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How to Avoid the Spam Folder

04-22-16 by Hamlet Khodabakhsh

The million dollar question for email marketers is “How do I avoid the Spam folder?” It’s the one question on every marketer’s mind but in order to avoid facing this issue there are a few things one must know first. I will be covering some basic information about spam filters, 3rd party services that can help, as well as abuse reports. The inbox is much like a person’s trust: it is much easier to maintain peoples trust in you than to lose it and have to gain it back.

What Is SPAM?

To start with, what is considered SPAM? SPAM = sending unsolicited or irrelevant emails. Additionally, depending on the country you’re sending emails to, there are also laws that the marketer must follow. For instance, the United States created the “CAN-SPAM Act of 2003,” which took effect Jan. 1, 2004. The details of the law include basic best practices that most good marketers would see as common sense, such as getting permission before sending emails, including a link for users to opt-out, etc. You can read the full details of the law here. Information about the Canadian anti-spam laws can be found here .

SPAM Filters

So what are SPAM filters? To keep it simple, your email’s fate rests on the SPAM filter because it will ultimately determine whether your email will be delivered, and if delivered whether it will hit the spam folder or inbox. The filters have a large list of requirements that they look into when determining your “spam score”. They go through their list and assign you a score based on their list of requirements. Based on that score, you will either hit the inbox or spam folder.

Computer screen with email inbox

Third-party Services That Can Help

There are two main services that can greatly help you avoid acting like a spammer.

  1. First one would be list scrubbing services. What they do is go through your email lists and remove all invalid email addresses and those that might be a spam trap.
  2. Another great service to include in your email marketing tool belt would be email deliverability monitoring services. These services will give you a good idea of what percent of emails are actually hitting the inbox. It also breaks it down into the various major domains. This is an absolutely crucial tool for those who have a larger list size.

Dealing with Complaints

The one thing everyone should already expect with every email blast that goes out are users who unsubscribe and/or complain. What I mean by “complain” is when they mark your email as “spam” in the inbox. This generates an automated complaint against the sender that alerts the spam filters. This ultimately raises your spam score (the higher your spam score, the worse it is). The most important KPI for email deliverability is hands down the complaint rate. If your complaint rate is high, you are essentially handcuffing yourself and limiting your email campaign performance.

Overall, avoiding the spam folder can be easy if you follow basic best practices. Unfortunately, this is sometimes easier said than done so if you find yourself running into issues or questions, I highly encourage you to email me at I will be happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you might have.

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