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Stop Spam

Why Are My Emails Going To Spam? – How It Works?

Most often we get customers who complain that their emails are going to the spam folder. Even a simple “Hi” to a known contact ends up in spam mail. They often ask us, why are their emails going to the spam folder. how do they not end up in the spam folder? and how can SmartReach.io help? Before I answer those questions there is something else I would like to touch base upon. If you are doing cold emailing or email marketing, it is extremely important that you know how email spam filters work.

Before I dive into the functioning of spam filters, a general disclaimer, it’s key for you to understand that no one can exactly pinpoint a spam filter’s functioning. Based on learnings from multiple industry experts, and after analyzing the data of millions of emails, we can tell with some degree of accuracy how they function.

Spam filters of different email clients work on advanced AI and ML algorithms. A few years ago, when talking to a couple of Microsoft Research team members who were working on Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing I learned that they have algorithms to detect patterns, summarize the content, and can do sentiment analysis on whether the content in an email is spammy or promotional in nature. They work on huge databases which helps them to train their machines very fast and improve their efficiency in a shorter time.

Email spam filters also check for a number of things like:

  1. IP Reputation
  2. Domain Reputation
  3. Sender’s Reputation
  4. Sending Infrastructure (SPF, DKIM, DMARC)
  5. Volume (frequency and sending limits)
  6. Spam Complaint Rate
  7. Hard and soft bounces
  8. Email content
  9. CAN-SPAM Compliance
  10. Blacklisting
  11. Click Tracking
  12. Email Warm-up
  • IP Reputation: Whenever you send an email, it’s routed through a mail server. And every email server on the internet has an IP address associated with it. When you send an email, it contains the IP address of your mail server and goes to the client. Whenever the spam filters notice that an increasing number of emails coming from a particular IP are spammy in nature or being marked as spam or violating the guidelines, it would start decreasing its reputation. Cold emails coming from that IP are marked as spam if the reputation comes down below a threshold. IPs with poor reputations may not be accepted by the recipient and might give you a higher bounce rate.
  • Domain Reputation: When you send emails with your domain, let’s say xyz@yourdomain.com, there is also a reputation associated with “yourdomain. com” and spam filters check for this reputation before classifying your emails. Like the IP reputation, the domain reputation also plays a role in the classification of your email as spam or not. There is a high chance to end up in the spam folder, when more emails from your domain are marked as spam or if they have spammy content.
  • Sender’s Reputation: Some spam filters score your email address with a sending reputation and this depends on the number of emails that you are getting engaged with (open, reply and bounce rates). When you create your email for the first time you have a neutral sending reputation and as you send emails to your prospects, depending on how your prospect engages with them, your sending reputation increases or decreases. You need more of your prospects to engage with your emails for a better sending reputation. If you are sending to unknown people it is always advisable to clean your email list i.e validate your emails before you send because if there are inaccuracies in your email list it might bounce and a higher bounce rate also affects your sending reputation. Hence it is always advisable to warm up your campaigns by sending fewer cold emails initially and slowly increasing the number of emails you are sending. With a low sending score if you are sending more emails, then there is a higher chance of your emails getting throttled or ending up in the spam folder. Software like SmartReach provides built-in systems that allow you to warm up your campaign
  • Volume: G-Suite officially says that you can send 2000 emails per day but after analyzing millions of emails sent from Gmail, we have noticed that there is a higher chance of reaching the primary inbox, if you send less than 500 emails from Gmail.  Sending under 500 emails with 40–50% open rates is way better than sending over 1000 emails and having 10–15% open rates.
  • Having the right personas on the List: At the time of creating the email list, you need to ensure that the email list consists of prospects who might be interested in your proposal. If your prospects don’t find your proposals as something they would be remotely interested they might mark you as spam. It is a big no in cold emailing. You should have sufficient info on your prospect’s background before reaching out to them. One other thing is that you should validate the email ids of the prospect. Sending emails to invalid email ids would result in a higher bounce rate. Having a higher hard-bounce rate indicates that you are guessing the emails. This reduces your sending reputation because spam filters act against name-space mining. Tools like SmartReach provide free email validations in all the plans.
  • Authentication: Having SPF & DKIM authenticated, and having your DMarc records updated is extremely important for spam filters to know that a person who is designated to send from that domain is actually sending email and it is not a phishing email. Emails that do not pass the authentication have a higher chance of being marked as risky or spam.
  • Spam Complaint Rates: Spam filters have been most ruthless on this particular aspect in their quest to reduce spam. If you are sending cold emails, make sure that the information you are giving out is relevant to your receiver. If it is not, there is a high chance that they might mark you as spam. In order to reduce the number of complaints, give your prospects an option to opt-out / unsubscribe from your campaigns. And this should be of least resistance to them. Most spam filters have little leniency as far as spam complaints are concerned. For certain spam filters, getting more than 20 complaints for every 5000 emails your emails will end up in spam. This rate might differ for email clients Gmail has been sending the reason for a mail it sends in spam. If your email has been marked as spam by your prospects, then it says: “Why is this message in spam? Lots of messages from “somesamplewebsite. com” were identified as spam in the past.”
    Having an opt-out /unsubscribe link should be a must if you are cold emailing.
  • Content: It is important that you don’t go for templates from the web and use them for your campaigns. Because a lot of people might have already used and abused it. Spam filters also match the content. If it finds similar content which was marked as spam earlier then it will send your emails to the spam folder with the message: “ Why is this message in spam? It is similar to messages identified as spam in the past.” I have personally tested a lot of use cases in this regard and have seen having certain keywords in your email or how using templates would send emails to the spam folder. Remember, never to use the same subject line for a very long time, it is always advisable to change it regularly. If you do all the above things right and spend a little extra care while doing cold emailing, you would reap much better results. After all, getting results is more important than just sending more emails and ending up in spam.
  • CAN-SPAM Compliance: Adding an email signature is an important part of business communication. The number, address, and company’s social profile should be included in the signature. A valid address is required for CAN-SPAM compliance and a signature is an obvious space to include the information.
  • Blacklisting: Some of the IPs or domains might be blacklisted due to the frequency of the emails sent out being marked as spam or deleted without opening. Regular checks should be done to ensure your company is not listed under the blacklisted domains. SmartReach.io provides free spam test reports that highlight issues and recommend fixes.
  • Click Tracking: When click tracking is turned on, spam filters know that tracking is being used for your emails. As a best practice, tracking pixels or link tracking should be used only if understanding in mail engagement is absolutely necessary.
  • Nowadays, it is possible to generate positive engagement with email warm-up tools like WarmupHero. They help you with bettering your email reputation by automating a series of actions on your email account. Many have also got their email out of spam after using these tools.

In conclusion, sending cold sales emails is a necessary part of every B2B organization so as to acquire more clients. In this process, evading email spam filters becomes quite challenging. However, following the described steps, the limitations can be reduced. Now that you know how to avoid getting your email into spam filters, it is time to put your learning into practice and make a high chance of landing in your inbox. Hope you have now figured out the answer to your question, “Why are my emails going to spam?”

SmartReach.io is software used by many enterprises so that they have more emails delivered to the prospect’s primary inbox and not the spam folder. Its human-like sending and conditional personalization features can make every email dynamic. So if you’re looking to automate sales outreach, reduce cost and increase productivity SmartReach.io is the tool for you.

Akhilesh Betanamudi

SmartReach.io: An outreach platform for growth teams. Book 3X more sales meetings.

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