How to NOT Land in Spam: 5 Steps to Better Email Deliverability

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March 29, 2023

It's a terrible feeling to spend hours crafting an email message only for it to not get delivered. Sadly, many marketers don't realize they are doing things that cause their emails to land in spam. To ensure your emails make it into the inbox, here are 5 things your business needs to know. 

Optimize your subject lines

The subject line is one of the most important components when sending emails. Not only is it the determining factor of whether the recipient opens the email or not, but it’s often a key component in deciding if the email is marked as spam. For this reason, make sure your subject lines are concise and provide recipients with a clear idea of the contents. Avoid using phrases like “free,” “sale,” or specific numbers, as these can trigger spam filters on some email service providers (ESPs).  

It's always a good idea to test out your subject lines before deploying an email. Using A/B testing, you can send two different versions of the same email with half of your recipients receiving one subject line and the other half receiving another. You’d then measure each version's delivered rate in order to determine which one was more successful. Insights from A/B testing can help you tweak your subject lines in the future until you find a system of best practices that reach your audience most effectively.

A/B test graphic

Clean up your contact lists 

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home anymore, it’s also for your email subscriber lists. On a regular basis, you should check for duplicate contacts or invalid addresses that could negatively impact the success rate of your email marketing campaigns. If needed, segmenting contacts into smaller lists based on assigned categories can be beneficial.  

You may need to clean up your email subscriber list if you notice any sudden drops in engagement levels (open rates, click-through rates, etc.) or if contacts are no longer engaging with messages when they previously had been. Having too many invalid addresses on file can result in ESPs blocking entire campaigns due to suspicion. 

Maintaining a healthy contact list requires continuous effort. Consider setting up automated processes to alleviate some of the tediousness. Part of this effort can include opportunities for recipient feedback within the emails to help narrow down who is unsubscribing and why. The ‘why’ provides your team with insights to determine what adjustments need to be made to your strategy going forward. 

Have a responsive email design 

In today's digital age, when 46% of online activity is done on mobile devices, it's essential that marketers send mobile-responsive emails. This means you want everything within your email – from headings to CTA buttons – displayed correctly regardless of the device so that users can easily consume the content and take action directly from their phone

It’s tempting to fill your emails with cool photos or graphics to get the attention of readers but do so sparingly. Even though people prefer to read images rather than extensive text, emails with too many images tend to get flagged as spam. The rule of thumb is to have a text-to-image ratio of 60:40. This will ensure you have an engaging, effective message with a higher email deliverability rate.  

Desktop vs mobile view for email


Warm up your domain

Before conducting any email marketing campaigns, you’ll need to warm up your domain to prevent getting sent to spam. Warming up a domain involves gradually increasing the number of emails sent out to build up your reputation with ESPs. This is a crucial step since ESPs track where an email is coming from, and if it’s from a new or unknown sender, they may be more likely to discard it. By slowly increasing the number of emails you send, the ESPs will start to recognize you, until eventually, you become a trusted sender.  

This process also increases your chances of having a good sender score. This score will give you an indication of how often your marketing emails are being delivered. A sender score is essentially a rating system based on how many of your emails are hitting the inbox versus being blocked by the ESP. The higher your score, the more likely your emails are getting delivered.  

Set up your DNS records

Many companies have a monitoring system known as a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) to protect their employees from phishing and spoof emails. Don’t take it personally, but if your marketing emails don’t meet the requirements, it will likely get flagged as spam. Therefore, authenticating your emails is essential for being recognized as legitimate.  

Setting up your domain name system (DNS) records aids in authenticating your emails. All domains associated with sending marketing emails should have certain DNS records set-up for ESPs to authenticate them. You’ll also need to decide on your authentication method as part of setting up your DNS records. The most pertinent authentication methods for B2B marketing are SPF (sender policy framework), DKIM (domain keys identified mail) and DMARC (domain message authentication, reporting & conformance) records. Knowing which records are needed and setting them up correctly can go a long way in boosting deliverability rates.  


Just because your email is well-worded, organized and engaging doesn’t mean it’s getting delivered to its intended recipients. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste by getting sent to spam. With the techniques and best practices shared above, successful deliverability is achievable and maintainable! Your ongoing efforts along with regular monitoring and reviewing of campaigns will lead to improved email marketing performance for years to come. 


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