Why Are My Emails Going to Spam? Here Are 10 Reasons Why (And How You Can Fix It)

Jun 26, 2023

As a marketer, every single email matters. You likely pour countless hours into crafting the perfect campaign. You’ve gone back and forth on the messaging, created eye-catching visuals, narrowed down the audience to the most appropriate segment.

You hit send.

But then, the unimaginable happens. Your email starts landing in your recipient’s spam folder.

Being caught in the spam filter is a common issue and headache for marketers around the world and of all experience levels. 

While the spam folder is intended to be a protective measure to shield recipients from unwanted or malicious emails, the algorithms can be overzealous, often flagging legitimate emails. 

So, why are your carefully constructed emails ending up in spam, and what can you do about it?

Keep reading as we dive into the world of spam filters and email deliverability. We will highlight the key reasons why your emails are landing in the spam folder as well as actionable strategies that you can use to keep your emails landing in the primary inbox.

What is an email spam filter?

An email spam filter is an algorithm that is used to detect unsolicited and unwanted emails while also preventing those messages from getting to a recipient’s primary inbox. 

The intended goal of these filters is to keep users safe from potentially harmful or irrelevant emails, such as phishing scams or spammy promotional emails.

Email spam filters work by applying certain criteria to incoming emails and then deciding whether to allow them into the inbox or filter them into the spam or junk folder. 

While spam filters intentions are good and they do in fact play a critical role in protecting users, they are not perfect and can sometimes mistakenly flag legitimate emails as spam. For this reason, it's important for marketers to follow best practices in order to have the highest likelihood of landing in the primary inbox.

What is the CAN-SPAM act?

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) act is a United States law that acts as the rules for commercial email and gives recipients the right to have businesses stop emailing them. 

The act was signed into law in 2003 and is primarily aimed at reducing spam email. 

Under the CAN-SPAM Act, commercial emails must comply with several requirements:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information

  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines

  • Identify the message as an ad

  • Tell recipients where you’re located

  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you

  • Honor opt-out requests promptly

  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

Requirements via ftc.gov. View full requirements here.

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to all commercial messages. Violations can lead to stiff penalties, including hefty fines up to $50,120. 

While this is a U.S. law, the above is not legal advice and it is important to speak to a lawyer to ensure that you are in full compliance.

Why are my emails going to spam?

We’ve already established that sometimes a well-intentioned email can inadvertently end up in someone’s spam folder. But what are some of the specific triggers that may send your email into the blackhole of the spam folder?

You haven’t properly authenticated your emails

If you haven't set up SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), or DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), email servers might mark your messages as spam.

Quick fix: Take the necessary time and effort to properly authenticate your emails. [will work on DMARC article next and link to that here] 

You have a poor sender reputation

If you have a history of sending emails from your domain that get marked as spam, this can damage your sender reputation and lead to more of your emails getting marked as spam.

Once your domain has a bad sender reputation, it is extremely difficult to dig yourself out of the hole that you have put yourself into.

Quick fix: Email marketing is a long game. Don’t attempt to take early shortcuts that may lead to your recipients marking your emails as spam. Take the time to build relationships with your recipients and only send them engaging and relevant emails.

Your emails contain spammy content

Your email contains language or formatting that is often associated with spam, such as excessive use of capital letters, exclamation points, excessive bolding, use of text colors or certain phrases and words that are often found in spam emails.

And believe it or not, adding the phrase “this isn’t spam” will not help your case. In fact, this will fastrack your email to the spam folder.

Quick fix: DON’T SEND MESSAGES IN ALL CAPS!!! Also avoid possible trigger words like “congratulations, click here, see more, free, bonus, dear friend, etc”.

Ultimately, “spammy content” is subjective. Craft your emails in an authentic way that you yourself would be happy to receive and open.

Your emails have a high bounce rate

If you frequently send emails to non-existent email addresses, this will increase your bounce rate and can lead to your emails being marked as spam.

This could include email addresses that contain a simple typo.

Quick fix: Keep a clean email list. Automatically remove the email addresses that are bouncing. There is zero benefit to continuously email a bouncing email address. 

You can also enable a double opt-in for your subscribers. This will require them to click a link in their email after subscribing to verify that their email address is legitimate. This adds a layer of friction to adding new subscribers but helps ensure your list is clean and engaged. 

Your emails have low engagement rates

If recipients rarely open your emails, or if they delete your emails without reading them, email providers may begin to mark your emails as spam or give you less benefit of the doubt when evaluating the other potential issues in this list.

Quick fix: Try experimenting with your subject lines (but don’t be deceiving) to encourage opens. Ask your recipients to reply to your emails and add relevant CTAs. 

You did not receive permission to email the recipient

If you are increasingly emailing recipients who did not give explicit permission for you to do so, you will likely see extremely low engagement along with the emails being automatically flagged as spam as well as manually by the recipient themself.

Quick fix: This one should be common sense… only email those who have opted-in to receiving emails from you.

You are including potentially harmful links

Including many links or suspicious links in emails will likely lead to your emails being flagged as spam. Including links that aren’t considered top-level domains (think .com, .net, .org) such as a .xyz domain will increasingly flag your emails.

Quick fix: Avoid including links to external sites when possible — especially if they do not have a top-level domain or high domain reputation themselves. 

You are including attachments

Believe it or not, simply adding attachments could send an otherwise “good” email to someone’s spam folder. Attachments are an easy way to send malware to unsuspecting recipients so spam filters have gotten increasingly tough on them.

Quick fix: Avoid sending attachments. If an attachment is 100% necessary consider sending it as a link (through a trusted service like Dropbox) or via a separate email. 

Best practice is to include as much of the content as possible directly in the email itself.

You did not include an unsubscribe link

Email marketing messages coming from well-intentioned senders will have a clear way for recipients to opt out or unsubscribe. If this is missing, your email might be marked as spam.

Quick fix: Follow CAN-SPAM laws and include an easy way for your recipients to unsubscribe from further emails. Not only will this keep you in compliance with the law but will also help ensure that you are only sending emails to recipients who wish to continue receiving your content. Win-win. 

Your “From” information is incorrect or misleading

The information in your “From” line of an email is supposed to tell your recipient who is sending the email. If you attempt to be misleading with this field you will likely find your emails landing in spam.

Quick fix: Include the real name of the person sending the email (ex. Ryan from Workspaces) and ensure that this “From” field has your admin address for the website which you are sending emails on behalf of.

Send better emails

While emails landing in spam can deliver a huge blow to your business, the key reasons and remedies above should help you avoid it as much as possible.

Outside of following email sending best practices, it’s also important to send your emails with a reputable email service provider (ESP) like Loops. We follow all of the necessary steps and laws to give you a great head start towards landing in your recipients primary inbox.

The only thing you’ll need to do is craft a great email. Get started for free today.

Ready to send better email?

Ready to send better email?

Loops is a better way to send product, marketing, and transactional email for your SaaS company.

Loops is a better way to send product, marketing, and transactional email for your SaaS company.