Why emails go to spam and what to do

  • Why emails go to spam and what to do

Why emails landing in spam (even valid ones)
Have you ever had one of your outgoing emails marked as spam? According to statistics, 53% of all sent emails are spam. As a result, spam filters are becoming stricter, and even legitimate emails can end up in the spam folder. There are some steps you can take to ensure that all your emails are being delivered to the inbox on the recipient’s side. But firstly, let’s discuss what the spam filter is and how it works.

What is a spam filter?

It’s software that identifies and blocks potentially dangerous emails from entering your inbox by using a set of rules and algorithms.

How does the spam filter work?

What a typical spam filter checks for can be divided into three categories:

  • Where the message came from

Anti-spam organizations have created special network lists, which are called RBLs (Real-time black hole lists). A spam filter checks such lists for the IP address and the domain name that the message was sent from. If the IP address matches one on the list, the spam score of the message increases.

  • Who sent the message

Using email headers, spam filters check if the email was sent by a spam engine or by a real sender. Every email has a unique ID, but when the spammers send mass emails, they all have the same ID.

  • What the message looks like

Spam filter analyzes the body and the subject of the email. Strings, which can be identified as spam are ‘buy now’, ‘lowest prices’, ‘click here’, etc. Also, it looks for flashy HTML such as large fonts, blinking text, bright colors, and so on. A lot of spam filters compare the whole text to the number of suspicious words. So, for example, if your email is long, it will not be identified as spam because of a few suspicious words.

We created a list of spam trigger words that can cause your email to be marked as spam.

NOTE: This list is not final and is just an example of some spam patterns. They can constantly change due to the spammers adjusting to the new restrictions on the side of spam filters.

There are several things you can do to improve your email delivery:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information (i.e. the sender, destination, timestamp, routing information, and more attached to an email)
  • The email should be identified as an ad if that is what you are sending
  • Include unsubscribe link
  • Do not use too many special symbols, especially at the beginning or at the end of the sentence
  • Check the formatting. If it is possible, avoid different colors of the fonts
  • Do not use shortened URLs. Those are often used by spammers to hide their real URLs
  • Add text version of an email. When you send HTML emails, include a text version of the email
  • Test email with online spam checkers where you will send your email to the specified address and then check your score
  • Check your IP and domain in blacklists. If your IP or domain is blacklisted you should whitelist it or contact your email service provider before sending emails.
  • Be careful with the images. It is recommended not to send emails with images only. Make sure you have no less than two strings of text to every image and your images are optimized
  • Avoid some types of attachments like .exe, .zip, .swf. It is okay to use .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf
  • Check SPF and DKIM records. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records allow domain owners to publish a list of IP addresses that are authorized to send emails on their behalf. The goal is to reduce the amount of spam and fraud by making it much harder for malicious senders to disguise their identity. Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) helps you protect your company from email spamming and phishing attempts. It provides a method for validating a domain name identity that is associated with a message through cryptographic authentication.
  • Do not purchase email lists. It is common practice to purchase lists of potential clients. However, a lot of email addresses in such lists are not correct and your IP/domain can get blacklisted for mass mailing very fast. It is better to send individual emails to real people
  • Check how your emails are delivered. You can create different email accounts with popular email providers like Google, Yahoo and so on and send test emails to them
  • Send the emails to your clients on a regular basis and instruct your recipients on how to whitelist your email address.
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