Email Marketing: How to Avoid Being Flagged as SPAM

Is Your Email Marketing Being Flagged as Spam?

A total of 2,364,534 emails are sent across the internet in just 1 second. And of them, 67% are spam! To understand the importance of a correct email marketing campaign you do not need to read any statistics.

email marketing

At any time of the day, you are using your email. To write a friend, to apply for a job offer, to respond to a customer, or to request information.

If you want to be a successful email marketer, you have to make sure that your messages are opened by recipients without ending up in the trash (or even worse, being flagged as SPAM).

How can you accomplish this mission with email marketing?

Here are some suggestions you can apply to your next email marketing campaign.

1. Use a Reputable Service

Deliverability is an important metric you should pay attention to when analyzing the results of your email marketing campaign.

You want to make sure to increase the messages as much as possible. The messages that actually get to the destination, in relation to the number of emails sent.

If you think about it, that’s a parameter that is affected both from the ESP (email service provider) and you (the business).

It’s therefore important to invest in a great autoresponder (for example, GetResponse has 99% email deliverability) and make sure to keep increasing your online reputation.

You need to work on creating a clear policy that respects your subscribers and be sure to build your mailing list with a double opt-in.

It’s also suggested to have a clear unsubscribe process that gives users the chance to quit your newsletter right away.

Maintaining your mailing list as clean as possible is a basic point to keep atop deliverability, which means enhancing your reputation as a sender and respecting the CAN-SPAM act.

It's also suggested to have a clear unsubscribe process that gives users the chance to quit your newsletter right away. #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

2. Solve a Problem

If you had the certainty that a newsletter service could help you solve at least one of your problems, would you like to subscribe?

And when the title of the message landing in your email would already provide part of the answer to a problem you’re trying to solve, would you be tempted to open it?

A good example of how a newsletter that provides answers and information is certainly opened is given by the services offered by Quibb.

Quibb is a professional network that allows people to share relevant information about their work. The purpose of the website is to target their subscribers on the arguments and news of the day that best meets their professional needs.

solve a problem for your email subscribers

Do you know what is the open rate of the emails coming from Quibb?

However, it varies from 50 up to 70 percent!

It is an incredibly high result if you think that the average opening rate of an email is about 25.6%, according to a study by the Direct Marketing Association.

3. Help Your Subscribers to Make or Save Money

Groupon has become really popular thanks to the possibility offered to its customers (registered users), to access daily discounted gift certificates and vouchers usable at local or national companies.

Revolutionizing the dynamics of traditional sales, Groupon has managed to bring significant benefits to its customers. These benefits translate into considerable savings on every purchase made.

What does Groupon do to announce the availability of a good discount to its users?

It makes use of a mailing list, of course!

Now, the recipients of these commercial messages want to open them right away, intrigued by the interesting opportunities offered.

The title of your email must contain, in just forty characters, the message you want to convey to your subscribers: “Free Shipping”, “Discount” or “Advantage” are among the terms used to indicate unequivocally the opportunity that you want to offer your leads.

But pay attention to draw the longbow, you want to keep your spam score as low as possible. So avoid excessive use of the term “FREE” in the subject of your emails or uppercase words.

Now, to improve your spam score, visit this list of terms by SpamAssassin and be sure to not use them in your email marketing campaigns.

Remember to run A/B tests. In some cases, the “free shipping” offer can be much more attractive to a percentage discount on the product purchased.

For some customers, however, saving just a few dollars can make a difference!

If you want to keep your target audience engaged, you absolutely need to identify the right offer. An offer that satisfies the real needs of your users.

For some customers, however, saving just a few dollars can make a difference! #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

4. Deliver Great Content

You never stop learning.

This motto is always present in the choices you make every day, even if you are not aware.

To hone your professional knowledge, for example, you attend courses, conferences, and seminars, read books and do everything to stay up to date. Right?

Think how it could be helpful to have the opportunity to receive an email each week with updates and information that can help improve yourself. Or, improve your professional life to be more competitive and successful.

great content for emails

Emails with useful information, advice, and practical suggestions, have an open rate of 40% more than those that are focused solely on the sale of a product!

Well, you should aim to deliver just relevant and interesting content to your subscribers. However, not to only sell your products or services.

5. Strive to Be a Good Entertainer

Some well-structured emails, other than text, contain also some element of entertainment such as a video or an image.

This helps make the reading more enjoyable, stimulating unconsciously the possible sale.

It is a trend that is growing stronger and that opens up new developments for the user experience when shopping online.

According to Forrester Research, adding media in an email increases the click of visitors two/three times.

Is it therefore possible to create a message that knows how to entertain the reader? And, at the same time helps him make or save money and provide information to solve a problem?

Well, most of the emails only focus on one of these topics.

My advice? Take a look at the last emails you sent to your subscribers. Then, make a note of how many of these subjects you covered.

If you have not used any, then you should seriously reconsider your approach to the audience you are targeting.

Remember, good communication is the foundation of every successful business.

What do you think?

Are you running a successful newsletter?

Please share your tips or experience in the comments below, thanks!


  • Richard Martin says:

    Hi Lisa.

    Practical tips here thanks.

    I use a reputable service (yep, GetResponse are great in that respect), and also try and entertain to a degree. My strategy is to write like I am writing to a close friend, and I’ve seen an increase in open rates recently because of this.

    Sharing out now.

  • Hi Erik,

    Churn out that great, inspired content to see the best returns, AND to stay out of the junk folder. Folks will even check their spam if you have an influential name online, because they trust you, and know you’re not spamming.

    Fab tips!


  • Carol Amato says:

    Hi, Lisa and Erik,

    What is important topic to cover, Great article. I absolutely agree with you about the importance of choosing a reputable service.

    Deliverability is extremely important, I wholeheartedly agree. I use double opt in so because folks have to confirm that they want to receive email from me, it narrows the margin of folks providing an email address that’s not good, or undeliverable, so that helps a lot.

    I think you’re spot on with your point about delivering great content. Giving relevant help to those with a situation where they need a solution to a problem or frustration is the best policy in getting emails opened and the links clicked on, in my opinion.

    Great food for thought, thanks for the thought-provoking article.

    Have a great weekend.

    • Hi Carol,
      I’m so glad you liked the post.

      You’re right, email marketing is really important, both for bloggers, webmasters or any business owners.

      Well done on using double opt-in.
      This way, you are sure people will subscribe to your list, voluntarily.

      Giving interesting content over time, will keep your mailing list unsubscribe rate quite low.
      You want to understand your audience, and then providing solution to their problems or needs.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment my post here at Lisa’s blog.
      Have a great weekend!

  • Andrew says:

    Hey Erik,

    Good to see you here on Lisa’s blog.

    Good points you raised as well. You don’t want to be identified as a spammer.

    The problem I’m facing right no is coming out with quality content for those on my list. I only email them 1 – 2 times a week and I feel that the degree of emails I send out could be much better.

    I agree with your point about solving a problem and I’m going to try to take that approach from now on and attempt to solve a problem in the emails I send out.

    Thanks for this post, Erik.

    – Andrew

    P.S. That’s a daunting number 67%. Wow. Never would have guessed that many were spam.

    • Hi Andrew,
      good to see you here too! 🙂

      You pointed out really well.
      Running a “great” newsletter is not easy at all,
      there is a lot of work involved and you need to keep quality messages as first priority.

      As well as worrying about many metrics, like SPAM score and deliverability.

      Glad you liked the post,
      thanks for the comment, Andrew.

      Have a great rest of this week.

  • Irish Carter says:

    Hi Erik,

    This was a great post and helpful for those of us who struggle with the whole email marketing world. I battled in the past with switching from one company to the other to handle my emails. Then, I had too many newsletters and too broad a group. My company is currently revamping our email marketing plans. This was a huge help. Thanks so much.


    • Hi Irish,
      happy to see you here! 😀

      Running a successful newsletter is not easy, right?
      There are really many things to take care of.

      I’m glad to hear this post was helpful,
      I hope you’ll take into consideration these points for your next email marketing campaign.

      Thanks for commenting,
      have a great rest of this week, Irish! 😛

  • Rick Siderfin says:

    Great list with words that can trigger the spam filter! This blog post definitely goes into my bookmarks – to be honest, I use MailChimp and so far haven’t encountered anyone, who marks my emails as spam. Even though, I sometimes compile email lists for outreach purposes.

    • Hi Rick,
      glad to hear you haven’t experienced yet any issue with SPAM filters.

      Thanks for the kind words,
      hope the resources mentioned in this post will hlep you improve your email marketing campaign results.

      Appreciate your comment!

  • Peter Kanayo says:

    Erik, great seeing you on Lisa blog. As for me I hardly send e-mails as in personalized e-mail. The e mails are more or less like blog update as I sync my Rss feeds to sent as emails to my subscribers.
    Thanks for the link highlighting the words that can trigger the spam button.

  • CraIg says:

    Great information here Erik, some of which I was not aware of.

    Since I’m just starting to focus on building my email list and have only recently started with email campaigns this is very timely. I had no idea there was such a thing as a Spam score. I will be looking into the SpamAssasin site prior to my next campaign.

    I freaked out went I sent out my first campaign, and someone identified my email as spam. My first response was are you kidding me. You sighed up for my list, this is the first email I’ve sent to you, and you’re going to flag it as spam. Then I started really freaking out thinking that my service would cancel me or something if anyone else started marking things as spam. Eventually I calmed down and realized it’s all part of the process, and I didn’t need them anyway.

    I do like the idea of including video and image, and have often wondered if that made a difference. Apparently it does.

    So, all in all, great tips here Erik, and I’ll be looking at these again before my next campaign.

    Thanks also to Lisa for allowing you to guest post on her site.


    • Hi Craig,
      good to hear this post is timely.
      Hope it helps creating an effective email marketing campaign.

      Yes, there are so many metrics to take care of.
      SPAM score is one of them.
      Pay attention of your email subjects, for example.

      As you said, you need to be prepared, before starting a mailing list.
      There are some basic points you need to learn.

      Thanks for commenting,
      good luck with your newsletter, Craig.

  • Uttoran Sen says:

    Hey Erik,

    Good to see you here on Lisa’s blog,

    Excellent advice for effective email marketing, agreed with all of your tips. The bottom line is in the value of your content and how well it is formatted. If it is readable and the user likes it and get some benefit out of it, one won’t have to worry about being flagged, rather it is conversions that will start to pour out.

    Good to see the mention about GetResponse, surely with 99% deliverability it looks solid. I have used a number of email platforms and Aweber has been really effective and delivered good results for me,

    Uttoran Sen,

    • Hello Uttoran,
      happy to see you. 🙂

      Glad to hear you confirm the content in this post.
      You made a good point.
      Aside from creating great content, you need to take care of formatting the right way.

      It must be readable and easy to understand at first glance!

      Thanks for sharing your views here,
      and have a good day, my friend! 😀

  • Hi Erik!

    Glad you covered this topic because I think my biggest nightmare would be having GetResponse shut down my account due to spam complaints.

    Like you said, if your subscribers really love the content you’re giving them and you’re actually genuinely helping them rather than blasting promotions at their face, you won’t run into a ton of problems. Sadly some people still try the latter approach and wonder why nobody likes them. 🙁

    I also think it’s really important to keep your promises when it comes to email frequency. I send out a bit more often than many people (sometimes multiple times a day!) but I make it clear when people sign up to expect that many. I think if I didn’t, I may get a few more spam complaints. I haven’t had any yet so that’s good.

    Anyway Erik it’s good to see you here on Lisa’s blog and I look forward to talking with you again soon.

    – James

    • Hi James,
      I’m sure you don’t want to have your GetResponse account closed due to SPAM complaints. 😉

      It’s all about giving added value to your readers.
      You want to differentiate yourself from the mass, deliver VERY interesting content, which solves people problems, or needs.

      You’re right.
      Being honest and clear is another way to avoid being flagged as SPAM.

      Thanks for sharing your experience here, James.
      Have a great friday!

  • Hi Erik,

    So good to see you here on Lisa’s blog!

    When it comes to Email marketing the last thing we want to do is to be marked as SPAM! This is why I love using Get Response because it shows so clearly to unsubscribe. I rather have people unsubscribing to my list to narrow it down than to have unopened emails.

    As we email, It is always good practice to share what we just learned to keep our readers up to the latest and greatest. And also have those times where we are entertaining and keeping things light and fun.

    Great advice!


    • Hi Donna,
      what a pleasure to see you. 😛

      We don’t want to be flagged as SPAM, right?
      Email marketing seems easy, but it’s not! At all!

      Thanks for sharing with us your views, I’m glad to hear you’re having a positive experience with GetResponse.

      Sometimes being funny is a way to lighten “difficult” to understand topics.
      People love to laugh!

      Appreciate your contribution,
      have a great rest of this week.

  • Hey Erik,

    Welcome to Lisa’s blog and Happy New Year to you if I haven’t told you already!

    As soon as i saw the title of this blog post, i had to stop by. Spam is a problem that a lot of us have and being able to lower the percentage can help a lot.

    One thing I can improve on are emailing ways of saving email or giving discounts. I’m always talking about solutions, but barely the tools within the broadcast emails i send each week. I understand that with any audience they want to fix something instantly and get some type of instant results, and sharing tools, both free and discounted can help a lot.

    Also I like to share more videos with my list. I figure one way for them to know me better is through video so they can see my expressions to build better rapport with them.

    Also you must have a great title that will bypass the spam filters. Yes the word “FREE” may not be the best word choice to use with your titles, so it’s definitely better to use some alternative words or phrases.

    Thanks for dropping some great tips here on Lisa’s blog! I hope you’re having great week!

    • Hello Sherman,
      thanks for your kind wishes.
      Happy New Year to you too! 😀

      I’m glad the title catched your attention.
      It’s a hot topic, for bloggers working on their email marketing campaign.

      I recently read a post at Enstine’s blog talking about giving discounts, freebies or promotions to your audience, in order to attract their attention and invite them to buy your products or services.
      I think that’s a great idea.

      I agree with you.
      Sharing compelling videos is a great way to stand our from the crowd and differentiate yourself from the mass out there.

      Thanks for sharing your views with us,
      have a great rest of this week, Sherman!

  • Reginald Chan says:

    Hi Erik!

    Great to see you here dear friend! I think you nailed it with the sharing good content. That’s vital in today’s world.

    Don’t just blog because of blogging. Blog because you want to help out and trust me, the good thing will come back to you. It is all karma!

    Keep it up!

    • Hello Reginald, my friend, how are you? 😛

      I can feel the positive vibes in your words.
      And so your readers do.

      I appreciate your kind feedback.

      I strongly believe in karma and into being positive.
      I always see the full glass, even when it’s almost emply… 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment here,
      have a great day, mate!

  • Corina Ramos says:

    Hi Erik,

    It’s so nice to meet you.

    Interesting stats. I didn’t know 67% of email are spam. I used to use Get Repsonse and the feature I liked was the Spam score before submitting our email. It was a great way to let us know if we needed to make any changes.

    Thank you for sharing these suggestions. Of all these are very important to a successful email campaign. I discontinued my email campaign because I felt there was something missing. I’m saving this post to use as a reminder if I decide to do another.

    I hope it was a great day. Enjoy the rest of the week. Hey Lisa, thanks for such a great guest today. I hope you’re doing well hun!

    • Hi Corina,
      it’s my pleasure. 😀

      I’ve visited your blog a couple of times, love the design!

      You’re right.
      67% is a huge percentage. I can’t count the number of SPAM messages I receive each day at my blogs emails.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with email marketing.
      As mentioned, there are so many things to take care of, that managing a successful maling list can be really hard!

      I think the biggest challenge is to keep delivering compelling and relevant content for your subscribers,
      while lincreasing the number of contacts and paying attentiont to not “sell too much”.

      Definitely not an easy task!

      I appreciate your visit and comment here today.
      Talk to you soon, and have a great rest of this week! 😛

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Corina, Isn’t that amazing about the 67% of email are spam? Have you noticed a difference since you quit your email campaigns? You are welcome and I hope it does come in handy for you. Enjoy the rest of the week and see you in the socialverse!

  • Adrienne says:

    Hey Erik,

    Great to see you here at Lisa’s blog and what a great topic. We all hate spam so much don’t we!

    I agree with all of your points and I’m going to be honest with you, it took me a LONG time to understand all of this. I started building my lists over the years and would abandon them and eventually delete them all and start all over because I didn’t know how to add the value my readers needed.

    I was doing affiliate marketing back then and being taught to promote promote promote of course. That’s why they signed up right? It’s not like it is now with them just reading a post and then opting in for more information, I was promoting products. So once I went through the seven day email series I didn’t know what else to say. I was lost and heck, I wouldn’t open those emails either.

    It’s back when I decided to throw everything out the door and just be me even in my newsletters that I started to see results. I was shocked actually but some people let me know they didn’t want to hear about my personal life. I add a little of that to my emails because I want my audience to get to know me and feel more comfortable. If they opt out because of that then it’s fine with me because I wouldn’t connect with those people anyway.

    The main goal though should always be to help them no matter what your niche is so your suggestions are really great.

    Thanks for this message today Erik, I’m sure there are plenty of people who still need to improve upon this.

    Have a great week you two.


    • Hello Adrienne,
      happy to see your smile here! 🙂

      We’re in the same boat.
      After having started my mailing list for the first time, I’ve abandoned it too.
      Email marketing seems easy, but there is a big difference between doing it right or just trying to gather contacts for “easy affiliate marketing sales”.

      Luckily, today there are many good ESP available online.
      Time ago, Aweber was the most popular one.
      Other than offering different features, you can now start building your mailing list, without investing a huge amount of money every month (there are even free plans out there).

      I’m shocked of hearing that people complained about you sharing personal stories.
      I thought it was part of the game.
      I guess some users are just “pragmatic” and want just to read practical tips and suggestions.

      Thanks a lot for sharing your experience here.
      I always appreciate your support.

      Talk to you soon and have a great rest of this week! 😛

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks Adrienne for taking the time to come by, comment and share your experiences with us. It is amazing what we learn along the way. I like the added personal touch you put in your emails so we know just how real you are. It does give me added comfort.
      I hope you have a great rest of the week!

  • Hi Erik,

    Nice to meet you on Lisa’s place mate 🙂 This is an excellent write up and enjoyed it much indeed!

    I love the fact you have integrated more facts throughout the post and linked to pretty useful resources as well. As I don’t know much about newsletters and email marketing, it was fun reading and more to learn 🙂

    Gosh… I didn’t know, over 60% emails are spam either 🙂 I like your tips on constructing the email title with effective keywords, and the warning on the overrated word – FREE. If a blogger set up their latest blog posts to deliver upon publish (automatically) and its subject derives from the post title, then he may need to think about the choice of words when constructing their blog post titles as well. Isn’t it? Or has to change how the email service pick its subject I guess.

    Thanks for the wonderful post and tips for a successful email newsletter 🙂

    You both have a lovely week, Erik and Lisa 🙂


    • Hello Mayura,
      great to see you here.

      It’s funny, because few hours ago, I’ve left my first comment at your blog.
      The power of connections, right? 😉

      I really appreciated your kind feedback.
      I always try to mention useful resources or link out to interesting articles, when writing new content.
      I think it adds value for the readers, and I’m glad you confirm it!

      Normally on a mailing list, you don’t want to send automatically all your blog posts, Mayura
      (unless it’s very special, but you are going to do it manually, though).

      You want to send personalized messages at your subscribers, with tips and suggestions
      If a readers wants to read blog updates, he just grabs the RSS Feeds.

      But yes, if you set your posts to be automatically sent to your subscribers, then you need to pay attention to your blog post titles!

      Thanks for your visit and comment here,
      I hope to talk to you soon! 😛

      • Mayura says:

        Hi Erik,

        Ha ha… Indeed! 😉 I just replied to your comment at my place and didn’t know you were there while I was reading your post here 🙂

        Thanks for elaborating the use of newsletters again within your comment and now I come to think that mine actually not a newsletter, but sending blog updates via email 🙂 You’re right. If it’s a newsletter it needs to be personalized and should bring value onto their table.

        Of course, I’m glad to meet you here as well 🙂


        • Yes, Mayura, it was funny! 😛
          When I noticed I was visiting and commenting your latest blog post, while you were doing the same here.

          It’s great to meet you again, and thanks for your reply.
          Hope you are having a great Tuesday!

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Mayura, nice to see you back here 🙂 do you use a newsletter for your blog? That 60% fact is surely an amazing one.
      One has to definitely work on their titles, they can make a big difference.
      Thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment. Enjoy the rest of your week.

      • Mayura says:

        Hey Lisa,

        Nice to come back indeed dear 🙂 Actually, I don’t use a newsletter but delivering blog updates though.

        Ha ha… Of course, the 60% fact got me thinking how many out there could do something useful instead. But I guess easy money is what they looking for 🙂

        Enjoy the rest of your lovely week as well, Lisa 🙂


  • Enstine Muki says:

    Welcome to Lisa’s blog and Happy New Year to you both 😉

    I have not been here since the beginning of the year. I’m however glad to be here Erik and reading a topic that’s as important as doing business with a list.

    Do you remember when I switched from Aweber to INinbox? One of the things that improved so tremendously was open rate. I remember for the first 2 months with INinbox, all my campaigns were held and moderated before getting released.

    The guys at INinbox went through my mails, pointing out spam triggers, etc. I learned a lot that I don’t think something else is better.

    My last week camapign had 28.41% open rate (Never seen with Aweber) and I think this is above industry standard. I’m not doing any pub for INinbox though. Just sharing what works for me.

    Now, if you solve problems, help your subscribers save money or simple make them trust you, they will always open your mails. Even before that, they will add your email address to their address book and that goes a long way to make sure your messages get delivered straight to their inbox .

    Beautiful points bro and a wonderful week ahead for both of you 😉

    • Hi Enstine,
      good to see you here too! 🙂

      Happy New Year, my friend.
      Hope you spent awesome time with your family.

      I have read in your blog about your experience of migration from Aweber to INinbox.
      I remember 5 years ago, Aweber was really the most popular choice available.
      Now there are so many valid alternatives online.

      You see, email marketing seems easy at first glance, but it’s not.
      Definitely not.

      There are so many metrics you need to pay attention to :
      other then spam score, there is the open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, bounce and complaint rate, etc.

      I’m glad you increased your open rate.
      You have here one happy subscriber of your list, who always read and open your messages.
      So keep up the great work, my friend! 😉

      Almost 30%? That’s a great result.

      You’re correct.
      Solving problems, satisfying needs, helping your subscribers saving or making money are great suggestions to improve overall the email marketing campaign.

      Thanks for the great comment,
      have a great week, you too! 😛

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Enstine, nice to see you back here. Thanks for sharing about your email successes. I will have to check that service out. I hope your new year is starting out well Enstine!

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