When Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, appeared before the USA's Congress Judiciary subcommittee in July 2020, one question that a Congressman asked was why his campaign e-mails were being sent to the spam folder. It was a weird question to ask, but very legitimate for someone who is not aware of how emails work.

Frustration with e-mail is a common thing. A major one is when you send emails and they are delivered to the spam folder. The recipient will not be notified about them and they are periodically deleted, so chances are high that they will not be read.

Here are some reasons why the e-mails could be going to spam.

When it comes to e-mail, consent is key.

Many unsolicited emails are likely to end up in the spam folder and your e-mail is more likely to be delivered if the recipient has indicated that they know about you. If the algorithms think that the recipient has not consented to receive your e-mails, they will end up in spam.

There are different ways to achieve this.

For newsletters and marketing e-mails, it could be through a double opt-in confirmation where after signing up, the users receive an email with a link to click before they can be signed up for the service.

Personal e-mails do not have this option but one way to escape the spam folder is to request people to email you first. When your reply to an email, it will likely go to the right email folder.

Reputable provider for sending e-mails

Many times, the reason why e-mails are delivered to the spam folder is because of the reputation of the email service provider. This is common, especially where one is using a shared IP address (a common thing when using shared hosting). If the IP has a bad reputation for sending spam emails, your emails are not likely to be delivered.

The best way around this is to avoid sending bulk e-mails right from your inbox and use a bulk email services provider like those offered by Amazon, MailChimp, and others. If you opt to have your mail server, it is highly likely that you will gain a bad reputation once you send many emails within a very short time.

For regular professional emails that end up going to spam, the solution is to go to professional e-mail services such as G Suite and others.

Engagement

Most e-mail service providers track the number of things from a user’s mailbox. If you send e-mails which no one opens, you will be labeled a spammer. On the other hand, if users are opening your e-mails and clicking on the links there or even forwarding the email, mail servers will put you in good books.

Before you send that e-mail, ensure that it is something that the recipient wants to read. If it is some marketing stuff, ensure that you are sending it to people who need your service, otherwise, your email marketing efforts will not last long.

Content

The content of an email determines if it will end up in the spam folder. In an attempt to protect users, email service providers look for certain keywords to ascertain if the message belongs to the inbox or the spam folder.

If your email has phrases such as win instantly, big discounts, last chance offer, absolutely free, bank transfer, etc, it is likely to go to spam. It is assumed that it is either a spam email, or you are working too hard to entice people to open the email which they would not open in normal circumstances.

Best practices

To ensure that your emails are delivered, here are a few things you can do:

  • Get a good email service provider.
  • Avoid sending unsolicited emails.
  • For marketing emails, always give people an option to unsubscribe.
  • Avoid trigger keywords such as sale, offer, free ... etc
  • Only send if it is necessary and relevant.
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