I think my emails are going to SPAM… What can I do about it?

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Feb 8, 2023

Hands up if you’re worried about your emails not hitting the inbox…?

This is probably the question we get asked the most in our Mailchimp Answers Facebook group as it’s probably one of the most frustrating things about sending an email campaign and can really affect the success of your marketing efforts.

So with that in mind, we wanted to give you an insight into spam folders, and dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings out there about them.

The purpose of a spam folder

Spam folders are there to do one job – to prioritise your emails and catch mass, unsolicited or dangerous emails sent to your address so they don’t clutter your inbox.

Over the last few years, spam filtering has become even more rigorous as email service providers have been cracking down more on spam to better serve their customers. The problem is that the filtering process isn’t 100% perfect. This means that sometimes legit emails go to spam too.

But more often than not, there’s a reason why your emails are going to spam.

How do Spam filters work?

Spam Folders and the filters that move emails into them used to be pretty simple, but over the years, they’ve become much more complicated – and a bit like SEO – there’s an “algorithm” used to decide if your emails get put there.

This algorithm is obviously pretty secret and is different for each email program, but there are some generally agreed principles that you need to be aware of.

So, why do emails from Mailchimp end up in the spam folder?

Important Note – Everyone’s Spam filter is different.

Firstly, you need to know that everyone’s spam filter is different and unique to their email account – and so just because it goes into one person’s spam folder does not mean that it’s going to everyone’s spam folder.

So, if you test your email by sending it to yourself, if it goes into your spam folder, that is not a signal that it’s going to go into everyone’s spam folder. Likewise, if one of your audience has their email from you go into their spam folder, that’s just for them and doesn’t directly mean it’ll be the same for everyone else.

(so don’t go jumping to conclusions!)

OK… so what matters and how can you avoid the spam folder?

1: Email Engagement

This is key! Spam filters adapt to users’ preferences, so several people marking your emails as spam can lead to your emails ending up in the spam folder. Also, If you have low open rates or read rates, your emails are at higher risk of being flagged as spam.

This is the reason emails you send to yourself may end up spam – because you never open all of them and likely send quite a few test emails to yourself – and as you don’t engage, it’s telling your own spam filter, the emails aren’t good – again, just because it’s happening to one person doesn’t mean it’s happening to everyone!!!

So to avoid people marking your email as spam, you need to do everything you can to increase engagement such as maintaining a steady flow of communication, rather than those infrequent, massive “blasts.”.

Email Deliverability is like an Amazon rating… if someone doesn’t open/click/engage, it’s like getting a 3* review… and if you get too many, people won’t buy.

So if you want a better deliverability rate – send better emails. Simples.

2: Email Authentication

The point of Email authentication is to help ensure that the recipient’s email client knows that the email is coming from a trusted source. If your Mailchimp account is not properly set up for email authentication it’s pretty much like the equivalent of going for a run with a broken leg… you can still do it, but it’s going to be hard…

Plus you run the risk that your emails could be marked as spam.

So, make sure you authenticate and verify your sending domain with MailChimp. Find out how to do this by reading our blog post on deliverability.

3: Email List

The quality of your email list is also a factor. If your list contains a high number of bounced or invalid email addresses, your sender reputation can be impacted, and your emails could end up in the spam folder.

Surely we shouldn’t have to say this but… If you still buy email lists, STOP NOW.

Get cleaning and rid your audience of all that dirty data by following these steps here.

In the long term, ensure new people coming onto your list have lots of reasons to open, read and interact with your emails, (especially the first few that you ever send) which are all good signals to the ISPs.

4: Email Content

The content of your email plays a significant role in determining whether it will end up in the recipient’s inbox or spam folder. Emails that contain spam words or deceptive subject lines such as “earn money fast” or “limited time only,” are more likely to end up in the spam folder. Additionally, emails with too many images or links can also be marked as spam.

Follow these tips on best email practices

  • Avoid spammy words.
  • Don’t have all images and no text.
  • Don’t have links to bad websites.
  • Don’t overdo the caps lock.
  • Lots of explicit “buy my stuff” will also harm you.
  • Don’t overload the email – having too much content will slow the load time.

5: Email Domain Reputation

The reputation of the server you’re sending emails from can also impact the deliverability of your emails. Each IP address has a history that mailbox providers keep track of. If the server has a poor reputation due to previous spamming, your emails could be flagged as spam.

Build a good reputation with inbox providers by being a good emailer.

6: Email Formatting

The formatting of your email is important for deliverability. If your email contains broken links, incorrect HTML coding, or other formatting issues, it could be marked as spam.

Avoid this by using the templates in Mailchimp or having your email professionally designed.


The fight against Spam

No one likes their emails to go to the spam folder so avoid this by ensuring that the content, list, server reputation, formatting, and authentication are all set up correctly. Focus on making your emails engaging and ensure they are relevant and sent consistently.

And finally, don’t check by testing it on your own email – that will have almost no relevance to the real world.

So, there you have it, everything you need to get your emails out of the spam folder.

Email delivery is both an art and a science but armed with a bit of knowledge and a small amount of time you can improve the number of inboxes you hit… and have more people opening, reading, and acting on your emails.

Challenge Us!

If you want someone to help you with your Mailchimp account, whether it's setting it up, reviving it or just keeping it ticking over, don't be shy.

Liz Seymour

Liz Seymour

Queen Chimp Of Marketing

Cheesy as it sounds, Liz is the biz when it comes to  Mailchimp & Email Marketing.

She's worked in Marketing for around 20 years when she went to uni and studied Multimedia Technology…That's where her love affair with all things Marketing began. 

Since then she has worked for household names such as Wickes, The Rank Group, Nuffield Health, Snappy Snaps and Marriot. Not to mention a great variety of businesses and agencies.

Here at Chimp Answers she deals with all things Marketing focusing on the Content and Copywriting side of things such as Blog posts, Emails and landing pages. Liz is Certified in Direct-Response Copywriting, Google Digital Marketing Fundamentals,Hubspot Inbound Marketing,Hubspot Social Media and Mailchimp Foundations.


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