How to Avoid Emails Going to Spam: The Ultimate Guide

From finding the right decision-maker to closing the deal – the nature of the B2B sales process brings various challenges to us, sales professionals and entrepreneurs. The success of emailing efforts is one of the top challenges that sales reps face every day.

With 269 billion emails sent per day and with spam filters in use, the chance that your email will reach your prospect’s inbox is not as high as you might expect. Moreover, many sales reps unknowingly weaken their chances by using certain mailing tactics that send their messages straight to spam.

In this blog post, we will explain how to avoid spammy mailing and how to make sure that your emails reach the intended recipient. After all, if you are using a lead generation tool, such as Oxyleads Prospector, it would be a shame to waste your targeted sales leads by sending spammy emails.

How does a spam filter function? According to MailChimp, each spam filter functions a bit differently, and “passing” scores are typically determined by individual server administrators. However, some universal rules apply to the majority of filters. Remember, spam filters aren’t entirely accurate, so even some legitimate emails might go to spam.

Check this infographic and learn how to prevent your emails from going to the spam folder.

How to Avoid Emails Going to Spam infographic

The main things you should concentrate on when trying to avoid emails going to spam are:

1. Subject Line

According to Boomerang, a question mark and an exclamation mark used in one subject line may trigger a spam filter rule. Also, if you include a percentage over 100% in the subject line, your email might end up being unseen.

Many spam emails have subject lines that start with  “Do you want” or “Do you need,” so try to avoid these.

Don’t use deceptive subject lines that start with “Re:” or “Fwd:” if, in reality, it’s your first email.

2. “From”

Kissmetrics internal analysts have even noticed variations in deliverability results from using the address [email protected] versus [email protected]. Their recommendation is to use clear, trustworthy “From” field names, such as: “[email protected],” “[email protected],” “[email protected],” “[email protected]

3. “Urgent Reply Needed” and High Importance

Let’s be honest, if you’re sending the first email to someone, do you need an immediate reply? “Urgent reply needed” is a phrase that can guarantee your email a place in the spam folder. Sending an email with high priority can also hurt your email’s deliverability, so avoid this kind of tricks.

4. Email Opening

Too formal or too informal – both types of email openings can be seen as spam by spam filters. Avoid “Dear Sir,” “Hey Bro” or “To whom it may concern.” Personalization and a simple “Hi John” works best. To include the recipient’s name into an email opening is not that difficult. Tools such as Oxyleads Prospectoror Oxyleads Extension allow you to identify the right decision maker and see his or her name.

Email Opening dos and don'ts

5. Spam Trigger Words

Certain words used in the subject line or email body may trigger spam filters. These words are: “prize,” “free,” “bonus,” “buy,” “purchase,” “order” etc. has published a list of altogether 455 (!) spam trigger words. You might say that it’s impossible to write anything without using these words, and you’d be right about that. Fortunately, spam filters are getting more and more sophisticated by the day. They can identify separate words and analyze the context in which they are used. So, send only valuable content, and you’ll be okay.

Always include only full links in your emails. Otherwise, you’ll look like a spammer trying to hide what they’re sending.

7. Images, GIFs, and Memes

Emails containing more images than text have a bigger chance to be flagged as spam. If your email contains one big image, it will almost definitely end up in spam. Colored text, writing in the caps locks or using several different font sizes is also not a good idea.  

8. Bad HTML

Superfluous and missing HTML tags or code pulled in from Microsoft Word can trigger a spam penalty. You should keep your code as clean as possible. Remember to optimize your images for mobile and use fonts that work across most platforms, like Arial, Georgia and Times New Roman.


9. Unsubscribe Link

According to the CAN-SPAM Act, you must include “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your emails. Make sure that this link works for at least 30 days after sending. Also, remember to include your physical mailing address in the email and to follow other CAN-SPAM Act rules (read them here).

Unsubscribe Link

10. Low Open Rates

According to, top webmail providers check how many emails are opened and how many are deleted without being opened. The open rate is one of the factors in their spam filtering decisions. If you keep having low open rates, it may put your future emails at higher risk of being flagged as spam. Our recommendation is to take out contacts that never open your email from your mailing list and to stick with the “good ones.”

11. Clean Your Contacts

Quality over quantity rule: if you are sending emails to a long list of addresses that are inactive or haven’t been used for a long time, it might raise a red flag for spam filters. To keep a healthy ratio of active and inactive emails, clean your lists regularly and keep only active contacts in them.

Active contacts are more likely to engage with your email (open, click, read, reply) and this will be seen as a good indicator by most mailbox providers.

Clean Your Contacts

12. Split the List

Sending bulk emails, from mailbox provider’s perspective, is bad. However, if you work in sales, mass mailing is a necessity. What you should do to avoid spam filters is to split long lists into smaller ones.

If you’re collecting emails on your website or via advertising, don’t wait until you have 1000 subscribers to send the first campaign. Start with smaller groups and continue building a list.

13. IP Address

If your IP address was used by someone else to send spam emails, your business emails might also be flagged as spam. That’s why it’s better to use reputable email service providers such as MailChimp, who put a lot of effort to keep their sending reputation intact.

IP Address

14. SPF record and DKIM

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a method of fighting spam, and, by creating an SPF record, you can make yourself more trustworthy in the eyes of receiving email servers. A DKIM, according to Mailshake, is another way to verify that your email is being sent from you, and not a hacker or third party.

15. Spam Complaints

Every time a subscriber marks an email as spam, this complaint gets recorded by the mailbox provider. Even if your email is not spam but the subscriber simply forgot about his or her subscription, it may affect your future mailing. To avoid situations like this, make sure that your email branding is memorable and matches the branding on your website.

And the last thing that helps avoid spam filters is sending valuable and relevant content! Emails that are useful and provide real value to the recipient will very unlikely get marked as spam.

If you like this post, you will also like our recent blog post about 14 Copywriting Secrets for More Persuasive Sales Emails and Top Things That Get A Higher Response Rate to Your Cold Emails.

Once you learn how to avoid emails going to spam, try our lead generation tool – Oxyleads Prospector. It helps to identify potential clients and get their email addresses.

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