Emails Going to Spam? 12 Reasons Why That Happens and What You Can Do About It

33 min

Are you worried that your emails won’t reach your customers’ inbox? That your bottom line will get a hit because of how spam filters evaluate your messages? Or perhaps you’re already seeing that your emails go to spam instead of the inbox and you’re looking for help?

News: Gmail and Yahoo! have both announced major changes to their email authentication requirements and spam prevention policies, set to take effect in February 2024. One of the announced changes is the requirement that bulk email senders start using custom domains for their email campaigns. Learn more about these and other changes in our blog post covering the Gmail and Yahoo authentication changes.

If any of these made you nod, then don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re not only going to tackle the main question – why do emails go to spam? – but also we’re going to offer solutions that’ll help you improve your inbox placement rate.

Best of all, you’ll be able to fix most of the issues listed here all by yourself as they’re related to things like how you’re building and managing your email list or constructing your email templates. Only a few will require some additional help from your email marketing software provider.

So without further ado, here are the 12 reasons why some emails go to spam and what you can do to prevent them from doing so in the future.

12 reasons why emails go to spam and what you can do about it

What the dreaded spam folder looks like for a Gmail user.
What the dreaded spam folder looks like for a Gmail user.

1. You don’t have permission to contact your recipients

Although email marketing has always been permission-based, the regulations and the definition of “consent” often vary across different countries.

Because of these differences, you’d often hear about marketers who downloaded an email list from the Internet or bought it from another company and then thought it was OK to send them marketing emails as long as you give them the option to unsubscribe. However, that’s no longer enough.

Regulations like the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have become stricter about how email marketers handle customer personal information. They’re clear that it’s not enough to offer your email subscribers a way out.

So before you start sending your email campaigns, you should always make sure that you have permission to do so. If you neglect that, you’re not only risking that your emails will be going to spam, but you could also be liable to a fine.

That’s why if:

  • you’re still filling your email campaigns with contacts from Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIn, or any other place where you’ve interacted with people,
  • you’re an ecommerce business automatically adding people to your list from the checkout page,
  • you’re using a pre-checked newsletter consent checkbox in your web form,
  • you’re using co-registration or co-sponsored affiliate data with no explicit consent, 
  • buying or downloading email lists from the ‘reputable sites’…

…you should stop right now.

There are plenty of perfectly good email list building methods out there you could try. For starters, here’s a list of the best ways how you can build an email list from scratch.

And if you’re unsure whether it’s OK to contact some of the people who’re already in your database, consider running a reconfirmation campaign. By sending an email that’s going to ask your audience explicitly if they want to stay on your list, you can be sure that only those who’re still interested in your offer will remain on the list.

Not sure what these look like? Here’s one example we’ve received when GDPR came into force:

Reconfirmation email message from Fink.
Reconfirmation email sent right before GDPR came into force by Fink.

Pro tip 1: If you’re finding consent management challenging, check out the GetResponse Consent fields. These will help you easily store, manage, and view all the consents that your contacts have given you. Here’s an example of what you’ll see when one of your contacts gives you their consent, e.g., when signing up through one of your landing pages.

How it looks when a contact has given you consent for marketing communication.

Pro tip 2: To improve your inbox placement rate and to avoid getting your emails being reported as spam, make sure always to exclude (or suppress) contacts who haven’t given you the right consent. This is especially important if, in your database, you’re storing contacts, some of whom haven’t agreed to receive marketing emails.

Pro tip 3. If you’re sending the same message to numerous marketing lists, check if your email service provider automatically skips duplicate email addresses. Not all platforms do it out of the box, so be extra careful, as you don’t want to send the same message multiple times to your target audience.

When selecting recipients from multiple lists GetResponse will only send your message to unique email addresses.
When selecting recipients from multiple lists, GetResponse will only send your message to unique email addresses.

2. It’s not clear what your subscribers are signing up for

Transparency is key, especially when it comes to building your customer base.

When filling out your signup form, users should be fully aware of what kind of communication they’re going to be receiving in the future.

It’s not alright to advertise one service and send emails about another one unless you’ve specified that in your web form. Or to say that you’re just collecting submissions for a competition and end up using the email database for marketing communication.

Be crystal clear about what you’re going to talk about in your emails – and then deliver on that promise. When you do that, you’ll see that your unsubscribe and complaint rates will drop. And your sender’s reputation will improve.

Pro tip 1: Make sure that your web form, the thank you page following it, and your welcome email clearly state what your users are signing up for. Doing this early in the subscription process improves your chances of building strong relationships with your audience. And reducing the likelihood of your emails going to spam.

Take a look at this example from a brand called Further. Throughout their signup form, consent popup, thank you page, confirmation email, and subscription confirmation page, they’ve made it clear what their newsletter is about, how frequent their communication is, and how the subscriber can make sure to receive the communication in their inbox. Because of this thoughtful process, they can be sure that only those who really want to join their subscription will end up in their database.

Step 1. Signup form from Further explaining who the newsletter is for.
Step 1. Signup form from Further explaining who the newsletter is for
Step 2. Consent popup appearing after the user provided their email address.
Step 2. Consent popup appearing after the user provided their email address
Step 3. Confirmation page telling you that you need to click the confirmation email.
Step 3. Confirmation page telling you that you need to click the confirmation email
Step 4. Subscription confirmation email
Step 4. Subscription confirmation email
Step 5. Newsletter subscription confirmation page welcoming new subscribers.
Step 5. Newsletter subscription confirmation page welcoming new subscribers

Pro tip 2: If you want to lower your unsubscribe rate a good idea might be to fill out your email list description visible in your subscriber’s preference center. This will help your audience decide which lists they want to stay subscribed to and which ones they want to opt out from.

Here’s what it looks like when a contact clicks the unsubscribe link in one of the emails sent by the GetResponse Marketing Team. They see all the essential information regarding their subscription. This includes the date of their subscription and the name and description of the list they’ve signed up to.

The preference center where GetResponse subscribers can manage which lists they're signed up to.
The preference center where GetResponse subscribers can manage which lists they’re signed up to.

3. You’re sending your email campaigns from a freemail domain (e.g., Gmail or Yahoo!)

When starting their journey with email marketing, marketers often use freemail domains like Gmail or Outlook to send out their newsletters. While it’s not illegal, we don’t recommend this approach.

Many mailbox providers reject bulk emails that come from freemail domains such as Yahoo!, AOL, Gmail, or ISPs would rather receive messages coming from domains that have been registered by an individual sender, whom they can track back and whose reputation they can evaluate.

Tracking back the individual sender is naturally not possible for freemail domains, which may explain why they are often abused by scammers and people who deliberately want to send out spam.

So what should you do instead? All you have to do is set up a custom domain or create a subdomain under your existing domain and use it for your email campaigns.

Custom Email Domain.

Even if you’re going to use it only in the from address and not the mailing domain you’re physically sending your messages from, it’s going to help you deliver your message better.

That isn’t to say that changing the from address is going to change things for you instantly. Your from address will slowly build a reputation of its own, so it’s best to gradually increase your sending volumes rather than go for a big email blast right away.

Pro tip: Using tools like the Spam Assassin will help you identify such common mistakes as the freemail domain in your from address. By running your newsletters through a spam checker, your chances of reaching the inbox grow considerably higher.

Email Deliverability Checklist by GetResponse cover

Bonus Checklist

Download this quick checklist to improve your email deliverability and start sending email campaigns that make the cash register ring.

Download guide

Alright, let’s go over another important reason why emails go to spam.

4. You’re not using the right email marketing software

I know this sounds like we’re tooting our own horn, but it’s impossible not to mention a critical factor – your email marketing software.

It’s not only the technology that’s enabling you to send emails to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of recipients within minutes. Your email service provider also plays a big role in delivering your emails to your subscribers’ inboxes.

Let’s take our example.

Here, at GetResponse, we manage your IP reputation, process bounces, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and set up feedback loops.

Thanks to this, we know when an email address is no longer active, is misspelled, or when the recipient wants to unsubscribe. Once we see such addresses, we remove them from your list, so that your deliverability isn’t affected, and you don’t have to pay extra for contacts that hold no value to your business.

On top of that, we also check your email lists for common issues when they’re being imported, automatically assign engagement scores to your contacts to make re-engagement campaigns easier, and also help with custom DKIM configuration if you’re using your own domain.

We also team up with various ISPs and anti-spam organizations, like Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), Email Experience Council (EEC), Certified Senders Alliance (CSA), and Email Service Provider Coalition (ESPC) to learn from each other how to better secure our systems and fight spammers and phishers.

As a result, customers who use our platform and follow the best practices covered in this guide don’t need to worry about spam filters.

Pro tip 1: One more thing that’s worth pursuing is email authentication. Setting up the SPF, DKIM, and DMARC will make you a recognizable sender for the ISP. Identifying you means they’ll be sure you’re not impersonating anyone else. It will also help you increase your domain and IP reputation and make all the good things you do “stick” to your brand.

If you’re a GetResponse user and would like to learn more about how you can authenticate your domain using DKIM, read our DKIM help guide.

DMARC configuration inside GetResponse.
DKIM configuration inside GetResponse

Pro tip 2: While designing and coding your own emails from scratch works for many out there, one of the common reasons why emails go to spam is that their HTML code isn’t clean.

To avoid that, either hire a developer who’s on top of the email design game specifically (coding for email is very different from coding websites) or use an email maker (it could be a standalone one or one that comes with your email service provider).

The latter will help you design and edit your email templates freely (they look great and are mobile-responsive, too) without the need to bother your designers. On top of that, you’ll know your emails are designed specifically for all the most popular email clients.

Email marketing templates library available in GetResponse.
Email marketing templates library available in GetResponse.

5. You’re making it difficult to unsubscribe

This one’s a red flag and one of the top reasons why subscribers report emails as spam.

If someone wants to stop receiving marketing communication from a particular sender, the last thing they want to do is to spend extra time looking for a way to unsubscribe.

The moment they find it difficult or lose trust in their request being processed successfully – they report the message as spam or manually move it to their spam box. In both cases, the marketer is at loss.

Here’s what you should avoid:

  • burying down the unsubscribe link below the main part of your footer (e.g., by adding empty lines on top of it),
  • hiding the unsubscribe link (e.g., by changing the copy or writing in a hard-to-read color),
  • making your recipients contact you to resign from the newsletter,
  • making recipients log into some form of a panel to unsubscribe or change their mailing preferences,
  • taking unreasonably long to process your users’ requests to unsubscribe.

Adding any of the above roadblocks just gets you closer to having your emails marked as spam and having them negatively evaluated by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) spam filters.

Here’s one example of an email message I received that’s trying to bury the unsubscribe link far away in the footer. It’s something you don’t want to do in your own email communication if you value your sender reputation.

What burying the unsubscribe link in the message footer looks like.
What burying the unsubscribe link in the message footer looks like

Pro tip 1: If you’re worried about your unsubscribe rate being too high, consider offering your subscribers a way to opt down, lower the mailing frequency, or even pausing it for a particular period of time (e.g., 90 days).

A separate email list or segment will be enough for you to divide your recipients into separate groups, e.g., those who want to receive your emails every couple of days and those who prefer a weekly roundup.

Alternatively, you could also add a short description explaining why the subscriber is receiving your emails and reminding them when or how they’ve signed up for your newsletter.

Pro tip 2: If you’re seeing that your spam complaints are high and you’ve followed the tips described in points 1-3, you could try providing an additional unsubscribe link right after the preheader text inside your email message.

This may look like a radical move, but it’s better to have more people unsubscribing from your list rather than having them report your messages as spam.

Note: Our observations suggest that people from particular cultures may have a higher tendency to click the ‘report as spam’ button. One such country is Russia, which tends to observe the highest average complaint rates, as we’ve found in the Email Marketing Benchmarks report.

Moving your unsubscribe link to the preheader may be your best bet if your target audience shows similar tendencies.

6. Your email frequency is off

Emailing too frequently? Recipients get tired and start ignoring your emails. They stop engaging with your communication, and because of that, ISPs such as Gmail or Outlook move your newsletters to the junk folder.

Sending one email every couple of months or so? People don’t remember you and deliberately ignore your emails (maybe even mark them as spam). Or they accidentally miss one or two and lose the chance of seeing your content for several months straight.

As you can see, neither of these options is good for your inbox placement rates or your return on investment.

The second one’s problematic for yet another reason. If you have a big email list that you contact only every couple of months, ISPs might get alerted by the sudden email blasts. Such spikes in activity might cause temporary blocks, higher bounce rates, and more emails going to the junk folder.

As a general rule, you don’t want to blast emails to your whole customer base and should opt for a more structured approach. But we’ll get to that a bit later in this article.

Pro tip 1: Set the right email frequency by putting together your key email marketing metrics, like the total number of conversions, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates). Once you decide on the right email schedule, make sure to communicate it to your audience, e.g., in your subscription form or the welcome email.

Pro tip 2: If you want to increase your email frequency without alerting the spam filters, start by contacting your most engaged subscribers first. Use suppression lists and exclude segments less likely to respond to your email campaigns.

After you’ve managed to successfully engage your best recipients, you can start slowly including those who read your newsletters less eagerly.

High email frequency example.
Some email marketers can get away with having high email frequency. Here, even the name of the newsletter suggests that it’s a daily newsletter update. Be careful with this approach, though, as it can easily backfire. Users can get overwhelmed by too frequent communication. That will result in an opaque churn. Meaning, they won’t unsubscribe from your communication, but by ignoring it, they’ll be affecting your overall email deliverability.

7. You’re not paying enough attention to email list hygiene

Email list hygiene may sound like a funny term. But it’s a process that can have a massive impact on your email deliverability and keeping your messages out of the spam folders.

Email list hygiene management is about identifying the engaged subscribers, re-engaging those who’ve become unresponsive, and getting rid of those who hold no business value.

And whom do we mean when we’re saying that they’re holding no business value? Not just those who are no longer engaging with your communication, click the unsubscribe button, or mark your emails as spam. We also mean those who’ve provided the wrong or fake email accounts or those who’ve abandoned their mailboxes.

Now, you may be thinking that this isn’t such a big deal. But it’s worth mentioning that the email list churn eats up 25-30% of your database every year. And according to a recent study by Return Path, on average, marketers lose 44% of their new subscribers within the first twelve months of their subscription. And if a big part of that churn goes unnoticed because people don’t actually click that ‘unsubscribe button,’ then we’re looking at a potential reason why your emails end up in spam.

So what should you do? To keep your list clean – and hygienic – you should make sure your entire list-building process is flawless. That your data is collected and transferred to your email marketing software properly, and ideally, that you also use confirmed opt-in (a.k.a. double opt-in).

You’ll also want to make a habit of running re-engagement campaigns. Through these, you’ll be able to win back customers who are still interested in your brand (those who just needed a little nudge) and separate those who should be removed or reactivated through another channel.

Think of it this way: the more effort you put into this process ahead of time, the fewer problems regarding bad data, human errors, and low inbox placement you’ll have in the future.

Pro tip 1: If your list hasn’t been cleaned in a while or you haven’t processed bounces and unsubscribes before, you should start now. The best way to do this is to use an email verification tool and set up an automated re-engagement campaign that’ll send a couple of emails to those recognized by the system as inactive.

GetResponse includes ready-made marketing automation templates that you can use to carry out such a campaign. Plus it automatically identifies subscribers who don’t engage in your communication and assigns them an engagement score of 1 to 5.

Engagement and retention in GetResponse.

Here’s what one of such templates looks like:

A marketing automation template from GetResponse.
A marketing automation template from GetResponse that’ll help you reengage your subscribers.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to choose whether you want to remove such subscribers from your list completely or try retargeting them using another marketing channel. In GetResponse, you can use easily do this via Facebook Ads as they’re fully integrated with the email lists and segments.

Bear in mind that there’s no set rule for when contact should be identified as inactive. Every company needs to develop its own so-called “Sunset Policy” as it’s largely affected by your sales cycle & email frequency.

In ecommerce, for example, some recipients stay inactive for the larger part of the year, but they’ll check their emails for discount codes and information about promotions around the holiday season.

Automated email results statistics report.

Take a look at this example report for one of our automated emails. We send this email to users right after they’ve filled out the subscription form in the GetResponse Resources. Notice that the bounce rate is almost 3%, most of which is caused by hard bounces (misspelled or non-existent email addresses). Removing these addresses automatically and early into the subscription will help you ensure your deliverability is unaffected, especially when you’re planning some bigger promotional activities.

You can learn more about email list hygiene best practices by watching our recent webinar:

8. Your emails are image-heavy (and text-light!)

Email marketing is slightly different from other marketing channels. Although images do play a big role in it, they can’t dominate your newsletters.

Many email marketers make this mistake: they pack their email templates with images to make them look nicer and spend less time coming up with the sales copy.

Here’s one such example from a renowned brand. Notice that even though there’s text in the email body, it’s still part of an image.

An image-heavy email.

This may seem like a good strategy – after all, people like images and can read the text even when it’s part of an image.

But there are two problems with this approach.

One is that, unless you provide the ALT text to your image, consumers that use screen readers may have trouble reading your content. Plus, with so many email clients blocking images automatically messages that don’t have the ALT text provided look rather unappealing.

Just like it would be with the following email.

An email without alt text for images.

The second one is that ISPs like Gmail or Outlook see this a bit differently.

Lots of heavy images make heavy emails and ISPs want to process as many emails as possible. By making your newsletters image-heavy, you’re making this process more difficult and resource-consuming. And because of that, they may choose to filter your messages less favorably and place them in the spam folder or even bounce them.

That isn’t to say that all emails that contain heavy images will go to spam. Email marketers with high deliverability and high subscriber engagement can often get away with slightly heavier newsletters. But I’m going to assume that this isn’t you since you’re reading this article.

On top of the email weight, ISPs also look at the amount of text that’s visible in your newsletters. They check the text-to-image ratio to evaluate the quality of your message. That’s because a lot of spammers want to avoid text-based content filters.

In general, the more text or the higher its ratio compared to images the better.

Additionally, ISPs also compare the HTML and text versions of your emails. These have to match, otherwise, the message looks suspicious, to say the least.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean your emails have to be text-only. Especially given that our studies have shown that emails that contain at least one image tend to have higher average open rates than the plain text ones.

So what should you do, when images need to be part of your email template?

First of all, check whether your email service automatically reduces the size of images you upload into your newsletter.

For example, when you add your own images into your email template in GetResponse, you’ll need to load the image editor first and save the images to have them cropped and compressed. This is different for GIFs, however, which you’d need to edit outside of the platform, using tools like Ezgif.

Alternatively, when saving your files in your image editing software, make sure to use an option that’ll be called “export them for the web” or something along these lines.

And if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to bother your designer, use an online tool called Squoosh. It’s really quick and can help you make your images optimized – both to be used in the email campaigns or on your website in general.

Pro tip: One way to increase your text-to-image ratio is to add more copy into your footer. There, you could explain why your subscribers are receiving the email, who it’s being sent by, and how one can manage their mailing preferences or unsubscribe.

This is in addition to adding the elements that are required by CAN-Spam Act in the United States and other regulations. One such element is the Impressum, which states the name and physical address of the company sending the email.

Another way you can increase your text-to-image ratio is to add copy (in text, not over an image) into your email introduction and product descriptions. The same goes for creating call to action (CTA) buttons, which could be coded and styled so that they don’t look much different from what your designer would create.

UX perspective: View entire message example.

This is more of an UX concern rather a deliverability one (so it won’t stop your emails from going to the junk folder), but you might want to take this into consideration. Gmail, which is the most popular email client, will clip emails they consider too large. If you add too much content, a critical part of your message might remain hidden until someone clicks the “View entire message” link.

To learn more about the proper way to design your email templates, consider reading our email design best practices guide.

9. You’re linking to suspicious websites (among other things)

Not many email marketers realize this, but when ISPs and their spam filters analyze your email’s content, they also go through your links.

If you’re trying to improve your email deliverability because they’re getting flagged as spam, here are several things to avoid:

  • linking to websites that have a low domain reputation,
  • using links that redirect users many times,
  • using suspicious link shorteners,
  • having a small text-to-link ratio,
  • linking to too many different domains.

Bear in mind that your links could be hidden in the images that you’re using. If they’re hosted on a website with a bad domain reputation, you might also get hit by email spam filters.

Overall, you should check the websites you’re linking to and how many links there are in your email in general. Again, the higher the text-to-link ratio the better.

As for the number of domains you’re linking to, what you should be looking for is the so-called domain alignment. In other words, in the ideal world, the domains that are used in your from address, mailing domain, and inside of your email content will all match.

Pro tip 1: Before hitting the send button, make sure to analyze your emails with a spam checker, like the Spam Check tool that’s built into GetResponse.

Email Spam Check automatically evaluates your emails for common deliverability issues - GetResponse Email Creator.
Email Spam Check automatically evaluates your emails for common deliverability issues – GetResponse Email Creator.

If you use this tool and notice that your score is too high (most filters are set to 5.0), try to identify the element that’s responsible for the higher Spam Score. If you’re unsure which one it is, try cutting out the content of your email one element or section at a time and keep checking if the score’s changed.

This way you’ll be able to locate the section or individual element that’s causing trouble. It could just as well be a single link or part of your copy, so pay attention to all elements within your email template.

Pro tip 2: If you’d like to reduce your spam score further, there’s one more thing that you can do – add the plain text version of your message into your email template. Why bother adding it?

Because it’s one of the elements, ISPs use to evaluate the authenticity of your email campaigns. It can also be useful for those who prefer to read emails in their non-HTML version. Besides, this step should reduce your Spam Score roughly by 1.1 point.

In GetResponse, this is added automatically to all HTML emails. But other email service providers may offer this option separately, so be sure to check it out.

10. You’re playing dirty

Some marketers will do anything to increase their email open rates and get a chance of receiving a click on their link.

What they often don’t realize, however, is their tactics leave their customers at loss. And even if there’s any short-term gain for their business, it often has a long-term impact on their whole email marketing program.

What sort of tactics are we talking about? For example, adding phrases like “Re:” or “Fwd:” to their subject lines. Adding these elements is meant to trick the subscribers into thinking that your marketing email is just a regular massage they’d receive from a friend or colleague.

Naturally, newsletters and other marketing communication don’t work this way. Although they do include personalization or a friendly from name, they’re not meant to trick people into thinking that they’re sent from an individual person in response to their previous email.

How about using the so-called spam trigger words?You know, words like “buy now” or “free”. Believe it or not, most lists of “words to avoid” are now obsolete. Spam filters have evolved so much, they don’t just look at the direct use of common phrases like the ones above. Using phrases like “cheap” won’t move your emails into the spam folder.

Still, there are tactics that you should avoid. Here are a few, shared by our Deliverability Manager, Martin Schwill, for Econtent:

Just what is considered spam these days? In general, the fundamentals still apply. This includes using a low-quality list that has not been cleaned and/or its subscribers have not clearly opted in to receive messages. Also, poor quality messages, inaccurate targeting, and the lack of solid authentication technology (e.g. SPF, DKIM, DMARC), all continue to be key triggers for filtering. Digging deeper into the current state of spam filters, here’s what else the filters are evaluating behind the scenes:

If the message resembles current or known phishing scams.

Hashbusters: These blocks of text, which are sometimes invisible to recipients, are often used in the mail structure itself in an attempt to deceive the filters.

Hiding text in HTML comments or by using fonts, colors, or backgrounds to reduce their visibility.

Incorrect or suspicious code.

The image-to-text ratio.

Pro tip: Now that spam filters have become more complex, your main focus should be on increasing your email subscribers’ engagement. One of the best ways to do this is to use email automation. Automated emails are sent in response to your recipients’ actions and preferences, which is why they generate above-average open and click-through rates. There are of course other ways to increase your engagement, but we’ll go over that in a moment.

11. Your email engagement rates are low

Spam filters are also looking at how much your subscribers engage in your email communication.

The more your recipients interact with your content, the better your chances of landing in the inbox. This also means you don’t have to be as cautious as those who are just starting to send email campaigns or those whose emails land in the spam folder.

The opposite is also true. The lower your engagement rates are, the more careful you have to be about how you run your email campaigns. You need to put extra effort to have your emails delivered successfully.

If you’re seeing that your average email marketing metrics are below the email industry benchmarks, there are a few things you should do.

First of all, focus on improving your email list hygiene. As we’ve discussed in point #7, it’s critical to keep your list clean from bad or inactive email addresses. That’s why you should regularly run re-engagement campaigns that’ll reactivate and separate inactive recipients from your most loyal readers.

The second thing you should consider is lead nurturing. Instead of throwing your new subscribers into the same stream of communication everyone else receives, you should treat them in a more special way. By designing a drip campaign, you can turn your new contacts from complete strangers to active consumers one message at a time.

A big part of your lead nurturing campaigns will be welcome emails. They’re not only great for creating a great first impression but also for engagement and deliverability. They reach an average of 63.91% open rates and 14.34% CTRs, and can help you get your customers used to checking your emails in their inbox. You can also use welcome emails to ask your recipients to add you to their safe senders’ list.

And setting up welcome emails is easy. All you have to do is either set up an autoresponder or a marketing automation workflow that’ll be sent right after a new contact joins your list.

Here’s what this looks like in the GetResponse Autoresponders:

welcome message in getresponse autoresponder.

Last but not least, make sure to segment your audience for all major campaigns. Rather than sending email blasts to everyone who’s on your list, pick the customer segments that are most likely to be interested in your offer.

You could base this on customer attributes they’ve provided when signing up to your list or by looking at their past behavior and identifying only those who are engaged in your communication.

By going for the more targeted approach you’re likely going to see higher engagement rates and won’t need to worry about missing the inbox any longer.

To prove our point, just consider the results we’ve generated with one of our campaigns. We sent the very same email (the only difference is the day) to three audiences. The top one is the one our system marked as engaged, and the bottom two are unengaged subscribers. Notice how different are the unique open rates and click-through rates? And now imagine how you could improve your inbox placement rate if you only focused on those who are engaged and focused on reactivating those who are unengaged early in their journey.

The same campaign generated much different results when sent to engaged and unengaged subscribers.
The same campaign generated much different results when sent to engaged and unengaged subscribers.

Pro tip: Increasing your email engagement rates takes time. If your messages mostly land in the spam folders, start sending your email campaigns to only your most engaged audience. Once you’ve managed to reach them, slowly begin to go for the slightly less engaged ones – and ideally skip those who are completely unengaged.

As mentioned before, in GetResponse, we evaluate your subscribers’ activity and assign them different engagement scores automatically. Here’s what this looks like:

How to find contacts with different engagement scores inside GetResponse.
How to find contacts with different engagement scores inside GetResponse

12. Your mailing IP has a bad history record

If you’ve gone through all the aforementioned reasons, fixed them, and your emails are still landing in the spam folder – the chances are that your mailing IP is to blame.

The IP you’re sending your email campaigns through builds a reputation of its own. And this reputation stays with that IP address for months, even when nobody’s using the IP to run their email campaigns.

This means that if you’ve acquired an IP address (or your email software provider assigned you one), it may have someone else’s reputation still affecting the deliverability.

This isn’t usually a problem, because most email marketing providers (including GetResponse, except for the MAX plan) use a number of shared IPs to process your campaigns.

In other words, the reputation is built by a number of marketers at the same time. Plus, the email traffic is directed through different channels to make sure the deliverability stays intact.

Having said this, if you’re experiencing deliverability issues and you’re using your own mailing IP, this is something you should explore further

Related read: Shared or Dedicated IP Configuration: Which is Right for Me?

Note: It’s also possible that your IPs’ reputation gets affected by someone else who’s sending their campaigns from an address within the same IP class. This is rarely the case, but if nothing else works, you should check out the reputation of addresses within your IP class, too.

Pro tip: If you’re considering using a dedicated IP address to send out your campaigns, look for an email service provider that comes with full support. GetResponse MAX customers, for example, get a dedicated account manager who overlooks their domain reputation and mailing practices to provide constant support and guidance.

Example of IP blacklist check report created with MxToolbox.
Example of IP blacklist check report created with MxToolbox

Pro tip: To check if your IP is listed on one of the popular blacklists, you can use online tools, like the MXToolBox. Bear in mind that not all blacklists affect your email deliverability. There are tier 1 blacklists (e.g. Spamhaus) and lower-tier ones that were created only for commercial reasons and aren’t used by ISPs when filtering your emails. In other words, even if you do find your IP or domain listed on one of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean your emails will end up in spam.

Get out of the spam folder today

Now that you’ve learned these 12 reasons why your email campaigns could be going to spam instead of the inbox and how to be seen as one of the great email senders, it’s time you start improving your email deliverability.

If you’re unsure about any of the factors mentioned above, just reach out to us in the comments and we’ll do what we can to help you out.

And if you’re ready to move your campaigns to an email software provider that comes with over 20 years of experience and a full team dedicated to email deliverability, then be sure to sign up for GetResponse. It offers a free plan and comes packed with all the tools you’ll need to reach your email recipients effectively.

Michal Leszczynski
Michal Leszczynski
Meet Michal Leszczynski, Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. With 10+ years of experience, Michal is a seasoned expert in all things online marketing. He’s a prolific writer, skilled webinar host, and engaging public speaker. Outside of business hours, Michal shares his wealth of knowledge as an Email Marketing lecturer at Kozminski University in Warsaw. You can reach out and connect with Michal on LinkedIn.