Email Marketing Success – Ten Ways To Keep Your Mailings Out Of The Recipients Spam Folder


If you put out a newsletter or are the postmaster for any type of opt-in emailing list, you know your number one goal is to get recipients to open your email. Of course if your email ends up in someone’s junk/spam folder most people will delete it without even looking at the subject line. First let me just say, this is NOT a how-to manual on sending spam, it is only a reference for legitimate newsletters and marketers to avoid having their opt-in emails blocked by spam filters. There are many mistakes people don’t even know they are making that can get their emails blocked by a spam filter.

All filter software programs are slightly different, however they all use a lot of the same basic principles, where points are assigned to each characteristic that denotes spam and once the point total becomes too high, the message is moved to the junk folder. Here are ten transgressions that have significant points attributed to them, which people commit on a regular basis.

1. Using special characters
Especially in the subject line. Email subjects that look like!!!!this!!!!?? are looked at as either spam or malicious code and are usually sent to the junk folder.

2. Using all capital letters
Especially in the subject line. THIS IS SCREAMING in forum posts, chat rooms and in emails and spam points are added by most programs.

3. Spammy Words
This is probably the most commonly blocked offense. Using words like “Free Money”,”Guaranteed Cash” and just about anything related to pharmaceuticals just to name a few. A link to a list of over 200 of the most highly penalized words is available at the bottom of this article.

4. Only one large image as the body
No text or a large number of images in comparison to the amount of text. Spam filters think of this as an attempt to circumvent their checks and controls and will add a significant number of points to the message.

5. Javascript, PHP or other code
Specifically code that is designed to hide URLs or to send information(with or without the recipient knowing it) is seen as malicious code and the email doesn’t get through the filter.

6. Using an email server that is known for spam
If you are seeing a low percentage of emails being opened by recipients and you can’t figure out why, it’s possible your mail server has been flagged for spam. It’s difficult to measure what a good open rate is, because there are so many variables, however 20-40% is within the average. There are many publicly viewable blacklists where you can check your server and ip address.

7. Obfuscated text/html
This is commonly blocked by most spam filters and many people still don’t understand what it is. Basically it is any attempt to hide text, html or to make code look like it is not code. Or make malicious code so confusing and complex it looks innocuous.

8. Writing that you comply with spam laws
Any mention either in the subject line or in the body that the email is not spam or that this email complies with all spam laws will trigger penalties in many filtering programs.

9. The Unsubscribe message
You always need an easy way for customers to unsubscribe from the list or they will report your message as spam just to get rid of the email. However, the “Unsubscribe” area must be worded in the correct way or you may be penalized. A lot of people don’t know that even saying “Unsubscribe” can cost your message points and you should use terms like “remove me” or “stop receiving” instead.

10. Sender’s account
RFC (Request For Comment) is an internet protocol governing peer to peer computer communications. RFC standards like that emails should originate from a postmaster account (i.e. ( You should also have an account to report abuse ( Spam filters will look for these accounts as well.

Obviously, this is not a complete list of what can get your email blocked, but avoiding these common mistakes will help increase your opening percentage. Also, remember that many spam filtering programs are intuitive and when an email recipient manually flags a message as spam the program can add points against you, your domain, your ip address, and other factors regarding the message you’re trying to send. For the most part, if you accurately describe the contents of your email in the subject line and don’t use deceptive methods within the body, your messages should stay out of spam folders.

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