12 reasons why your emails end up in SPAM folders

updated September 9, 2022
Reading time6 minutes
Clayton Quist
Clayton Quist
Customer Service Genie

One of the main problems with the email marketing of various companies is the low email open rate, which leads to a lower conversion rate. This is normally because emails go directly to the recipient’s spam folder. A study carried out in 2015 by the company ReturnPath showed that 79% of commercial emails don’t reach their intended destination.

This means that only one fifth of emails reach people’s inboxes. Most emails are blocked, before the recipient can even decide whether to open them. More rigorous spam filters on services like Gmail and Outlook are one of the reasons why this large number of messages ends up being blocked. Even emails sent correctly run the risk of being filtered.

To stop your emails being caught by these filters, we have listed 12 reasons why your emails end up in spam folders, and how to avoid them. Check them out below!

1. You don’t have permission to send the email

After adding an email address into your database, you need to ask permission to send emails. Most email marketing services have forms that recipients fill in to authorise the receipt of newsletters. It’s also not a good idea to include emails that you’ve been given on business cards, as the recipient hasn’t given digital authorisation to receive your newsletters. Ideally, you should take someone’s email address and send them a link for them to sign up to your newsletter.


2. Your IP address has been used to send spam

It’s possible that, at some point, your computer has been infected and your IP address has been used to send spam. This means that although you’re sending emails legitimately, your IP address has a black mark on it that can hold your business back.

To deal with this problem, use services like MailChimp and ActiveCampaign, as they send emails through their servers, and so have better digital protection against this type of attack.

3. Your email open rate is low

One of the factors used to filter for spam is the open rate of emails you’ve sent. If your emails are consistently deleted before they’re opened, it’s likely that filters will simply start sending your emails directly to a spam folder.

4. People have signed up and then forgotten about your business

Even though they’ve signed up for your newsletter, recipients might still mark your emails as spam. This can happen if they sign up for emails but then forget about your brand. To stop this from happening, make sure your brand is well positioned in the body of the email, and use a font that’s evocative of your company.

You also need to remember to include the name of your company in the subject line of emails. However, it’s possible that a client might still mark it as spam as they don’t want to receive your messages any more. That’s why you need to include a button in an obvious place that lets them stop receiving your emails. Letting them cancel their subscription easily is preferable to continually sending messages to their spam folder.


5. Inactivity in your recipient’s email inboxes

Another big reason why emails are sent to spam folders is a lack of activity on the emails on your list. One of the algorithms used by spam filters checks if the email accounts you send messages to are active or inactive.

The more accounts that are inactive, the more likely your emails are to be marked as spam. To stop this from happening, have regular clean outs of your email lists and program you email marketing service to automatically remove email addresses that seem to have been abandoned.

6. The subject of your emails is unclear

You need to take a lot of care with the subjects of your emails. A dubious email that doesn’t seem to be linked to the content could even lead to legal action. It could also be one of the reasons why your emails are being filtered. That’s why you need to remember to be clear and straightforward in the subject box. Jokes, even with innocent aims, could cause big problems.

Have a look at: 28 ways of increasing visitor numbers and conversions on your online shop

7. Playing with the ‘from’ field in the emails you send

Similarly to item 6, never make it seem like your emails are coming from a different person or organisation. This might not only cause your emails to be marked as spam, but is also considered illegal. That’s why you need to make sure your emails are always in the name of an employee or of your company, or even both. Avoid constantly changing the name.

8. You are not sending meaningful content

If the emails you send to your mailing list are purely promotional, with closing sales being their only aim, your recipients may well lose interest in opening your emails. That’s why you need to invest in the creation of content that your subscriber wants to read, to find out about a particular subject related to your area. You need to find the right balance so your emails don’t end up in spam folders.

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9. Revise your subscription process

As well as creating an authorisation form for sending emails, remember to go through the process as if you were a visitor to the page. Revise things such as the clarity of the text explaining the subscription to the newsletter, and if you’ve got your logo and the right images on the form as well as in your emails.

10. You’ve used words commonly used by spammers

Some words have been so much used by spammers that they are now warning signs for spam filters. Emails with words and terms such as ‘free’ or ‘congratulations’, ‘this isn’t spam’ and ‘great offer’ are analysed even more carefully by filters before they are sent to people’s inboxes, or even automatically sent to spam folders.

Have a look at: 10 best CRM tools

11. The HTML code of your emails isn’t well built

For businesses that only send emails containing text, this isn’t a problem. However, if you send emails with HTML code in them, take care, as a badly constructed code can mean the filters of email services mark your emails as spam.

Good practices for HTML code in emails include: a clean code that is as short as possible, images between 600 and 800 pixels, a mixture of text and images, and emails that are optimised so that they can be seen on mobile devices.

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12. You’ re using a free email service

Even if your business is just starting out, don’t use free email marketing services. All basic plans for site hosting let you create corporate emails, and they aren’t difficult to set up. Before putting your email marketing plan into action, make sure your company has its own email account.


What’s your email open rate like?

Email marketing is one of the main ways that you can give your visitors and clients access to all news and promotions related to your company. That’s why it’s important that you monitor their effectiveness, as performing badly can even have repercussions in future. One way of getting new subscribers to sign up is by using Jivochat’s pre-chat forms, one of the many features of our online chat service!

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