Email Outreach: 6 Tips for Avoiding the Spam Folder

As an entrepreneur or business development manager, I know that you work hard on your email outreach campaigns.

You carefully gather your prospects, design your offers, and craft personalized messages.

With the average user receiving 88 emails daily, we'll discuss how to make sure that folks hear from you by actually getting your email into the inbox, instead of the spam folder.

Hundreds of billions of emails are sent per day.

Source: Text Request

According to ReturnPath, about 21% of permission-based emails sent by legitimate email marketers end up in junk folders.

This is bad news.

Additionally, the number of emails that are successfully delivered is on the decline: the global inbox placement rate decreased by 4% from 2014-2015. See the infographic below.

Source: optinmonster

It seems that every day, spam filters and ISPs relentlessly work to make it harder for you to reach your audience.

So, it's important that you understand some factors that can get you flagged, plus a few email spam tester tools to help you on your way.

Below, let us talk about actionable tips to avoid the spam folder.

Keep Up With The CAN-SPAM Act

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the CAN-SPAM Act is "a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations."

A few key points of The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 law include:

  • Never use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.
  • Always provide an unsubscribe link.
  • The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending.
  • You must include your physical mailing address.

Your Email Features Spam Trigger Words

One of the quickest ways to end up in a subscriber's junk or spam folder is to fill your email up with words, symbols, or phrases that trigger spam filters.

Too bad, because your potential leads and repeat customers who want to engage with you miss out on your content--just because of trivial word choices.

Watch out! It's not just the subject line of your email. Don't forget to apply the same principles to the entire email's content.

According to Reuben Yonatan of boomtrain, "There are numerous categories of spam trigger words, including those like sale, % off!, and certain hyperbolic adjectives. It's best to keep several lists on hand and consult them for every subject line you write."

Switch it up and stop using those tired old phrases that'll get you sanctioned. Instead, be informative, interesting, and creative, while providing value.

Having trouble coming up with compelling subject lines? Kam Jennings of Epic Conversions offers some inspiration, which include:

  • "Hi [name], [question]?"
  • "Did you get what you were looking for?"
  • "You are not alone."
  • "Feeling blue? Like puppies?"

A good subject line is a huge factor for guaranteeing that you don't end up as spam. You also perform better, with higher open rates.

Mailchimp shares these subject line tips:

  • localized content such as a city name,

  • lines shorter than 50 characters,

  • and phrases framed as questions.

You've Made Use Of Purchased Lists

Purchased lists either send your emails straight to junk folders, or brand you as a Spammer.

Don't risk it.

It's easy to be tempted to grow your list by an instant million potential customers.You've probably seen the forums where a few bucks can get you thousands of "targeted leads".

According to Maciej Ossowski of kissmetrics, "Purchased lists are ticking time bombs, waiting to devastate your reputation as a sender. Riddled with dead emails and spam traps, they quickly inform mailbox providers that you break the rules by sending unsolicited emails."

You Have Little Engagement From Subscribers

This means that you have mailing list subscribers who rarely open your emails.

Low inbox placement affects 19% of emails. It's the third most common cause of raising a red flag to mailbox providers and their spam filters.

Source: optinmonster

According to Mary Fernandez of optinmonster, "To prevent this, clean your email list periodically of any subscribers who haven't engaged with your campaigns in a while.Your email service provider may also include a feature to automatically purge any emails from your list that look like abandoned addresses."

Think about this: your newsletter's performance affects lead generation.

You would want to think about email deliverability in general, no matter if you send messages for sales or as updates to your subscribers.

The Email Is Not Personalized

If the email is not personalized in the least bit, it may be mistaken for spam.

Instead of generic emails, take the time to make each email fit the receiver.

A personalized email is more likely to end up in the inbox, with an analysis report by adestra claiming that personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Emma Brudner of Hubspot says, "Failing to use the recipient's first name is a dead giveaway that this email was not intended solely for them. If you're working from an email template, double and triple check that you've filled in the correct name at the top, or risk getting sent to the spam graveyard."'s mail merge would help you personalize your messages.

If you are not yet familiar with mail merge, this feature allows you to send messages in bulk, while personalizing different fields like the receiver's first name and company name.

Also, note that's mail merge includes multiple stages. In other words, your personalization would be applied to automated follow-up emails as well.

This balances your email deliverability and likelihood of getting a reply.

Test Your Deliverability/Spam Score With Tools

Take your pick out of the number of free or freemium online tools that can help you with testing your spam score.

Before clicking on the send button, make sure that you won't get sent directly to the Spam box. You don't want to potentially risk your reputation, damage your subscription base, and ruin your campaign.

It is not enough to just write a copy and create an email template. Sending emails without proper testing can completely ruin your campaign and even damage your subscription base.

According to Cathy Patalas of Woodpecker, an untested email can lead to:

  • high unsubscribe rate: nobody wants to continue receiving clumsy and awkward content in their mailboxes;

  • credibility damage: you don't want people to think that you are unprofessional enough to send a weird-looking and therefore brand damaging email.

Glock Apps

Glock apps is a very interesting tool. It's based on a simple premise, which lets you check how major email hosting services render your email content and its deliverability. These email services include Gmail, Outlook, GoDaddy, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Apple.

Source: Digital Doughnut

You will also receive a report on the message in the Glock Apps dashboard.

In this report, you'll find the average delivery rate listed for all the tested hosts.

Source: Digital Doughnut

Source: Digital Doughnut

Roland Pokornyik of Digital Doughnut says, "An interesting feature this tool also has is the suggestions of possible reasons that may negatively affect deliverability. So as a user, you get a set of hints on your content and email settings, which you can start from on the way to improving your delivery rates."

Mail Tester

Source: MailPoet

Mail Tester is a tool that lets you check your spam score for free. It calculates your spam score, and whether you've been blacklisted, as well as your DKIM, SPF record, and keywords in your email.

If you're a premium user, you can easily test your score while editing a message. Simply click on the button "How spammy is this newsletter."


With Litmus, you can avoid broken emails.

They also provide a subject line checker to see how your subject line and From label appear in several landing page links, email programs, and HTML analysis, too.

It isn't easy predicting circumstances that'll affect your inbox placement.

Spam filters are ever-evolving.

However, when you keep up with the CAN-SPAM Act, create great personalized content, and stay in tune with your subscriber's needs, you'll see that more and more of your emails find their way home to your customer base's inbox.

Pro TIP:

Generic short link services are used by millions of people but, in recent years, they have become associated with spam and malicious content and can be blacklisted so, if you use them, this will impact your email deliverability negatively.


However, if you use branded links, which feature your own domain, this isn’t an issue. Nobody else will be able to create links using this domain, so it won’t become associated with spam or malicious content.

Use Rebrandly URL Shortener to create on-brand, trustworthy links that showcase your brand’s name and boost the deliverability of your marketing emails.

Over To You

You want to avoid landing on the dreaded spam folder.

More than wasting time with emails that don't go through, it affects your deliverability in general. You do not want to build that kind of reputation with the internet's algorithms.

Overall, you want to write thoughtful emails. Think of how you communicate with your own friends and family.

I know that mass mailings do not have the same luxury, but what is the point of sending more emails if they are not going to be effective? Worse, they affect your brand's reputation. is built to help you avoid Spam filters and send thoughtful email outreach campaigns with Gmail. FREE: try the Chrome plugin today!


By Allan