How to stop marketing emails going to junk.

It’s now easier than ever to design and write a decent email so there are no excuses for companies not using email as an effective comms tool.

It’s now easier than ever to design and write a decent email so there are no excuses for companies not using email as an effective comms tool.

These days, an email marketer’s biggest problem isn’t creating and sending an email. It’s stopping ever more sophisticated junk/focus/spam filters from directing their hard work into the digital equivalent of a black hole.

After all, even a beautifully-designed, wonderfully-written marketing email with a brilliant offer in it is useless if it ends up in here, along with the likes of these gems:

Junk email folder example
As if that wasn’t discouraging enough, statistics show email marketers are facing a big challenge, even if the email gets through to the inbox. To put that into context, the average number of unopened emails every British person has in their inbox is 206. Furthermore, the average number of emails received per person per day in the UK is 88. You’ll agree, the odds are not in your favour.

So how do you make sure a marketing email lands in a recipients inbox?

We’d like to share some tips we’ve found immensely helpful in optimizing marketing email deliverability.

Break large email lists down.

Even the most loyal of customers will have a bad day and hit the junk button occasionally. Although there are lots of reasons to break down email lists (easier on the server, looks less like junk mail etc.), perhaps the most important stems from the above – the provider will see fewer spam complaints together.

Let customers unsubscribe from your emails.

No one likes feeling harassed – not in person, and not online. It’s vital that you provide a clear, easy-to-click unsubscribe link for customers: don’t put it in font that they’ll require a microscope to see and don’t stick it next to another link they’ll accidentally click on instead, because you’ll just end up with a very annoyed customer. And very annoyed customers mean emails end up in junk.

Encourage email recipients to add you as a contact.

As well as giving customers the option to unsubscribe to your emails, you should do the opposite and give them the chance to make friends! A fun message at the top or bottom of your marketing email suggesting that a customer ‘never misses an offer/update’ can help motivate them to add the sender to their contacts list. Once you’re in the contacts list, you’ll never go to junk again.

Get whitelisted by email servers.

It’s not just about getting customers to mark you as ‘safe’; starting from the top, i.e. by getting Hotmail or Yahoo! to whitelist your email address can help bypass their built-in filters. This can be a lengthy process and requires some form-filling, but is ultimately worth it.

Test your emails before you send them.

This may sound obvious, but many people only test their emails internally. Ideally, you should send a test email to a range of email addresses on different servers to determine which send your email to junk. (This also helps determine whether your email is optimised for a range of servers – certain image types such as GIFs don’t appear on some servers). Once you can see you’ve gone to junk, you can begin to determine what it was that sent you there – subject line, content, etc. and fix this using A/B testing.

Optimise HTML codes in emails.

Some servers have built-in detectors for poorly-written code. As anyone who’s ever started to learn HTML knows, sometimes blogs, pages and emails can look fine when viewed in visual format, despite the code looking messy. Email servers can pick up on this and block emails as a result. Ensure you use templates provided by your provider or created professionally to avoid this.

Don't use huge images.

Image-heavy emails work well; there are no two ways about it. However, spam filters are suspicious of emails comprising huge images without any actual text, as spammers often embed words in them which can’t then be read by the filter. Ensure each email contains text as well as images, or you could find yourself unceremoniously junked by an entire server.

Don’t spam – and don’t use spammy language in emails.

Any number of free programs ( can tell you what your email’s ‘spam score’ is, but the basic rules are obvious. Just take a look in your own spam folder for inspiration! You’ll probably find emails in CAPS, emails which shout ‘free’, ‘testers wanted’, ‘special offer’ in every sentence; emails with multiple exclamation and question marks, emails containing words such as ‘Viagra’, ‘Winner’ and ‘Congratulations’ – in short, learn from the worst and keep your emails spam-free.

Email Marketing