Emails Going to Spam? 12 Reasons Why That Happens and What You Can Do About It

Worried about your emails going to the spam folder? We’ve got
you covered.

In this article, we’re sharing 12 reasons why your emails go
to spam instead of the inbox and what you can do to prevent them
from doing so in the future.

As you’re about to see, you’ll be able to fix most of these
issues all by yourself as they’re directly related either to
what’s inside of your email messages or how you build and manage
your email lists.

Only a few will require some additional help from your

For each element, I’ve also included actionable tips that
along with the  will help you build strong email deliverability
and get your emails in front of your subscribers’ eyes.


Buckle up.

Why emails go to spam instead of the inbox

Why do my emails go to spam?

For many years of internet providing a simple and fast way to
communicate, there has been a great development in the number of
“actors” trying to reach people, that don’t want to hear from

Mailbox providers in a chase of better user experience try to
stop this internet noise by filtering those messages, that are
highly unlikely to be wanted or expected by the mailbox owner.

Spam folder is the “purgatory” of the email flow, and
without it, we all would be flooded in our inboxes.

But no spam filtering system is bulletproof. False positives

Being mistaken for one of the “bad guys” is a reason for
even a good email landing in the spam folder.

When that happens, you need to change its mind.

Martin Schwill, Deliverability Manager at GetResponse

12 reasons why your emails go to the spam folder and what you can
do to stop that from happening 1. You don’t have the permission
to contact your recipients

There’s nothing wrong in wanting a big email list.

Although our studies show that email marketers with the largest
lists tend to have lower
average email open rates
, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that
their potential to generate sales revenue is huge.

But having a big contact list shouldn’t be a goal in itself.
And you shouldn’t aim for it at all costs.

Recent regulations like the GDPR
or the upcoming
have become stricter about how email marketers handle
customer personal information. It’s no longer enough that you
give your email recipients the option to unsubscribe.

Before you start sending your email campaigns, you should always
make sure that you have the permission to do so.

If you neglect that, you’re not only risking that your emails
will be going to spam, but also that you’ll be fined.

That’s why if:

  • you’re still filling your email campaigns with contacts from
    Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIn, or any other place where you’ve
    interacted with people,
  • you’re an ecommerce business automatically adding people to
    your list from the checkout page,
  • you’re using a pre-checked newsletter consent checkbox in
    your web form,
  • buying or downloading email lists from the ‘reputable

…you should stop right now.

There are plenty of perfectly good methods out there you could

And if you’re unsure whether it’s OK to contact some of the
people who’re already in your database, consider running a
reconfirmation campaign. By sending an email that’s going to ask
your audience to continue and stay opt in, you can
be sure that only those who’re still interested in your offer
will end up on the list.

Pro tip 1: If you’re finding consent
management challenging, check out the
GetResponse GDPR fields

These will help you easily store, manage, and view all the
consents that your contacts have given you.

GDPR fields are similar to custom fields that you’re probably
already familiar with, but there’s one significant difference:
instead of editing your consents, you can only create newer

Thanks to this, you won’t end up overwriting your contacts’
permission settings and you’ll know exactly which version of the
consent they’ve given you.

Here’s an example of what you’ll see when one of you
contacts gives you their consent, e.g., when signing up through one
of your landing pages.

How it looks when a contact has given you consent for marketing communication.

Pro tip 2: If you want to stop your emails from
going to spam, make sure to always exclude contacts who haven’t
given you the right consent.

This will help you avoid making mistakes when you’re running
email marketing campaigns that aren’t dedicated to your entire

Here’s how you can do this in GetResponse:

Choosing recepients in GetResponse email database.

To select your target audience, check the box next to the name
of the list or segment you want to include or exclude from
receiving your message. If the same subscriber is present in more
than one list or segment, they’ll receive the email only

On top of using lists and segments, you can also use suppression
lists, where you can store any contacts that shouldn’t receive
your communication. A suppression list won’t be included
automatically, so make sure to include it manually when sending
your email campaign.

2. It’s not clear what your subscribers are signing up for

Transparency is key, especially when you’re building an email

When filling out your signup form, users should be fully aware
of what kind of communication they’re going to be receiving in
the future.

It’s not alright to advertise one service and send emails
about another one unless you’ve specified that in your web

Or to say that you’re just collecting submissions for a
competition and end up using the email database for marketing

Be crystal clear about what you’re going to talk about in your
emails. And then deliver on that promise.

When you do that, you’ll see that your unsubscribe, and
complaint rates will drop.

And as for your chances of leaving the junk folder – they’ll
most definitely increase.

Pro tip 1: Make sure that your web form, the
thank you page following it, and your welcome email clearly state
what your users are signing up for.

Doing this early in the subscription process improves your
chances of building strong relationships with your audience. And,
reducing the likelihood of your emails going to spam.

Example of a subscription confirmation page from Further.

Example of a subscription confirmation page from Further. On
this page, Further reminds their users about the type of content
they’ll receive in the future and how they can make sure they
won’t miss out on the content. By doing this, they’re
decreasing the unsubscribe rates and improving their deliverability
at the same time.

Pro tip 2: If you want to lower your
unsubscribe rate, make sure to fill out the name and description of
your email lists.

This will help your audience decide which lists they want to
stay subscribed to and which ones they want to opt out from.

Here’s what it looks like when a contact clicks the
unsubscribe link in one of the emails sent by the GetResponse
Marketing Team.

They see all the essential information regarding their
subscription. This includes the date of their subscription and the
name and description of the list they’ve signed up to.

Unsubscribe preferences.

3. You’re making it difficult to unsubscribe

This one’s among the top reasons why email recipients report
emails as spam.

If someone wants to stop receiving marketing communication from
a particular sender, the last thing they want to do is to spend
extra time looking for a way to unsubscribe.

The moment they find it difficult or lose trust in their request
being processed successfully – they report the message as spam or
manually move it to their spam box.

In both cases, the marketer is at loss.

Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Burying down the unsubscribe link below the main part of your
    footer (e.g., by adding empty lines on top of it)
  • Hiding the unsubscribe link (e.g., by changing the copy or
    writing in a hard to read color)
  • Making your recipients contact you to resign from the
  • Making recipients log into some form of a panel to unsubscribe
    or change their mailing preferences
  • Taking unreasonably long to process your users’ requests to

Adding any of the above roadblocks just gets you closer to
having your emails marked as spam and having them negatively
evaluated by ISPs spam filters.

Here’s one example of an email I received that’s making one
of the mistakes I’ve mentioned above. Something you don’t want
to do in your own email communication.

Unsubscribe link placement mistake.

Pro tip 1: If you’re worried about your
unsubscribe rate being too high, consider offering your subscribers
a way to opt down and lower the mailing frequency.

A separate email list or segment will be enough for you to
divide your recipients into separate groups, e.g., those who want
to receive your emails every couple of days and those who prefer a
weekly roundup.

Alternatively, you could also add a short description explaining
why the subscriber is receiving your emails and reminding them when
or how they’ve signed up for your newsletter.

Pro tip 2: If you’re seeing that your spam
complaints are high and you’ve followed the tips described in
points 1-3, you could try providing an additional unsubscribe link
right after your preheader text.

This may look like a radical move, but it’s better to have
more people unsubscribing from your list rather than having them
report your messages as spam.

Note: Our observations suggest that people from
particular cultures may have a higher tendency to click the
‘report as spam’ button. One of such countries is Russia, which
tends to observe the highest average complaint rates as we’ve
found in the .

Moving your unsubscribe link to the preheader may be your best
bet if your target audience shows similar tendencies.

4. Your email frequency is off

Emailing too frequently?

People get tired and start ignoring your emails. They stop
engaging with your communication, and because of that, internet
service providers (ISPs) such as Gmail move your newsletters to the
junk folder.

Sending one email every couple of months or so?

People don’t remember you and deliberately ignore your emails
(maybe even mark them as spam). Or they accidentally miss one or
two and lose the chance of seeing your content for several months

As you can see, neither of these options is good for your email
deliverability or your ROI.

The second one’s problematic for yet another reason.

If you have a big email list that you contact only every couple
of months, ISPs might get alerted by the sudden email blasts. Such
spikes in activity might cause temporary blocks, higher bounce
rates, and more emails going to the junk folder.

Pro tip 1: Set the right by putting together
your key email marketing metrics, like the total number of
conversions, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates).

Once you decide on the right email schedule, make sure to
communicate it to your audience, e.g., in your subscription form or
the welcome email.

Pro tip 2: If you want to increase your email
frequency without alerting the spam filters, start by contacting
your most engaged subscribers first. Use suppression lists and
exclude segments less likely to respond to your email

After you’ve managed to successfully engage your best
recipients, you can start slowly including those who read your
newsletters less eagerly.

High email frequency example.

Some email marketers can get away with having high email
frequency. Here, even the name of the newsletter suggests that
it’s a daily newsletter update. Be careful with this approach,
though, as it can easily backfire. Users can get overwhelmed by too
frequent communication. That will result in an opaque churn.
Meaning, they won’t unsubscribe from your communication, but by
ignoring it, they’ll be affecting your overall email

5. You’re not paying enough attention to email list hygiene

Email list hygiene may sound like a funny term. But it’s a
process that can have a massive impact on your email

Email list hygiene management is about identifying the engaged
subscribers, re-engaging those who’ve become unresponsive, and
getting rid of those who hold no business value.

And whom do we mean, when we’re saying that they’re holding
no business value?

Not just people who are no longer engaging with your
communication,  clicked the unsubscribe button, or marked your
emails as spam.

We also mean those who’ve provided a wrong email address or
those who’ve abandoned their mailboxes.

To keep your list clean – and hygienic – you should use
confirmed opt-in (a.k.a. double opt-in) and run re-engagement
campaigns on a regular basis.

Sending a last resort campaign may work even better, if you put
it together with a Facebook or Google Ads campaign.

By doing this, you’ll make sure that your list is clean from
misspelled, inactive, or spam trap emails.

If you’re using GetResponse, this process is simple.

You can run Facebook ads directly from your account. Just select
the list or segment you want to reach with your Facebook ad,
customize your ad, and you’re good to go.

If you’d like to learn about this, read our step-by-step
to designing Facebook ads in GetResponse

Pro tip: If your list hasn’t been cleaned in
a while or you haven’t processed bounces and unsubscribes before,
you should start now.

The best way to do this is to set up an automated re-engagement
campaign that’ll send a couple of emails to those recognized by
the system as inactive.

GetResponse includes
ready-made marketing automation templates
that you can use to
carry out such a campaign.

Engagement and retention in GetResponse.

Here’s what one of such templates looks like:

A marketing automation template from GetResponse.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to choose whether you want
to remove such subscribers from your list completely or try
retargeting them using another marketing channel.

Bear in mind that there’s no set rule for when a contact
should be identified as inactive. This will largely depend on your
sales cycle.

In ecommerce, for example, some recipients stay inactive for the
larger part of the year, but they’ll check their emails for
discount codes and information about promotions around the holiday

Automated email results statistics report.

Take a look at this example report for one of our automated
emails. We send this email to users right after they’ve filled
out the subscription form in the GetResponse Resources. Notice that
the bounce rate is almost 3%, most of which is caused by hard
bounces (misspelled or non-existent email addresses). Removing
these addresses automatically and early into the subscription, will
help you ensure your deliverability is unaffected, especially when
you’re planning some bigger promotional activities.

6. Your emails are image-heavy (and text-light!)

Email marketing is slightly different from other marketing

Although images do play a big role in it, they can’t dominate
your newsletters.

Many email marketers make this mistake: they pack their email
templates with images, to make them look nicer, and spend less time
coming up with the sales copy.

Here’s one such example from a renowned brand. Notice that
even though there’s text in the email body, it’s still part of
an image.

An image-heavy email.

Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Emails Going to Spam? 12 Reasons Why That Happens and What You Can Do About It