How to Stay Out of Spam Folders


Email is an important part of any company’s marketing strategy. You spend time designing
the perfect campaign, coming up with great promotions, carefully designing emails and eye catching content, then hit send and wait for the sales to roll in.

But they don’t. What happened? Your messages may never have reached their intended audience and are instead gathering dust in a junk folder, or worse yet, were bounced right back to you. Here’s how to prevent it.

Beware of trigger words! Almost all spam filters are programmed to scan subject lines for certain words and if found, will flag the message as spam. These word lists change often so it’s important to do your research. Common trigger words include “Affordable”, “Hurry”, “Free”, “Congratulations” and any pharmaceutical-related word. Another thing to avoid is excessive use of exclamation points or question marks and the use of dollar signs. There are subject line testing services you can use to make sure your mailings are on the right track.

The body of your message matters too. Messages filled with sloppy HTML or images with no text, written in a bright colored font or in all caps will trigger most spam filters and get flagged.

Messages bouncing back? Read the bounce back message carefully. If any of them state the address is no longer valid, remove it from your mailing list immediately. Errors stating the address is over quota or that there was a temporary server issue can be ignored. If you get any stating you’ve been blacklisted, it will probably include a URL. Go there and follow the instructions to get delisted. What are the most common reasons for getting blacklisted? A high volume of people marking your message as spam, a large volume of mail from your domain hitting a particular server at once, or a phishing attack that’s brandjacked your company are all possibilities. The particular organization or ISP that blacklisted you will be able to tell you specifically what the problem is. Make sure you correct it ASAP!

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Laura · January 19, 2013

    Thanks for the concise info! The article basically includes in a nutshell all you need to do in order to have your message delivered. It’s so simple, yet for many marketers it’s easier to become spammers than to follow these common sense tips.

  2. Danessa · January 28, 2013

    These are definitely great suggestions. I am trying to work on my subscription list plan. Though I have the desire to hire a professional e-mail marketer, I still need to know these things. Otherwise, I would not know how to properly assess their performance. It also ensures that I am not kept in the dark. I for one am apprehensive about mails with attachments. I’ve been burned before. When I opened it, it sent a cascading of e-mails to all my contacts, including e-mails of my clients. It was truly scary and embarrassing all at the same time.

  3. Stephen · January 29, 2013

    You can actually test some of your mails and find out which ones have better click-through rates than the others. As the article says, one of the primary reasons why mails end up in Spam folder even during after signup is because of those trigger keywords. By testing, you can have a general idea what types of keywords you’re using that could be causing the problem. Another option is to tell your future subscribers beforehand that the mail may eventually end up in the Junk Mail folder. Honestly, it should be a common exercise for everyone to check their Spam folder once in a while.

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