If your recipients never see your emails in their inboxes, then the time and effort you spent developing and managing your email marketing campaigns were simply ineffective.
Email deliverability is described in the following way by HubSpot:
the evaluation and knowledge of a sender’s success in reaching recipients of their marketing message.
Thankfully, you’re in this place! The information you need to know to ensure that your emails get to the inbox and not the spam folder is provided in this guide.
Spam Filters 101
The Gmail Mail System is contacted or communicated with when you send an email to someone, let’s say to a Gmail account. And Gmail, like all email service providers, has what is known as “SPAM Filters,” an extra layer of security that guards against fraud and spam messages. Look at the illustration below:
So as you can see, whenever you send a message to a target mailbox, the mail server will filter the message using the spam filters and determines whether it’s a spam message or not.
How do Spam Filters work?
You just need to get past spam filters in order to deliver emails straight to the inbox! We also need to be aware of how spam filters operate in order to avoid them.
In order to filter emails, Spam Filters were set up to adhere to specific guidelines years ago. Including email image ratio, blacklisted sites, spam keywords, sender reputation, volume…
NO, I’m not claiming they aren’t factors any longer. However, technology evolved, and spam filters underwent changes.
Spam filters are intelligent today. The new machine learning technology allows it to learn!
So Spam Filters are able to analyze Billions of emails and learn from user activity and patterns on how to filter spam emails!
Why does this matter?
Perhaps you are curious… What has changed now and what should I be aware of?
Observe a few instances:
Earlier, back then! You’ll be fine and your emails will get through the filters if you send fewer emails than usual.
Today, however, even if you send 10 emails a day, these intelligent filters will catch spam!
Even if you send an erratically high volume of emails, such as 100 emails each day when previously you were sending only 10 to 20. You could be marked as spam if you do this. and discover the significance of consistency in email communication. (We shall go into more detail about this below.)
Another example is your domain, today, if you get a new domain, it may be blacklisted automatically for 30 days as a precaution. and using an old domain is better for your reputation.
So yes, it matters! and you need to learn the rules of the new game!
Ok Friends, Now let’s dive in and cover almost everything you need to know in order to avoid spam and land your emails in the inbox.
1. Subject Line & Message Body
The Subject line and the Message Body are the two primary components that make up an email message when you send it. Therefore, you must make sure that neither will set off the spam filter. How?
Just be careful not to use any offensive or spammy keywords in the subject line or the body of your message. You can accomplish this by doing the following:
Use subject line testers to check your subject line after you’ve written it to make sure it’s effective. Therefore, utilise a free online tool like SendCheckit Subject Line Tester and make sure you receive a high rating.
Example of a Bad Subject Line: “GET FREE [100$] GIFT – CLICK HERE!”
This Subject Line is bad Simply because it contains some Bad & Spammy keywords like “Get”, “Free”, “here”Also, it contains bad characters like the exclamation mark “!” and the All caps letters.Example of a Good Subject Line: “Email Marketer? Want to Boost Conversions????”
Simple, Clean, and Perfect Subject Line to use.
The message body must not contain any spammy or undesirable keywords like the ones below, just as the subject line.
Earn money, get wealthy, receive anything completely free, etc.
A list of spammy keywords is available at HubSpot here.
Other than avoiding spammy keywords, the following guidelines should be used when writing emails:
- Text to image ratio: Spam filters are suspicious of emails made up of mostly images.
- Thoughtfully add links. You don’t want to add links more than 3 times in one email. (we will talk about links more later)
- Personalization. insert personalization into your emails (person name or company).
Note About Personalization: Although it’s a good practice to personalize your emails after I did a lot of tests and check-up different sources, It didn’t seem to be big deal maybe except in Cold Email Marketing.
If you Go to Neil Patel’s website or Backlinko you will see that to subscribe to the newsletter, you will need to enter only your email address. so emails are not personalized and email campaigns are performing greatly and delivery rates are up to 90%.
Optimized Your Subject Line and Message Body? Great! ✔️
2. Your Sending Domain
Your domain name is the second crucial consideration you need to make. the email domain that you are employing.
Example: “de-aly.com” is my sending domain because I use firstname.lastname@example.org in my campaigns.
Make sure your domain is clear and not blacklisted before sending your email marketing. How do you test?
Simply visit MXtoolbox.com and utilise the blacklist tool to see the status of your domain in a matter of seconds; here is an example of mine:
Note: if your domain is still new, it may be blacklisted automatically by SEM FRESH, It’s normal, it will be removed automatically after 15-30 days.
Checked Your Domain? Great! ✔️
Another Important Note to Know!
If you are sending cold emails if you are a cold email marketer, it’s better to use a domain other than your primary business domain. because if it got blacklisted, your main domain will stay safe.
So Just Go and Get a domain dedicated to cold email marketing only.
Gmail Postmaster Tools
The following step is to join your domain to Gmail Postmaster Tools so that you can track its reputation, spam rate, authentication, and other information. This will help you understand your email sending level and identify any issues.
Here is an example of one of my domains:
Added Your Domain? Great! ✔️ Let’s Move on.
3. URLs & Links
The links you provide in your emails must pass through spam filters carefully. mostly because that’s where the user will actually act.
You must therefore be very careful while adding your links.
If the domain URLs are blacklisted or not, that is the first thing you need to examine. as well as its safety.
Okay, I indicated that you may use Mxtoolbox to check the blacklist.
What about safe links?
Simply you can use tools like Google Safe Browsing, Kaspersky VirusDesk, or Phishtank to test any URL.
So always check your links before adding it. This is one.
The second thing you have to take care of is the Affiliate & CPA Offer Links. Don’t Ever Ever add Affiliate links directly into your emails!
How to add Affiliate Links to our emails?
How are we going to use email marketing to promote affiliate links if I said, “Don’t ever add to emails”?
if you are a CPA marketer or affiliate like promoting Maxbounty Offers, Amazon goods, ClickBank Offers, or whatever. Using email marketing to promote is then one of the primary methods.
Obviously, I’m not referring to spamming here. You have a subscriber base, you are aware of their interests, and you have the ability to send them exclusive offers and promotions.
I am a member of three affiliate networks, for instance. One is about email marketing tools, one is about web hosting, and the third is about the Udemy affiliate programme.
There is nothing wrong to send my subscribers a notification that Udemy is running a sale if you would like to get a course, and I attach my Udemy affiliate link. this 100% legal, and this is how it works.
Anyway, let’s go back to our topic, How to promote affiliate offers through email marketing?
Here we have 2 Approaches and I do prefer the second one because of its more professional.
What are these two approaches?
- Cloak Your URLs.
- Use a Landing Page.
Cloak Your URLs. (Masking Links)
URL Cloaking, or what we call Stealth Forwarding is a technique used to hide the target URL that you want to use to visit and mask it by another one that looks like a normal URL.
Use a Landing Page.
The second option which I do prefer is to use a landing page or a normal post on your blog that is talking about the offer, then you can add your links inside the post.
So in your emails, you will be linking to your website landing page or blog post, and everything will look normal.
Now your URLs are safe. Great! ✔️
4. Email Tracking
You will be able to track and monitor your emails when you send an email marketing campaign using your system or any email marketing solution.
In order to find out who opened the emails, who clicked on them, from which nations, and so forth.
Why Tracking may trigger spam filters?
Understanding how attacking functions behind the scenes is necessary to understand why. How does an email marketing tool know when someone has opened it or clicked on a link?
Simply put, when you allow tracking, your email will automatically include a little hidden image. This hidden image will have a source attribute set to Link, which is in charge of establishing a connection to an internet service and transmitting information about the email.
As a result, when an email is opened, the hidden image will load automatically, and clicking the link will let the server know that it has been opened.
And what about tracking Clicked links?
All of the links in the email will now be substituted with other URLs by the email service or application in order to measure clicks. Therefore, in actuality, we track special URLs rather than actual URLs.
Therefore, the email service can record when one of these unique Links is clicked and subsequently redirect the user to the destination URL.
I think it’s simple.
So now that we are aware of how tracking operates, do you understand why it might set off spam filters? yes?
Simply said, you must make sure the tracking URLs are secure and are not banned.
Additionally as a good practise, regardless of whether you’re using an SMTP service like Sendgrid, Sparkpost, another SMTP service, or perhaps your own SMTP server. Always set up a custom domain separate from your primary domain for tracking.
You can re-view the image to verify that the red tracking link uses a domain other than “de-aly”
Done with tracking? Great! ✔️
5. Sending Score
Sending score is very important, and in short, you must ensure at least 9/10 – 10/10 as a sensing score in Mail-tester.
How to get the best sending score?
Mainly to get almost 10/10, you should take care of the following:
- SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
- DKIM ( DomainKeys Identified Mail )
- Reverse DNS (PTR)
- Message body.
1. SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
You can specify the mail servers that are permitted to deliver emails from your domain by adding an SPF record, which is a TXT record, to your domain’s DNS Zone.
Messages submitted from servers that aren’t listed in the SPF record will either be ignored or labelled as spam.
As an illustration, you cannot utilise Google’s domain when sending emails from your own server with the sending email email set to “email@example.com”. It’s a sign that you’re attempting to spam.
Setting SPF is crucial if you want other mailing providers to trust your domain. In a similar manner, you may implement SPF and stop anyone from using your domain to send emails.
Example of SPF. Open your DNS zone in and add the following record:
v=spf1 a ip4:XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX ~all
*Replace with your server IP.
Now only your server can send emails from your domain.
2. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).
A Dkim record is also a text record in your DNS that holds a public authentication key. This key will be validated using a private key saved privately inside your server.
All emails will be signed, and this will avoid any alterations and protect your email originality, and this is very important for your server to achieve high sending scores.
How to set Dkim?
This can’t be answered since it depends on the SMTP service or server you are using. each has its own way to setup.
Anyway, if you are interested to learn more, you can check my courses below:
1- Build a Mail Server on Windows – Unlimited Business Emails!
3- Build Your Own SMTP Email Server and Send Unlimited Emails!
3- Setup & Configure PowerMTA Server + IP Rotation
4– Amazon SES: Build Your Own Email Marketing System!
In each explained how to get 10/10 as sending the score and how to set Dkim.
3. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance)
It is a protocol that assesses the (SPF) and (DKIM) of an email message to evaluate its validity.
The use of domain spoofing to phish for recipients’ personal information is one hazardous email activity that can be avoided with the use of DMARC, which makes it simpler for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop.
It allows email senders to declare how to deal with emails that were not validated with SPF or DKIM. Senders can choose to ban certain emails entirely or send them to the garbage folder.
4. Reverse DNS (PTR)
Reverse DNS, also known as a pointer record, is used to point your IP to your domain and is the opposite of a typical DNS A record.
Therefore, you will learn the name when you call the IP. It is crucial for setting up your mail server, boosting your sending reputation, and establishing your sending score.
5. Message body
I talked about the message body before, but I wanna add here three more points to take care of:
The first one is the message structure, just make sure that you don’t have a lot of images in the email much more than text. keep it normal.
The second point is to always ensure to have a text version of your email with HTML. Now, this is not so important because almost all email applications will generate the text version automatically, but keep it in mind if you face it one day!
The third one is to add unsubscribe links to your emails, now also this is done almost with all email marketing systems and applications, so keep it in mind.
Got 10/10 as a Sending score?? Great! ✔️ what’s next?
6. Sending Reputation
I think this is the most important factor!
Now you need to be aware of something very crucial: only if you use your own SMTP server or an SMTP provider with a dedicated IP will you be able to manage your sending reputation.
Why? Considering that the sender IP address’s reputation is determined by the sending.
How to get a good sending reputation?
Short answer: Warmup your STMP Server.
Warming Up your SMTP server
When you build a New SMTP Server with a new IP Address, and Before You can Start Sending Your Email Marketing Campaigns, you have to warm up your IP Address.
What is Warming Up IP?
If you use a new brand-name IP address for your SMTP, ISPs (internet service providers) won’t be aware of it and it won’t have a reputation online.
Thus, IP warmup is the technique of establishing your online reputation by gradually raising the volume of mail sent from your IP address in accordance with a set timetable.
Example of warming up your server shown in the table below:
Warmup Day Emails To Send 1 18 2 32 3 56 4 100 5 178 6 316 7 562 8 1000
This Table shows a scenario if you wanna reach 1K emails per day with a good reputation. Please refer to my Warming up SMTP Guide for more details.
7. Email List Health
A target email list is where you send emails while you’re sending them. There must be a healthy email list here!
What does “a healthy email list” mean exactly?
In a nutshell, an email list is healthy if and only if:
- All Emails Are Valid.
- No Spam Traps.
- Complaint rate.
- Active users.
1. All Emails Are Valid. (~ 0% Bounce rate)
If you are using option forms on your website to collect email addresses, make sure to activate double options so that all users must confirm their email addresses in order to subscribe to your lists.
Before launching any campaign, cold email marketers must validate all of their emails. therefore it’s preferable to accomplish this by using an online verification service.
A high percentage of bounced emails like (5-10) % may destroy your reputation.
2. No Spam Traps.
Does your email list contain any spam traps!? what is a spam trap?
Some businesses employ spam traps to track down and stop spammers in their fight against it. An email address that is being actively tracked while being inactively utilised is referred to as a spam trap. An email was sent to a spam trap, therefore the sender was the one who was caught! The recipient of emails at that email address never opted in to do so. And the email is not currently in use.
3. Complaint rate.
The complaint rate is a measure of how frequently your subscribers report you as spam to mailbox providers after receiving your email.
Targeting the right audience in your emails is the greatest method to achieve a complaint rate of practically 0%.
The second step is to craft the ideal email so it doesn’t even appear to be spam!
When you’re done creating your email copy, it’s good practise to send it straight to your email. and substitute yourself for the addressee. and contemplate?
Does the email look spammy?!! the answer will make you run the campaign OR change the message.
A high percentage of Complaint rate like (2-3) % may destroy your reputation.
4. Active Users.
Another important factor that determines the health of your email list, is used activity.
When you send an email, how many users open it? how many users click on the links?
In order to maintain the health of your email list, it is a good idea to simply delete all inactive members every two to three months.
But! You may not be receiving activity because your emails are not getting to the inbox. After making sure that you have followed every instruction in this article, start eliminating inactive users.
Your Email List is Healthy? Great ✔️
8. More Tips
A/B Split Testing
In the context of email, A/B testing is the process of sending one variant of your campaign to a subset of your subscribers and a different variation to a different subset of subscribers with the ultimate purpose of determining which variation of the campaign generates the best results.
Take two email templates as an example, and send the first one to 50% of your subscribers and the second one to the other 50%.
Additionally, you may split-test SMTP services, subject lines, callouts, and anything else you want.
And based on the outcomes, you can determine what works best for you and use that information in your email marketing strategies and campaigns.
Test Before You Send!
Now After you ensured your system is almost perfect, the best thing to do is to test it before you send any campaign, to see how it’s performing.
I never send a campaign without testing it!
How to Test Your Campaign?
You should test how your emails actually work in addition to using Mail-tester to determine your sending score. the Inbox Tool by Gmass is the method I prefer to use.
It will help you comprehend and see in real time how your emails are working by sending your email to up to 19 email accounts, each of which is protected with a different security programme. Then, you can determine whether or not your email is avoiding spam filters.
Someone may ask if you follow all this, does it mean all my emails will 100% land in the inbox?
unfortunately No! There is nothing 100% perfect, but we ware trying to do here is to make sure like up to 90% of our campaigns reach the inbox.
look at my spam folder:
Don’t be shocked! yes, emails from YouTube & Google landed in my spam folder.
This is merely intended to demonstrate that nothing is perfectly flawless. However, if you follow the advice as I advised, your inbox rate would rise by 90%.
So what did we cover?
- Subject Line & Message Body. (Avoid Spammy Triggers ✔️ )
- Sending Domain Status. (Check if blacklisted ✔️ )
- URL & Links. (Check if blacklisted, Avoid Affiliate Links ✔️ )
- Email Tracking. (Tracking Domain ✔️ )
- Sending Score. (SPF, DKIM, rDNS, DMARC, Message body ✔️ )
- Sending Reputation. (Warmup your server ✔️ )
- Email List Health. (Bounce, Complaint, Spam Traps, Active Users ✔️ )
- Important Tips ( A/B split test, Test Before Send ✔️ )
Good Luck! ❤️