verified social media account to show that you are who you say you are. Otherwise anyone could pretend to be you and start spamming an audience. Domain verification helps a lot to ensure that your emails don’t land in your subscribers’ spam box.

Don’t use link shorteners

It’s quite common for marketers to use shortened links (links that have been shortened through services like Bitly). In essence what these services do is they take longer links and make them shorter. This is useful when you are using links in your social media posts or ads where you have character limitations. In email marketing, however, short links can cause your emails to land in the spam folder as they can be seen by email clients as masked links. The best practice to follow to avoid this scenario is to use your normal links in your campaigns. This ensures that you don’t have to worry about spam filters thinking you are trying to hoodwink them. Another benefit of using your full links is that it enables better tracking, for example when you are using UTM codes.

Image to text ratio

If you have beautiful product or brand images, you could fall into the trap of stuffing your email with too many images. Balance is key! To avoid landing in the spam folder it’s important to have a good image to text ratio in your campaign. We recommend keeping your image to text ration at around 40:60. One of the reasons why emails with a large amount of images can trigger spam filters is because spammers often use images to mask spam words by placing them on the images. Instead of using images with text on them, it’s worthwhile placing your text over images in our builder instead of adding them to the actual image design.

An easy way to add more text to your email is to describe your images, caption them and add short product descriptions. This way you are adding value to your subscribers while adding to your text ratio.

Keep in mind that some of your email subscribers may also have set their email clients to not show them any images, which means your message might not resonate without additional text. When in doubt, ask yourself whether you have more text than images, if you have more images then rework your email before you hit send.

TIP: Use hyperlinks and Calls To Action to direct your subscribers.

Don’t use spammy language

They say words have power and when it comes to email this rings true too. It’s not only your subject line that’s important when it comes to the words you use, you need to check that your email content doesn’t contain any spam-triggering words.

A great tool to use to check your content is Mailtester. It will help you get a spam score which can tell you if your email needs some optimisations.

No fake reply to email addresses should be used

Nothing about your email communication should be or seem fake and this includes your reply to email address. Using a fake email address as a reply to email can lead to your email ending up in the spam box. Try to use a legitimate email address where people can actually send any replies or feedback they may have in terms of your newsletter.

This is a great way to engage with your audience and might actually lead to more positive results from your email campaigns. After all, email marketing is all about connecting and creating the best possible experience for your audience to enjoy.

Engagement rates: Positive and negative signals

Engagement rates may seem like they have nothing to do with your emails landing in your subscribers’ spam box, but they actually do. Spam filters are able to monitor the engagement rates that your email campaigns are getting and filter accordingly. If there aren’t enough positive signals being made, spam filters are more likely to put your campaigns straight into the spam box.

What are positive signals and what are negative signals that affect this filtering?

Positive signals include when subscribers:

  • Open your email
  • Click on links in your email
  • Remove your email from their spam folder
  • Reply to your email
  • Forward your email on
  • Add your email address to their Address list or contacts.

Negative signals that spam filters take into account on the other hand is the opposite of the above:

  • Not opening your emails
  • Not clicking through on any of your links
  • Not being able to reply
  • Not moving your emails out of their spam box

You may be thinking: “I can’t control some of these things,” in part yes but you can try and elicit responses. Here’s some quick wins you can implement to try and get some more positive signals going.

  • Add a message asking your subscribers to add you to their contacts.
  • Create intriguing subject lines that entice people to open your email.
  • Set a clear sender name and reply to email address to get people to connect with you.
  • Request responses to your email campaigns by asking people to respond to a question.


Inactivity can lead to your emails landing in the spam folder. By inactivity we mean that you are not sending communication to your subscribers on a regular basis. For example only reaching out to your audience sporadically. The best way to ensure this does not happen is to establish a clear sending schedule for your email marketing activity.

Not including a physical address

Not including a physical address or a PO Box (if you work from home) can cause spam filters to flag your email. Adding an address to your email campaigns gives your subscribers a visible trust cue that you are a legitimate business that they can trust. In some countries, having a physical address in your email is also a legal requirement for email communication.

Have you learned any new things about how spam filters work through this article? We hope you have and hope you will be more positive about what you can do to avoid having your campaigns land in your subscribers’ spam folder.


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