To answer this common question correctly, will require some research and probably a bit of trial and error. An important thing to remember is that there is no one fix-all answer. If your emails are getting marked as spam it is probably not just one change that will fix all your problems, but a combination of variables, variables that will take time to take effect. We recommend that you make changes one at a time and monitor what kind of difference each alteration has on your spam rate.
The reason that there is no one fix all answer here is because every recipient’s server is different and adheres to a unique set of spam filtering criteria. And to make things a little more difficult, the server provides no public information about the specifics of their spam filtering criteria for messages received because this information could be abused by spammers.
Spam filters are constantly changing, so this is something that you should always be monitoring. What might end up in a recipient’s inbox today on one server, might be marked as spam tomorrow on the exact same server. The reason for this is that internet service providers are constantly analyzing the new tools and tricks that real spammers are using to get in recipients’ inboxes, so the servers have to try to keep up or even stay ahead of these spammers, so that their user satisfaction stays high.
Your goal of a spam rate should not be 100% landing in inboxes. Inevitably, a small percentage of your recipient list will have your email marked as spam, but that is ok. There are ways to minimize that rate as much as possible, but especially given the amount of fluctuation in spam marking, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate and stay eliminated.
Your rate of engagement, or your click through rate, is across the board a good indicator to servers of whether or not you should be marked as spam. Most all of the major email providers now use engagement based filtering methods. Engagement increases as your recipients interact more with your email by opening it, reading it, clicking on links. As email providers track that information they know that recipients were happy to receive your email and therefore, they allow future emails to remain in the inbox.
Every recipient server is different and may apply different spam filtering criteria for the messages being received. In most cases, recipient servers don’t provide any information about spam filtering to the sender of an email that was filtered. It would give too much information to spammers who would use that data to get around spam filters.
Another very positive indicator to service providers is if your email has been flagged as spam, but users are actively seeking it out and manually moving it to their inbox, the servers know that they made a mistake of blocking your email. If this is a regular occurrence then there is a good chance that settings will be altered to give you access to recipients’ inboxes.
Another good way of increasing engagement is filtering your own recipient email list. If you have inactive contacts on your list that either have changed their email address or have a history of not interacting with your emails, do not wait to remove from your contact list. While you might be tempted to hold onto them with hopes of future interaction, they are dragging down your engagement rate and possibly causing email providers to watch you for spam.
How to Proceed
If you have been blocked/blacklisted or your outgoing emails are going to spam here are the steps you need to make:
- You will need to contact your hosting company and forward them a bounce back email or you will need to let them know that your email is landing on people’s spam box.
- If your email is being blocked or blacklisted, your hosting company may be able to get you whitelisted, but be aware that being completely whitelisted can take up to a few days and there is nothing your hosting company can do after requesting whitelisting.
- If your email is being blocked or whitelisted and your hosting company finds that they cannot whitelist you, then you need to contact the recipient and ask them to whitelist you on their email server.
- If you are landing on spam boxes, you need to contact the recipient of the email and ask them to whitelist you on their email server.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why an email can be marked as spam or even blacklisted from a server. Some of the most common reasons include, but are not limited to:
- You are sending more than 20 emails in an hour.
- You are using your personal email to send out newsletters to your clients instead of using a service specifically created for that.
- There is a virus or malware on your computer or your website that is causing you to accidentally send said virus or malware via email.
Again, spam filters are constantly changing to adapt to new techniques and types of spam messages, so what lands in the inbox today could be spam filtered tomorrow. There are some things you can do to help ensure your emails are being delivered to the inbox. If you are having issues with Spam or Blacklisted emails, give us a call, we will be happy to help!
Written by Nicole Richards