Spam Filter 101: How to Land in the Inbox

The spam filter is a double-edged sword.

It does a lot of admirable work preventing unsavory emails from muddying up your inbox. In some ways, it’s like a moat full of alligators that emails fall into when the drawbridge isn’t let down.

On the other hand, spam filters can be a pain for email marketers, due to its imperfect algorithms. Everyone’s been in a situation where you’re waiting on an email, only to find it’s been misallocated to your spam folder.

Thankfully, there are ways around this imperfect technology.

If you’re interested in making sure the drawbridge is always down for your marketing content, here are some crafty ways to bypass the spam filter.

Make sure to use anti-spam language

Your mother always told you to watch your language, but there's a whole set of curse words that she didn’t tell you about, and among those are “free,” “promo,” and “buy,” just to name a few.

These words might sound innocent, but spam filters are likely to read these words as being indicative of sketchy, get-rich-quick content.

Along with keeping your content clean, so to speak, you’ll also want to make sure that all of your links are to establish, trustworthy sources. Likewise, images should be hosted at services that are equally trustworthy.

While workarounds for anti-spam language might have worked in the past, such as inserting symbols between letters (fr.ee), spam filters have since caught on. It’s best to avoid such terms altogether than to try and outsmart the A.I.

When the spam filter reads your email as it comes in, any one of these issues could have it relegated to the spam folder.

Send emails through an email marketing service

When it comes to sending out marketing emails, it can sometimes be tempting to use your personal email address. Depending on where you are, it can be more convenient.

But sending a marketing email through a personal account doesn’t provide a strong guarantee that the email will go through.

Instead, you should only be sending emails through a reputable EMS (email marketing service). By doing so, the EMS will automatically legitimize your emails and domain.

Source: Really Good Emails

To offer further protection against the spam, you should consider asking those on your email list to add your address to their contacts. If two emails addresses are in each other’s address book, then the emails between them will never go to spam.

This is also beneficial because the people who take the time to add you to their contacts are more likely to engage with your content than the people who ignore the request.

Purchased lists are against spam policy

Anything worth having, is worth working for email lists included. When you see a shortcut that looks too good to be true, it usually is.

One of those shortcuts may be purchasing an email list. On the surface, it sounds like a good deal: you automatically get a large list of potential customers and with almost no effort.

The downside is that sending out mass emails to any of these lists will quickly lower your reputation among spam filters. Not only are many of the emails on the list probably unused, but there could even be spam traps.

Once you fall into one of these spam traps, the addresses on the purchased that are valid won’t even matter anymore because your content will be automatically flagged as spam.

Even if sending out a mass of unsolicited emails didn’t put you in spam timeout, purchased lists would still be a waste of money. How often does anyone actually click on unsolicited emails?

Maybe in the early days of the internet, when people were still figuring this thing out, purchased lists could work. But the internet’s been around long enough for people—and spam filters—to wise up.

Double-check the name of Your email address

In addition to your email’s body of text, spam filters will also scan the “from” address.

One of the first traps you can walk into is having an email address that’s too ambiguous. For instance, having an email address that’s only numbers and symbols will quickly get you on the spam policy’s naughty list.

Instead, you’ll want to stick with clear, obvious names. If you email from a customer service email, use something like “support@brandname.” That way, the spam policy clearly knows the purpose of the email, as does the recipient.

It may be tempting to think up a clever, fun address, but it’s safer to fall back on the tried-and-true.

Another way to end up in the spam folder is by changing your email address too many times. This won’t fool the spam policy.

Set up test accounts on various email providers

If you’ve followed all the rules and want to make sure your emails are getting through, there’s a way to test them. If you’re worried this involves some technical expertise, don’t be. It’s simple enough that anyone can do it if they have a little time to spare.

All you have to do is create an account will all of the major email providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Then, put those emails on your mailing list.

Next time you send out emails, check the accounts you made. If you the emails came through, you have a pretty good idea of whether or not your actual customers received theirs.

If you’ve followed all the rules and want to make sure your emails are getting through, there’s a way to test them. If you’re worried this involves some technical expertise, don’t be. It’s simple enough that anyone can do it if they have a little time to spare.

All you have to do is create an account will all of the major email providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Then, put those emails on your mailing list.

Next time you send out emails, check the accounts you made. If emails came through, you have a pretty good idea of whether or not your actual customers received theirs.

Remain an active part of your mailing list’s inbox

Even though it’s ironic, one of the best ways to bypass the spam filter is by sending regular emails. Waiting months before each email can have detrimental effects on your spam policy credibility.

This issue exists because of your reputation among the spam filters and that it is largely dependent on how people react to your content. If people are deleting your emails or sending them to their spam folder, the spam filter will learn from this and attempt to get ahead of it.

People may treat your emails this way if they don’t remember signing up for a mailing list. Therefore, keeping active—but not too active—is necessary for keeping your name in the clients’ heads.

Source: Really Good Emails

If they forget about you, it’s all over.

Offer subscribers a second chance to opt-in

In the same vein as remaining an active part of your subscribers’ inboxes, another way to keep a positive engagement rate is by offering them a second chance to opt-in.

At first, this may sound counterintuitive. After all, you did the impossible by getting someone to volunteer for marketing emails. Why push it?

Source: Really Good Emails

The people who do choose to opt-in twice are serious about receiving the emails. Meaning that their engagement rate is going to be much higher than the average subscriber. When you have a high engagement rate with your subscribers, the spam filter doesn’t mess with you.

As for the people who choose not to opt-in twice, they’ll remain on the mailing list, though they might not be the most active participant.

Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

Keeping a clean mailing list will please the spam policy

When a mailing list gets old, some of its members will likely drop away from a variety of reasons. Your emails will be going to dead accounts. When your emails go to dead accounts, there’s no one to engage, and your emails get a low engagement rate.

A low engagement rate means, of course, that your emails are more likely to end up in the spam folder.

Therefore, you should regularly go through your mailing list and prune it for dead accounts.

It’s better to have a small mailing list with a high engagement rate than a large mailing list with a small engagement rate.

Wrap up

Crafting the perfect email campaign takes a ton of work.

The last thing anyone wants is for their work to be tossed out by an automated spam filter before it can be seen.

To prevent ending up in email jail, here are the helpful tips that were covered.

  • Use anti-spam language
  • Use an EMS
  • Stay away from purchased lists
  • Have a good email address
  • Test your emails
  • Remain active
  • Offer a second opt-in
  • Keep a clean mailing list

By following these simple rules, your emails should be able to evade the spam filter and land safely in each and every one of your recipients’ inboxes.

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