5 Reasons Why a Message Is Flagged as Spam

mark as spamSome anti-spam filters rely solely on technology to do their jobs. This is adequate for stopping many of the malicious emails that are out there, however this method fails to take into consideration one of the greatest tools there is when it comes to spotting harmful or junk email – the human being.

People not only have the ability to learn how to spot illegitimate emails, but they have the ability to read into the context of the message as well. They can evaluate what an email says more accurately than any algorithm out there.

Some organizations have realized that the human element can be one of the best additions to their email security solution so they opt to use technology that interacts with the users; accepting the users input and learning from them. But just what is it that makes a person decide if an email message is spam or legitimate? Many different marketing groups have looked into what makes a person complain that a message is spam because generally their mailings make it through the spam filters as recipients often sign up to receive emails from them in the form of newsletters, product updates or even sales. However when these requested emails are nothing more than junk, a once qualified lead quickly turns into an irate ex-customer because they feel that they are being spammed, and here is why.

Low quality content. Spam comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we subscribe to a newsletter or a web site thinking that we are going to be getting some good information only to find out that the email they are sending adds no value. One of the primary reasons that users start marking messages as spam is because they do not feel that the content they are receiving is worth the time is takes to read it or the content is not what they expected. This frequently happens when a newsletter tries only to sell instead of inform.

High frequency of mailings. Some people are comfortable with weekly emails, especially if they provide the recipient with something they can use. Others are more comfortable with a once or twice a month schedule. When emails come once a day, or even several times a week, people know right away that it is nothing more than spam.

Pitiful subject lines. Nothing screams SPAM more than a bad subject line. Check this out, You’re not going to believe this, Wait ‘till you see this are all examples of subject lines that many recipients loathe. Why? Because they don’t have any substance to them; they don’t tell the person specifically what this message has to offer them. Good subject lines should come right out and say something, not try to be mysterious.

Lack of two way communication. Social media and blogs are vital to customers nowadays because they encourage a conversation. For many companies, email has lost that. When recipients cannot communicate with the sender of an email it tends to send the wrong message. Hitting that Mark as Spam button happens quite frequently when a recipient feels like they are being forced to listen without the opportunity to talk.

Lack of personalization. When an email’s content tries to reach too broad of an audience the more savvy recipients will send it right to the trash immediately. Others will probably let the emails keep coming until they realize that the content only addresses a bit of what they want and never goes into specifics. Email can be sent to distribution lists so that a large group of people can be given information all at once however, when the information comes across as generic people start to look for other sources that can meet their next level of needs.

Email is a great way for people and organizations to communicate, but it has to be done the right way with the recipient in mind. Failing to do so will eventually cause these messages to be lumped in with all the other spammers out there who give us nothing but junk.

Written by Jeff


  1. Cass · February 28, 2013

    No spam filter can be made perfect. I usually compare spam filters to search engine technology. No matter how you fine-tune the algorithm, it will never have the perception of a human. As far as I know, some time ago Google started using humans as evaluators of page relevancy. This must be lots of work and I can’t imagine it for spam filters but even if we could use people to check spam, I doubt the result will be much better.

  2. Lydia · March 14, 2013

    This is actually a very interesting list, something that should be seriously considered, especially by e-mail marketers. Based on a credible study, the volume of click-throughs had substantially decreased last year; and the causes are very varied. The list may explain some of them, including terrible headlines, poor content, and too much e-mails. But I also think that some systems are plain too stringent. Their rules are so tight that it prevents a lot of real e-mails to get through the recipient. System administrators should also learn how to strike a good balance when it comes to these rules for the filtering tactics to truly work and be beneficial to all.

  3. Arnold · March 26, 2013

    I noticed that in Gmail, some of your newsletters can end up in spam if you stop reading it for days. For example, if company A has sent you more than 5 e-mails for the last couple of weeks and you didn’t open even one of them, then the next e-mails will already be in spam. This actually happened to one of my subscriptions. Because of the volume of mails I received on a daily basis, I wasn’t able to read a lot of their mails. When I noticed that I wasn’t receiving anything from them anymore, I got curious and checked my Spam folder. True enough, the new ones were there.

  4. Leigh · May 2, 2013

    I often get emails with pitiful subjects. I received one 3 months ago. It originated from China and was supposed to be from my friend Candy, who worked in China 3 years ago. It said that she had problems with the immigration officers in Malaysia and that she needed $1,200 so she could be “rescued” from the immigration officers. Some of my friends almost sent money. It was a good thing I told them that Candy and I were just together the day before! We need to be extra vigilant in determining which are legitimate mails and which are spam.

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