How to Keep Your Emails Out of the Spam Folder

How to Keep Your Emails Out of the Spam Folder

Philip Kotler, the father of digital marketing, once emphasized the importance of addressing the concerns of unhappy customers. While engaging with your clients is crucial, you don’t want to flood their inboxes with spam. So, how can you ensure your emails don’t end up in the spam folder? Let’s explore some strategies.

Understanding Spam Trigger Words

Spam trigger words are keywords and phrases that alert email providers (like Gmail, Yahoo, and Zoho) that an email might be spam. When flagged, these emails are sent straight to the spam folder, effectively getting lost. Common spam words include “free,” “act now,” “get rich quick,” and “winner.” To prevent your emails from suffering this fate, it’s essential to avoid these terms.

Common Traits of Spam Trigger Words

According to Statista, more than 46.8% of emails sent and received in December 2023 were spam. Spam-triggering words typically share common traits, making them easy to spot:

  1. Manipulative Words: Overly urgent calls to action (e.g., “Act now,” “Immediate”).
  2. Outlandish Claims: Improbable promises (e.g., “Reverse aging,” “Money-back guarantee”).
  3. Inappropriate Greetings: Impersonal or overly familiar greetings (e.g., “Dear Customer”).
  4. Needy and Spammy Subject Lines: Overly polite or needy language (e.g., “Please open this mail,” “Click here”).
  5. Statements Claiming Non-Spam: Claims that the email isn’t spam (e.g., “Not spam,” “Spam free”).

Types of Spam Trigger Words and Alternatives

Here are some categories of spam trigger words and their alternatives to help keep your emails out of the spam folder:

Sales & Marketing

  • Avoid: “Free,” “Act now,” “Limited time offer.”
  • Use: “Complimentary,” “Contact us,” “Special offer.”


  • Avoid: “Additional income,” “Earn $,” “Million dollars.”
  • Use: “Extra earnings,” “Revenue,” “Significant savings.”


  • Avoid: “As seen on,” “Buy now,” “Order today.”
  • Use: “Featured in,” “Purchase,” “Recommended by.”


  • Avoid: “Cure,” “Guaranteed,” “Instant pain relief.”
  • Use: “Treatment,” “Effective,” “Rapid relief.”


  • Avoid: “Certified,” “Guaranteed,” “No hidden fees.”
  • Use: “Accredited,” “Trusted,” “Transparent pricing.”

Current Events

  • Avoid: “Cash prize,” “Click right away,” “Save save save!”
  • Use: “Exclusive offer,” “Learn more,” “Special discount.”


  • Avoid: “Breakthrough,” “Miracle,” “Secret formula.”
  • Use: “Innovative,” “Remarkable,” “Potential solution.”

Additional Tips to Keep Your Emails Out of the Spam Folder

  1. Get Permission: Never send emails without explicit permission.
  2. Optimize for Mobile: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly.
  3. Avoid Spam Words in Subjects: Keep subject lines clear and spam-free.
  4. Check Your Reputation: Monitor your sender reputation and spam score.
  5. Send Relevant Content: Ensure your emails are targeted and relevant.
  6. Include Unsubscribe Options: Always provide a way for recipients to opt-out.
  7. Clean Your Email List: Regularly update and clean your email list.
  8. Use a Reputable ESP: Use a reliable email service provider.
  9. A/B Test: Experiment with different subject lines and content.
  10. Track Your Results: Monitor open rates, click-through rates, and other metrics.

Final Thoughts

Writing emails that avoid spam triggers is essential for successful email marketing. By following these guidelines and continuously refining your approach, you can ensure that your emails reach your audience and avoid the dreaded spam folder.

For a handy reference, bookmark this guide. If you need additional help, tools like Mail Tester can evaluate your email copy and suggest improvements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between phishing and spam?
Phishing involves malicious attempts to obtain sensitive data, while spam typically consists of unsolicited advertising without harmful intent.

What is a spam filter?
A spam filter is software designed to identify and remove spam emails from a user’s inbox.

What types of spam filters do email providers use?
Providers like Gmail and Yahoo use Bayesian filtering, SPF, DKIM, IP reputation, heuristic analysis, URL reputation, and machine learning algorithms.

What is A/B testing?
A/B testing involves sending different versions of an email campaign to different groups to determine which version performs better.

Do email providers flag spelling mistakes as spam?
While providers don’t flag spelling mistakes alone as spam, frequent misspellings or poorly constructed sentences can contribute to an email being flagged if they are part of a larger pattern of suspicious content.

By following these tips, you can master the art of avoiding spam filters and ensure your emails reach your audience effectively.

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