Sending emails that make inbox service providers and customers happy but failing to see any ROI (return on investment) can be a real drag.

You’ve delivered your emails at the right time, given your recipients’ compelling reasons to click, used high-quality visuals, and offered excellent services or products (as some of your customers have vouched for). Also, you’re active on social media pages, posting regular content, advertising online, and more!

So, what exactly is the problem? Our guess is – your emails are landing in the spam folder.

Marketing emails that get straight into the spam folder equal wasted budget, time, and resources.

That’s why, in this post, we’ve compiled ways to know if your emails are landing in spam and a list of reasons why it happens. These will come in handy later when you send an important campaign, and make sure you’ll land in the inbox.

We also share tips to improve your email deliverability. So, let’s dive in!

How Do You Know If Your Emails Are Landing in Spam Folders?

  • Use a third-party tool, like Mailgenius or Mail Tester, to spot technical problems with your email deliverability.
  • Send an email to the address the tool gives (use the email account you think is having spam issues). In addition, use the exact text, photos, and links in the email.
  • Check your score and read the suggestions to improve.
  • View the analysis.

17 Reasons Why Your Emails Go to Spam

1. Inaccurate or Missing Sender Information

Inaccurate or missing sender information can lead to spam issues in email marketing. As a result, your sender information appears in the “From” field when the receiver looks at your email.

Furthermore, if your sender information looks suspicious or contains random characters, your email risks getting flagged as spam. At best, avoid sender addresses that are gibberish or have many numbers.

Stick to either your company name or a person’s name. Not only will it keep you out of the spam folder, but it also makes your email personalized. Given its importance, it’s not surprising that 68% of Americans base their decision to open an email on the “From” name.

The ability to personalize the sender form is perfect if you have clients on your subscriber list who work with an account manager or sales representative.

Aside from saving time duplicating the message body, it’s also easier to measure the effectiveness of client email because reporting is already consolidated.

2. No Physical Address

This may surprise some email marketers, but several countries’ anti-spam laws require companies to send marketing emails with a valid physical address.

For instance, the Federal Trade Commission in the US states that not including a valid physical address (this can be your current street address or a private mailbox registered under Postal Service regulations or with a commercial mail receiving agency) may mean your emails could be marked as spam.

The reason is simple: to have some degree of traceability.

Keep in mind that different countries have different anti-spam laws. However, a physical postal address is often necessary to show recipients that the email comes from a legitimate source.

Moreover, for small business owners who don’t want to advertise their homes to the masses, their best bet is to get a post office box that they can utilize instead of their home address.

3. Contacts Were Not Obtained Organically

One of the worst things you can do for your business’ email deliverability is to send campaigns to a list you have not obtained organically. Some examples are people who did not deliberately and actively opt in to join your mailing list.

When you purchase a contact list, there’s a high chance that many email addresses are no longer in use or are fake. The service provider will flag your emails as spam whenever you send campaigns.

So, although you have acquired 1,000 email addresses, 10% may be delivered. Therefore, such a percentage is not great for gaining new customers or increasing brand awareness.

When does it make sense to purchase an email list?

Don’t get us wrong, though. The purchased email list is not altogether bad. A purchase list can be worthwhile if it contains quality contacts. In addition, there are still reputable data providers out there. They are the ones that provide a guarantee of accuracy and a sample record in your desired industry.

So, if you think your business needs to buy a B2B list to find your footing in new markets faster or expand your reach, we recommend you buy from a reputable vendor. You may have to pay a little more, but such an investment may bear more fruit.

4. Misleading Subject Line

The subject line serves as the gatekeeper of your email. After all, no one gets to read your well-crafted email copy if the recipient is not interested in opening it in the first place. And most of the time, that interest is earned on the email’s subject line.

We’ve written blog posts about crafting irresistible email subject lines. But for a recap, here are our top 7 tactics for subject lines that generate higher open rates.

  • Use numbers – convey a sense of credibility and back it up in the email body
  • Pose a question – make your audience realize they have a problem that needs solving
  • Watch length – keep your email subject line six to 10 words
  • Keep it casual sometimes – change your email format (tone and style included) from time to time
  • Use a pre-header text – take advantage of a summary text to boost the open rate
  • Test new ideas – do an A/B test on your subject lines, like using emojis, if it’s effective with some audiences
  • Convey a sense of urgency – use time-sensitive words (“Fast,” “Never,” “Hurry,” “Ending Soon,” etc.) and action-oriented language

5. Lacks Proper Authentication

One of the main reasons why emails land in spam is because it lacks proper authentication.

For example, imagine people calling you on the phone. If you see a random number, you may assume it’s a robocall and ignore the caller. If the caller is someone from your contacts, you pick it up because you know exactly who is calling.

The same principle applies to emails. However, the good news is some technologies email marketers like you can use to authenticate your emails. Doing so will make you more trustworthy in the eyes of the recipients and the spam filters. The biggest tactics are:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
  • DMARC – (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance)requires you to be already using SPF and DKIM

In this article, we go in-depth on how these three email-authentication techniques are used: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, explained [Infographic]

6. Words or Punctuation Used Seem Spammy

Using words or punctuation patterns that are spam triggers can cause your emails to land in spam instead of inbox.

For instance, the words “online pharmacy” and “lower your mortgage rate” may not be enough to trigger spam filters. However, they can attract attention when these words are combined with other issues on the list. They can land your emails in the spam folder.

Avoid these spammy tactics, like:

  • Lots of exclamation marks!!!
  • An onslaught of emojis (emojis are okay, but do not abuse them)

Similarly, misspelling words or poor grammar can trigger spam filters because many spammers simply use machine translation to translate their emails into English.

Use tools that detect spam trigger words

An easy way to validate your campaigns before sending them is to use a spam checker tool, such as the Mail Tester. Such a tool detects spam trigger words that look shady, unnatural, and over-promised.

Moreover, it is recommended for cold mailers, small businesses, and bulk senders who don’t want to go through the spam trigger words manually.

7. Wrong Type of Links

The primary goal of spam emails is to lure users into downloading an attachment or clicking a malicious link that is harmful to the users’ machine.

So, it’s not surprising that misleading or shady links can get legitimate marketers into trouble and put their emails away from the recipient’s inbox.

Two primary things cause problems here:

First, you can get into trouble, and the email service providers may consider your emails spam if the display URL doesn’t match the destination URL.

For instance, the actual link is, but the display URL is As a result, this will alert spam filters because it tricks people into clicking links. Using URL shorteners may also cause problems for the same reason.

Second, you may be linking to a legitimate website that appears spammy. For instance, the website has been infected with malware or associated with copyright infringement. Or perhaps, it’s legit but close to a spammy domain.

8. Targeting the Wrong Audience

When email marketers fail to reach the desired audience, they lose money. It seems straightforward and obvious, but many marketers miss this mark.

Common signs that your email is targeting the wrong audience include the following:

  • Low visitor-to-lead conversion rate
  • Long sales process
  • The sales team is disqualifying more leads than qualifying
  • Low conversion rate

As for the recipe to target the right audience, we suggest you target your existing list first. Split your recipients into the well-engaged, most-engaged, semi-engaged, and least-engaged. Another strategy is to send emails to audiences who share your value as a brand or to those who connect with your content.

Consider demographics for this. Many factors affect someone’s buying decisions and success in email marketing. You need to understand your ideal customer. Additionally, consider your customers’ location, occupation, interests, gender, and age.

9. IP Address Have Been Used for Spam

Your email deliverability and sender reputation are heavily affected by the online behavior (past and present) of people or businesses you share your IP address with.

So, even if you don’t send spam yourself, your emails could still land in spam if the IP address has been previously used for spam. In addition, this applies when sending your campaigns via an email marketing service.

In short, your email is sent through their servers. If one of their customers sends spam emails, it could impact your email deliverability too.

Don’t worry, though. You’ll be fine if you use a reputable email service provider. For instance, Outlook, SendinBlue, and Hubspot are among the top providers that don’t allow spam links to their server’s IP address.

10. No Opt-Out Link

The CAN-SPAM Act considers email spam if it doesn’t include a way or link for recipients to opt out.

Making it easy for subscribers to leave your list may be a counterintuitive business suggestion. Still, it’s the solution to ensuring your subscribers trust you and that your campaign complies with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Additionally, having an opt-out link sends a message to your subscribers that you have complete confidence in the value of your email. Putting the unsubscribe button in the footer is ideal for most eCommerce entrepreneurs because the text or button placement is unobtrusive to the readers.

11. Too Many Attachments

Avoid attachments like the plague for two reasons.

Firstly, they slow down your campaign email load time, especially if they’re bulky and big. Generally speaking, a commercial email doesn’t need an attachment. All the CTA, offer, and information should and could be included in the body.

Secondly, attachments alert the spam filter and lessen the chance of your email making it to the inbox. For instance, the spam filter may consider that your attachment carries a hardcore virus waiting to overtake a victim’s device.

However, if you need to include an attachment in your email – for example, a video – simply take a screenshot of the first frame of the video. Then, put it into the email body and link that screenshot to where the actual video is hosted.

12. Too Many Images (or Little to No Text)

Incorporating visuals into email campaigns is popular.

Most (55%) B2C content creators consider creating visual content their top priority. So, it’s no surprise why many email marketers want an image-heavy email. Instead, it’s a matter of aesthetics.

Yet, it could be why you’re landing in the recipient’s spam folder instead of the inbox. Spam filters may misconstrue an image-centric email and think that it is from a scammer.

As an email best practice, strive for a 60-40 text-to-image ratio. Your email content is roughly 60% text and 40% image. This formula will put your marketing emails in good shape.

13. Recipient Marked Your Emails as Spam

One of the most apparent reasons your emails land in spam is that your target audience put them there.

So, even if the recipient expressly permitted you to contact them or your content is strong, they may still mark your email as spam to clean their cluttered inbox. In addition, they could have made a mistake and flagged your address as spam.

What happens then is that the new emails you send them will end up in their spam filters. Additionally, many recipients could mark your email as spam if you send mass emails. This can negatively impact your sender’s reputation and increase the chances of your future campaigns landing in spam.

You may also be interested in: How to Send Mass Emails Without Landing in Spam

14. Issues With HTML Email Formatting

Suppose you send emails to users or customers. The presentation of your content via CSS or HTML matters. For instance, you would want your brand logo to appear correctly, your text readable, and your colors to look right.

So, if the content is rendered incorrectly, not only will it be embarrassing, but it could also spell trouble for your email marketing campaign.

What can you do about this?

  • Use thumbnail images if necessary – When the reader clicks on the thumbnail image, link it back to the web version of your newsletter or HTML email. This will help your campaign tremendously because your email content will be seen entirely with images.
  • Shrink the images down – Balance in your newsletters or email so photos won’t overwhelm the text.
  • Avoid sending emails as one image file or big infographic – Email clients look for text in newsletters and emails to decide whether to let the campaign through their inbox. Sending your audience a 100% graphics file may cause your email to land in the spam folder.
  • Pick only the best image – If you have two good images to use in a paragraph of text, pick only the best one. Remember, you can still use the other photo in your later campaign.

15. Incorrect Grammar and Spelling

A lot of spammers are not native English speakers. They may even use tools to translate text to English because spammers can’t waste time on people smart enough to spot their scam. Therefore, you will find various grammatical errors in their email copy.

Suppose you are an email marketer but are uncomfortable with your grammar abilities. In that case, you can hire someone to proofread your marketing emails or use programs like Grammarly to detect basic grammar and spelling errors.

16. Sending to Inactive Email Addresses

Have you received an email from a “Mail Delivery Subsystem” or a “MAILER-DAEMON” with a subject like “Failed Delivery”? If so, it means that the email you sent has “bounced” back to you or was undeliverable.

One of the reasons could be that the email was sent to an inactive email address. Hence, it was not delivered if you’re consistently sending emails to inactive addresses or on a large scale.

So, what is the solution to this problem?

Ensure that you clean your email list and remove inactive addresses. You have two options to prune your subscribers: time-based (number of inactive days) and count-based (number of unopened emails).

Time-based pruning returns people that have not clicked or opened an email in the last “x” days. On the other hand, count-based returns all lists that have not clicked or opened their last “x” number of emails.

17. Resorting to Dirty Tricks

Last on our list of how to know if your emails are going to spam is if you’re resorting to dirty trickery.

This includes misleading claims, hashbusting (putting random characters in the content or subject line, e.g., “Y0.u w1n” or “F.ree. P.r!z.e.”), and presenting the spam text as images to avoid spam trigger recognition.

Tips to Prevent Emails From Going to Spam Folder

1. Target the right audience from the start

We’ve already discussed this earlier. However, targeting the right audience is the best way to ensure your emails will not be flagged as spam.

Fortunately, there are many options you can use to target a buyer persona, including page-level targeting, referrer detection, cookie retargeting, geo-level targeting, and more.

2. Make sure your email is wanted

To reduce the chances that your email will be blocked by Gmail or sent to spam, ensure that the recipient wants the message you’re about to send. This means that the recipient or subscriber agreed to receive such a promotional email.

For instance, an ideal way to achieve this is by putting the consent sentence in your sign-up form.

3. Warm up your sender domain

The practice of warming up a sender domain is most important when you’re changing your email service provider.

Furthermore, warming up a domain and send limited emails for several days until your domain reputation is built or your email delivery is ensured. And while you’re warming up your domain, pay attention to spam complaints, unsubscribes, spam traps, low domain reputation, and open-click rates.

With InboxAlly, you can warm up a domain or IP address. That will reduce the chance of your emails going to spam and increase your open and engagement rates.

4. Maintain a clean contact list

A clean contact list is necessary for a successful email marketing campaign. Remember that about 30% of subscribers change their email addresses as they move from one firm to another.

If a list hasn’t opened your emails in the last year, that subscriber should be unsubscribed from your newsletter because it may later harm your reputation. However, if you plan to migrate from another ESP, do it gradually.

Begin with a small list and gradually grow the email recipients.

Let’s Inbox!

Okay, friends, we hope we’ve covered everything you need to know about why your emails land in spam. We hope that next time you begin writing an email, our list will act as your guide or this content will be helpful to your campaign.

Moreover, if you’re looking for an email deliverability tool to help you land in your recipient’s inbox, don’t hesitate to give InboxAlly a try.

Our hassle-free way of engaging with your emails in real-time will ensure that you not only stay out of the spam folders for good but will also increase your open rates in just one to two weeks!

Thanks for reading!