Email Deliverability

The Art of Email Deliverability: 15 Tips to Stop Your Emails From Going to the Spam Folder

March 18, 20249 min read

The Challenge of Keeping Your Emails Out of Spam

Email deliverability can be a fickle friend and landing in the spam folder is a common frustration among email marketers. It's akin to throwing a carefully crafted message into a digital black hole. 

But fear not! Social Fox Marketing is here to walk with you step-by-step so you can see huge improvements with your email deliverability.

Email Deliverability Best Practices

If you’re unfamiliar, email deliverability refers to the ability of your emails to land in the recipient's inbox instead of in their spam or promotions folder. Third party email providers even break those folders down further to include dedicated folders for newsletters, updates, and more. 

Your email deliverability is influenced by lots of different factors, including your sending reputation, the content of your email, and historically how recipients have engaged with your emails.

When you’re getting started in the email marketing world, it can be a little difficult to navigate the technical and creative elements needed to run a successful email campaign. To make it easier on you, we've compiled a comprehensive list of 15 actionable steps so you can learn how to stop emails from going to spam.

1. Maintain Good Email Hygiene:

Having a large email list is great, but only if the recipients are engaged. Plan to regularly clean your email list and remove the subscribers who: 

  • Have been unresponsive to your emails

  • Have email addresses that are no longer valid

  • Have email addresses that have previously bounced 

Continuing to send to these types of recipients hurts your sending reputation because it shows you aren’t actively managing your list

We like NeverBounce for email list cleaning as they have reasonable prices to validate email addresses and even offer pre-validation so you know you’re collecting accurate emails for your subscribers.

Also, though it may be tempting, avoid using purchased or rented email lists. The engagement on these lists is typically low and purchasing them can be harmful to your sending reputation. 

2. Optimize Email Subject Lines:

How many new emails drop into your inbox everyday? We’d be willing to bet that it’s more than you can count on all your fingers and toes which is why grabbing your subscribers attention immediately makes such a difference in your email open rate.

After all, the subject line is your first impression on your subscriber so you’ve got to make it count! 

Make sure you’re writing clear and engaging email subject lines that grab your readers attention. And while you do want to grab their attention quickly, avoid misleading or clearly clickbait-y titles as many times these ultimately lead to unsubscribes. 

3. Implement Double Opt-In:

A double opt-in is a process to confirm your new email subscribers and ensure that the email address they entered is correct. 

You’ve probably gone through this process more than once when creating a new bank or credit card account. It’s especially important for those services, but there are clear benefits of an email double opt-in for your list as well. 

This method ensures a more engaged and interested audience, which does wonders for your email deliverability and sending reputation.

4. Test Email Deliverability:

When we start working with new clients on how to stop email from going to spam, testing email deliverability is one of the number one things that we suggest for them. 

You don’t know what you don’t know, and using an email testing service shines a light on areas of your technical setup or copywriting that might be lacking.

This allows you to correct and optimize your email before you hit send!

For free options, we like Mail-Tester and MailGenius for checking email deliverability. They’ll provide you with an overall deliverability score as well as specific areas for improvement. 

5. Monitor Sender Reputation:

This goes along with testing your email deliverability, but regularly checking your sender reputation is helpful to understand how email providers view your domain.

Basic monitoring [determining if you are listed on any blacklists or if there have been complaints about your email sending practices] can be done with the email deliverability testing tools we linked above.

Understanding and maintaining a good sender reputation increases the likelihood of your emails reaching the inbox and not landing in spam.

"Email deliverability is an art and science – master both for unmatched engagement.

6. Segment Your Email List:

If you haven’t already started segmenting your email list, now is the time. This allows you to tailor your content to groups of people on your list based on their interests, behaviors, and past interactions or purchases from you. 

This type of personalized content can lead to better email engagement which improves your reputation and generally lowers your spam complaints.

7. Use Re-engagement Campaigns:

We went over the importance of cleaning your email list regularly but before you totally write off those unengaged subscribers, it’s worth a try to run an email re-engagement campaign

Target inactive subscribers on your list with a specific email campaign to rekindle their interest and give a little boost to your email engagement. 

After you’ve run that campaign, go through the process of removing subscribers who remained unresponsive to keep your email list nice and healthy.

8. Avoid Spam Trigger Words:

The number one, quickest way to end up in spam is to write a spammy email. It just takes a peek into your spam folder for a brief lesson in how to stop emails from going to spam and see what NEVER to do in your emails. 

Avoid notoriously cringey words and phrases commonly associated with spam like 'free', 'guarantee', or 'no risk'. These greatly increase the chances of your email being flagged as spam.

We’ve even made it easy for you! Grab Social Fox Marketing’s Spam Words to Avoid swipe file for an easy resource to have at hand when you sit down to write your next marketing email. 


9. Ensure Email Authentication:

While your copywriting has a lot to do with your email deliverability, there are also technical elements that can either help or hurt your reputation. 

Setting up specific records in your DNS settings help lend credibility to your email reputation and verify your emails legitimacy.

We suggest the following records: 

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) Records

  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) Records

  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) records

For the technical setup, It’s best to check with your email service provider for the specifics on setting up these records.

10. Balance Text, Images, and Links:

While large companies have a sending reputation that allows them to send beautifully formatted emails with lots of flashy graphics and multiple link locations, most small businesses don’t start with this same level of email cred. 

At least when you begin, avoid using too many images [really no more than one small image] or link locations [stick to one linked location as well] in an email.

This isn’t forever, just until you build up your sending reputation to support more graphics and links in your emails. 

Curious about when to begin adding in those additional links and images? As with most things in the marketing realm, it takes testing. 

Try it out and if your email open rate drops, there’s your sign you should cut it back and give your email reputation more time to grow. 

11. Keep a Consistent Sending Schedule:

Email service providers want to know that you’re consistently emailing your list [e.g. not just when you have something to sell them in a promotional email].

Determine what a reasonable send rate is for you and your business. For some businesses it’s multiple emails per week, for some it’s once or twice a month. 

No matter what you decide, stick to your schedule and send your emails at regular intervals.

12. Provide Easy Unsubscribe Options:

Unsubscribe options are a little talked about but very important aspect of your email list for a few reasons: 

  • You’re legally required to have an opt-out process

  • Not including unsubscribe links harms your email reputation

  • Leaving out unsubscribe links drastically increases the chances of spam complaints

  • You only want people who want your emails to be on your list, unengaged subscribers hurt your sending reputation

While in the beginning it can sting a bit to see those unsubscribes come through, it’s an important aspect of email list hygiene and ultimately is better for your business in the long run. 

13. Avoid Large Attachments:

Large email attachments can tend to trigger spam filtering but there’s easy workarounds for this. 

If you’re providing a sizable resource or need to send a large file, consider hosting that file on a website instead of sending it as an attachment. 

This can be as easy as providing a Google Drive link to the file in your delivery email.

14. Monitor Engagement Metrics:

At Social Fox we consistently tell our users to make sure they’re tracking their email engagement metrics. 

There’s a wealth of information in those percentages which will clearly show you the type of content that your email list enjoys. 

Pay close attention to your open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates. Generally, these vary across industries and niches but with a healthy list, bounce rates at least should always be extremely low. 

15. Educate and Engage With Your Audience:

Your emails are a way to open up conversations and build trust with your email list. 

It’s okay [and encouraged] to ask your subscribers questions! End your emails with a call-to-action to reply with their answer. Not everyone will, of course, but you might open up conversations that you wouldn’t have previously had with your subscribers. 

In addition to that, ask your subscribers early on to add your email address to their contact list. This is a simple way to ensure that your emails will get seen.

"Cultivate an engaged audience,

not just a list of email addresses."

Leveraging Social Fox Marketing's Resources

Here at Social Fox, we spend a lot of time helping our users dial in their email marketing efforts and boost their deliverability because, as you can see, it’s a bit of an art and a science.

From the actual written word in your emails to the technical setup and the email habits you create for yourself, there’s lots of ways to help stop your emails from going to spam.  

In fact, at Social Fox, we put so much effort into ensuring that our users are at the top of their email game that we dedicate a live Email Marketing call every month to just that topic.

This series is available only to Social Fox users, so if you’re looking to consolidate your marketing efforts through an all-in-one marketing platform, there’s no better time than the present. 

Jump into the Social Fox movement with all the tools you need to effortlessly scale your online business!

how to stop emails from going to spamemail deliverability best practicesTesting email deliverabilityEmail subject line optimizationemail list hygiene
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