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What causes email marketing messages to go to spam folder?

By Kaunda Ibn Ahmed
Article What causes email marketing messages to go to spam folder?
DEC 3, 2022 LISTEN

There are Social Media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and many more. There are also instant messaging apps like Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. Do we still need to target customers using email? Why do we still need email marketing?

The reason is simple: for over 10 years in a row, email marketing generates the highest Return on Investment (ROI) for marketers and companies. According to Direct Marketing Association (DMA), for every 1$ marker spend on email, the average ROI is $38. It is therefore not surprising that global email users are expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2025.

Considering the above, it will be a great financial loss if after all the effort put in, your email lands in your potential customer’s spam folder. To avoid that, below are 16 reasons why email goes to the spam folder and what must be done to avoid that.

  1. Physical Address: Email filters expect you to have the “Post Office Box XXX” in the email content. The filters scan for that address, and if they do not find it, they assume you are a non-existing entity. A physical address is a sign that the person or business exists. For email marketing, put it at the footer section of the email template, and for normal email, you will send from your inbox, you can add the address to your Email Signature.
  2. Crow Verification: Email filters take into consideration what other recipients are saying. For instance, if your email is marked as spam for recipient 1, it is likely it will be marked the same for recipient 2 and any other. To avoid this, send emails to people who have agreed to receive emails from you, and make sure you send an email with valuable content.
  3. Low engagement: Consider a platform like Telegram. It has a channel for one-way communication and a chat for two-way communication. For one-way communication, the sender sends a message, but the recipient cannot reply. For two-way communication, the message can be sent in either direction. Email is considered a two-way communication channel. So, if 'Sender A' sends 'recipient 1' an email, 'recipient 1' must reply or take some action like clicking a link in the email. Failure to do that, consecutively, can trigger email filters and subsequent emails from 'sender 1' to land in the 'recipient 1' spam folder. To avoid this, send emails to people who have agreed to receive emails from you. Also, make your email content engaging; ask questions that require replies, and add a 'Call to Action so that there will be something in there for them to click. Clicking a link in the email is also considered “engagement”.
  4. Blacklisted Domain: For those using custom emails such as [email protected] or [email protected], the email could land in the spam folder if someone had some time back used the domain Asumasi.com or sikapreneur.com for questionable activities such as fraud. To increase the reputation of such a blacklisted domain, send an email to friends and ask them to mark it as “not spam”. Also, let them add your email to their address book. The engagement your friends will create with you can increase your domain’s reputation. Also, check whether the domain you want to purchase is blacklisted or not. You can use a tool like mxtoolbox.com to check if a domain is blacklisted, why it was blacklisted, and what you need to do to whitelist it.
  5. New Email Address: Fraudsters create new email addresses every day. Sometimes they operate about 10 email addresses concurrently. Once they finish that operation, they abandon all those email addresses and create new ones for new operations. For example, a fraudster who wants to operate like a poultry farmer will create a poultry farm website (e.g.: DeloPoulteryFarm.com), with a corresponding email address [email protected] or [email protected] These email addresses will then be used to fraud a possible investor and once the act is done, the address will be abandoned. The basic idea here is, fraudsters do not use email addresses for long, and this has been factored into how email filters work. New emails, therefore, have a high probability of landing in the spam folder than older email addresses. If this is your challenge, then keep using the email address, and keep creating engagements with it. You will be whitelisted later.
  6. Improper fraction: There are email templates that help to design the structure of email content for marketing. These templates use formatted text and images to create an email layout. The more images and formatting in the content, the more suspicious it becomes. To overcome this, apply the 80-20 rule. Thus, for every email you create, at least 80% of the content must be text (standard text), and the remaining 20% can be images or formatted text. Also, use a reasonable number of links in your email. Too many links signal a red flag.
  7. Sending attachments in a bulk email: Most likely, you would like to add an attachment to one of your email marketing campaigns. It is a good thing but make sure you do not overdo it. Do not attach huge files or many files and do not do it too frequently.
  8. Spam-triggered words: Words or phrases such as Buy Now, 100% Free, Nigerian, Winning, Act Now, Apply Now, Limited Time, etc. are spam-triggered words. Using such words increases the chance of your email landing in the spam folder. Note: This does not mean you should never use such words. The filters are intelligent. They can analyze such words in the whole email content. Use them cautiously.
  9. Misleading titles: A statement like: “This email is coming from Obama, the former President of the United States” will push the email to a spam folder. To solve this, do not lie in your email. Do not pretend to be who you are not. Do not impersonate any celebrity or public figure. That can send your email to the spam folder.
  10. Grammatical errors: Avoid simple grammatical errors. That can send your email to the spam folder too. Also, do not use all capital letters, all small letters, or unnecessary exclamation marks and emojis. Mailchimp, for instance, suggests only one emoji in the subject headline.
  11. Inactive email: People who do email marketing campaigns must note that too many inactive emails on your list can cause your emails to land in the spam folder. This is because inactive emails increase your bounce rate (the number of emails that are not delivered). To solve this, clean your email at least once a year or once every six months. Email all those who are not opening their emails. Ask them if they are no longer interested. If you do not get a reply from them, delete their email from your mailing list. It is better to have a small but active mailing list than a large mailing list with a lot of inactive emails.
  12. No option to Unsubscribe: Yes, if you do not provide the means for your subscribers to Unsubscribe from your mailing list, it can cause your emails to be considered spam. Make sure your email template has an unsubscribe link at the footer. Also, do not make Unsubscribe a complicated step. Once the subscriber clicks on it, unsubscribe him or her and delete the email from your mailing list.
  13. Un-Personalized emails: Yes, addressing your recipient as Dear Sir, My Friend, Hello, instead of Dear Ama, Hello Kwabena, Hi Asumasi can cause your email to land in spam. Addressing them with their name makes filters believe you know the person. Therefore, it is important to gather both names and emails when building your mailing list. You will use the name to address the recipient.
  14. The email contains links to fraudulent websites: If your email contains links to fraudulent or broken links, the email will be considered spam. Make sure all your links are active and not spam links.
  15. Untrusted Email provider: Certain email providers have been considered the “root of all fraudulent emails”. A typical example is “mail.com”. Mail.com provides all sorts of email extensions. For example, I have the email [email protected] Now, what presidency is that? You can also have emails like [email protected], [email protected], etc. This creates the impression that the person you are dealing with is a banker or accountant. This is false. In my book, Who Scams the Scammer, for instance, the fraudster by the name Alhaji Ojekwe Human was using the email [email protected], where IDB means Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Sending emails with such addresses will land them in the spam folder. In fact, on certain platforms, you cannot even use any email from mail.com to create an account. Avoid such emails.
  16. Shared IP: For shared hosting accounts, two or more domains may sit on one IP (Internet Protocol). In that case, another domain can misbehave, and you will get punished. So, when checking if you are blacklisted, check both the domain name and the corresponding IP. To avoid this, you can go for a hosting subscription where you have a dedicated IP. That is costly, but once you decide to do professional email marketing, you need that badly.

To conclude, once you decide to do email marketing, you must make sure your efforts are not in vain, through specific practices that will land the email in the spam folder. Follow the above techniques and your emails will land in the Inbox. Once it lands in the inbox, the Subject line will determine whether the recipient will open it. My next article will explain exactly what needs to be done to the subject line so that you will get a high open rate and click-through rate.

You might also find the articles on my website (OnlinePresident.org) helpful, especially those relating to How to Start Online Business in Ghana.

Author: Kaunda Ibn Ahmed (Online President) | Member, Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana, Communications Team

For comments, contact author [email protected]

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