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My spam folder currently contains over 500 emails of incomprehensible phishing attempts, newsletters from companies I didn’t know I subscribed to, and a variety of unsolicited messages. I’m grateful that there’s a spam filter checking for certain email traits so my inbox isn’t entirely clogged. But what about the occasional well-meaning email that gets flagged as spam by accident?
Spam filters are hardly perfect when scanning your content. Some scams will make it to your primary inbox, while earnest senders (maybe a job recruiter, or a long lost relative) get mistaken for junk. Here are all the reasons why your email might get flagged, and how you can ensure it actually reaches your target recipient’s inbox.
If it looks like spam, it’ll get filtered as spam
While plenty of duplicitous scammers have figured out how to avoid detection, there are some surefire signs of a spam email. These are all the traits of a classic spam-worthy email that you should avoid:
- Poor grammar and spelling
- All caps
- Too much punctuation, especially exclamation points
- Too many links
- Too many attachments
- Inconsistent fonts, colors, and formatting
- Image-only emails, or a high image-to-text ratio
- Having an anonymous or unfamiliar sender name
- Addressing your recipient by “my friend” or “dear” (or not by their name)
- Promotional language like “click here,” “no cost,” or “make money now”
If you’re crafting a marketing email for your business, check out HubSpot’s list of 300+ words that could trigger spam filter.
Follow HTML best practices
While text-only emails are your safest bet, that’s not always practical. Here are some HTML best practices for email, according to Mailchimp:
- Keep the maximum width of your email between 600 and 800 pixels.
- Do not depend on images for critical information, since your recipients might block certain media elements.
- Review any links added to your email signature, avoiding any websites that might be flagged as spam.
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Finally, for anyone sending a newsletter: Make sure you include an option for your recipients to unsubscribe. It’s not just about avoiding the spam folder; it’s the law.
Test your email’s spam score
Before you hit send, check out tools like Mail Tester, which allow you to test your email against the most common spam filters. You’ll get a score that shows you the likelihood of your mailing ending up in someone’s junk folder, so you can adjust accordingly.
If you can, get permission to send emails first
The easiest way to get your email into the right inbox is making sure your recipient actually wants or needs your correspondence. I get it—most of us have some need for a newsletter campaign these days. The tips above should help you avoid the spam folder, so please, if any spammers are reading this: Use this guide for good.
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