Do you know if your marketing emails are going to spam?  We’ll show you how to fix it.

But first, what is spam? Spam email is irrelevant, unsolicited electronic messages sent in bulk to a list of email addresses.

For example, could you assume you bought an email list from an obscure online business? You want to market your business, and that list of emails provides the right business prospects. You intend to email them an offer they can’t refuse. You feel like you’re giving value, but the truth is that this is 100% spam. Since those people never gave you explicit consent to mail them, sending an email blast to that list is considered spam.

According to the most recent data, spam messages accounted for an impressive 59.56% of the total email traffic around the globe.

In 2016, the US accounted for most unsolicited emails, 12.08% of worldwide spam. The most common spam emails were in the healthcare and dating niches.

But sometimes, you might spam people accidentally. Emails are going to the spam folder without you even knowing about it. You may see a constant or sudden drop in deliverability rates and wonder why this is happening to your business.

In this post, we’ll talk about the top reasons why your marketing email might be classified as spam and show you how you can fix it. So, let’s dive in.

1. Check if your domain name is blocked

If you see a sudden drop in open rates, it could be that your marketing emails are going to spam…

First thing – could you check if your domain is blocked?

Blocklist is a list of domains that are suspected of sending spam. Email servers use blocklists to help decide whether to accept or reject an email. If your domain is blocked, your email will never reach the recipient’s inbox because their server will stop every message you send.

Blocklists identify spammers by the domain name or the IP address they use to send email blasts.

A blocked domain can cause problems for a site owner, from low email deliverability to lost Google index rank. It’s a fast process, though, to tell whether or not your domain name has been blocked.

Suppose you’re on a blocklist; some or most of your email will not be delivered. Use a reputable service like MXToolBox to see whether your domain name is listed in one or more widely-used blocklists. You should also check your email service provider’s range of IPs to ensure they’re not listed either.

Emails going to the spam folder - blacklist

If you get a positive, you must remove your domain name from that blocklist. Blocklist removal has to be done manually. Visit the website that has blocked you. Fill out a “remove from blocklist” form or contact the website by email and ask to be removed.

2. Don’t include affiliate links in your emails

Email marketing services typically ban affiliate marketing. Not all email marketing efforts and links are spam. However, major email marketing platforms, like MailChimp, and other smaller ones, like MailerLite, don’t like affiliates. This makes sense because affiliates can sporadically promote spam URLs, harming MailChimp servers and affecting users’ deliverability.

With that in mind, you can still do affiliate marketing slightly differently so that you explicitly disclose affiliate links as required by law.

The safest way to promote affiliate links is to post content on your site. This content can be a review or a use case of the affiliate offer you want to promote. In your marketing email, you can link to your website instead of placing the affiliate link in your email copy.

Let us explain why this tactic works better. Sometimes, your affiliate links might contain URLs that have been blocked. However, if you link back to your website, as with cloaked affiliate links, you rule out the possibility that a blocked domain will harm your open rates. And you don’t want to risk including blocked domains in your email body, not even once. If you do, your email marketing provider will notice, and they might close your account.

3. Avoid using link shorteners

URL shorteners are handy tools that help you convert a long URL into a short link. Such a service is A link shortener is typically used to convert ugly URLs into nice, little ones that fit into a social media post or look nice in an email.

The downside is that, with a URL shortener, you also mask the link’s destination. This way, the user needs to know exactly where they’re headed. A lot of spammers have abused the masking feature. This, in turn, has resulted in mail servers blocking some URL shorteners.

We strongly suggest you stop using link shorteners as part of your email campaigns if you want to stay off the spam folder.

If you need help, you can set up your URL shortener. You can do that by registering a different domain name that is a shortened, witty version of your brand and then connecting that domain to or

Avoid spam with branded url shortener You can likewise use programming tools, like Yourls and Phurl, to create your spam-free URL shortener.

4. Don’t spam people—duh

As an online business owner or marketer, you must accept that spam hurts. It hurts your inbox, it hurts other people’s inboxes, and it hurts your business. This is why strict spam laws are in place, which you must obey.

First, you need to read the requirements for commercial messages. Also, remember that different countries and regions (such as Canada and Europe) have different laws. If your email list includes people from other countries, you’ll need to abide by those different laws.

Don’t buy lists—period. Purchasing a mailing list seems to be a huge time saver. Well, it isn’t.

Buying an email list for several reasons is a good use of money.

First, you cannot trust the source of the emails on the list. Second, the same index has probably been sold to spammers who have bombarded these emails with spam. Third, your email service provider will most likely ban you. Fourth, you might expect a 5% response rate, or hundreds of people will click on your links, but these numbers will be close to zero. If many subscribers complain, your business may face a costly battle with the anti-spam law.

You need to understand that spray-and-pray marketing actions won’t help your business. Spamming can never benefit your business. It can only harm.

5. Set up SPF/DKIM

These less-known settings are crucial to increasing email open rates and avoiding being marked as spam.

Most email service providers have guides on how to set up SPF and DKIM. You must take the proper SPF and DKIM values from your email marketing platform (e.g., MailChimp) and place them in new DNS settings in your domain name registrar (e.g., GoDaddy).

So, in MailChimp, the setting will look like this:

Avoid spam with spf dkim

If you need to understand these acronyms better to have them configured correctly, please explain why you need this.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email validation system designed to prevent spam by verifying the sender’s IP address. An SPF record allows web administrators to designate which web hosts can send messages from a domain.

Simply put, SPF says you are the domain owner and are allowed to contact people using this domain name.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) indicates ownership of the email message by a particular organization. The organization’s signature is added to the email headers while the news is still in transit to the recipient.

Most email clients will check for a valid DKIM signature on incoming email to identify who sent it. DKIM is a way to increase email deliverability and your sender’s reputation.

With DKIM adequately set, the receiving mail server can identify the origin of the email marketing campaign.

6. Are Marketing emails going to spam? Don’t use words that trigger spam filters

As we explained, if you’re on a blocklist, the spam filters will stop your email from reaching its destination. Additionally, spammy words can trigger spam traps. How does this work?

Spam traps will consider a list of factors before deciding your email looks spammy.

If the spam score passes a certain level, the message will be marked as spam and go directly to the junk folder. One factor that weighs into your spam score is the choice of words in the subject line and the body of the email.

There’s no magic formula to the perfect email score—and spam filters don’t disclose their algorithm—but there are certain words you need to avoid.

You can always find the most engaging subject lines in this collection of the most-opened subject lines.


Here’s an extensive list of common spam words you must avoid.

Email copy and images need to refer to your brand and be balanced. Don’t use all capitals and misleading prefixes in your subject lines, such as RE: or FW:. Avoid using words such as free, money, profit, sex, PayPal, loans, winner, and other spammy-looking words.

Keep your emails out of the spam folder.

Your email service provider will probably have a step in which you test your email against spam filters. If not, use a free service like IsNotSpam. Com if you don’t have the budget for EmailReach or Litmus.

It’s a good practice to check your email before sending it to get a clear picture of your spam score. Often, you will see the real reasons why your email is marked as spam, like errors in SPF and DKIM. If you need help, you can always send the IsNotSpam report to the support desk of your email marketing service or an email marketing expert and ask them for more information.

That’s it! We hope this post gave you insight into why your emails go to spam and, hopefully, gave you ideas on how to avoid the spam folder.

If you’d like a more comprehensive look at why your marketing email isn’t where it should be, schedule an Action Plan call with us!