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Why are my emails going to spam?

The spam folder is where your email service provider drops unsolicited emails.

The word “unsolicited” means, you didn’t request for the message. You didn’t give permission to receive that email message. And you probably won’t like that email message.

Gmail is, no doubt, the best and most popular email service in the world.

Gmail has been brutal with unsolicited emails. Their algorithm drops any unwelcome email into the spam folder. No wonder Gmail is the most popular email service.

My Gmail inbox is clean. I only see email messages from individuals and brands I know and like in my Gmail inbox.

My Gmail Inbox is clean

The Gmail spam folder isn’t a place you want your email messages to go. Because if your message lands there, the recipient or subscriber may never see your messages again.

Email spam has been growing since the 1990s. They are used to transfer virus to recipients’ computers. Therefore, Gmail takes emails it believes is spam very seriously.

When you open the spam folder in Gmail or other providers, you’ll see a warning reporting an email message as spam.

Email lands in the spam folder

Spamming is a crime in the United States, Europe, and many other countries. Your business could get sued for it.

When subscribers and customers think a company is spamming them, there’s no way they’ll ever buy from that business again.

So, if you’re a business owner, you should care a lot about your emails ending in the spam folder or being reported as a spam message. And if your emails are already going to the spam folders of subscribers, you have to deal with it immediately.

Online shoppers rarely recognize and respect companies they see in their spam folders.

8 reasons why your emails are going to spam

There are eight reasons why your emails are going to the spam folder.

If you want your emails to go to subscribers’ inboxes again, you need to know what you’re doing wrong. It is then you can take the right steps toward making your emails go into the right folder.

1. Recipients didn’t grant you permission

Dishonest salespeople get their hands on targeted lists without permission.

I’ve seen people sell trade or membership association lists, and event attendees lists. Lists like these are only visible to affiliates or members of the associations.

But, sometimes, they get sold to third-party advertisers and spammers illegally.

I’ve also received emails from companies associated with some new connections on LinkedIn. This is because my LinkedIn connections can view my contact details.

If you’re on LinkedIn, you should know that your connections can see your contact details.

LinkedIn connections can view your contact details

While I think this is a good feature by LinkedIn, some marketers are abusing it by including LinkedIn members in email lists they didn’t give permission to be in.

There’s nothing wrong with messaging people who haven’t given you permission to do that It becomes wrong when you add them to an email list without their consent.

People can do three things when they receive emails they didn’t sign up for:

  1. They eighter ignore and delete it
  2. Or, they complain about it
  3. Or, they tolerate it for a while to see if they’ll get any value from it

The truth is web users, do 1 and 2 more than 3.

The chance of converting someone who didn’t give you their email address is too low to consider doing it.

When subscribers ignore and delete your emails, it’s bad for the ISP hosting your email account. Lots of unopened emails send a negative sign to email service providers like Gmail, Outlook and iCloud.

When subscribers complain about your email messages by marking it as spam, it’s also bad for the ISP hosting your email account. It affects the ability of your email marketing service provider to land your future messages in recipients’ inboxes.

If your email subscribers haven’t given you the permission to send them emails, it’s going to affect your ability to get into their inboxes.

That’s why it’s important you don’t buy email lists from anyone.

Your email service provider will know that your messages aren’t going to subscribers’ inboxes. That tells them that you may not have permission. It’s a sign that your list is low-quality.

Most email service providers will want to protect their reputation to do business with other customers. They’ll kick you out of their system when they see that you don’t have a good email list.

2. Your IP address has been flagged for spam

Most email marketing solutions like MailChimp, Constant Contact and AWeber share multiple clients on the same server.

For example, tens or hundreds of other businesses can be using the same IP address your email account is hosted using. It’s called shared hosting.

What is shared hosting

If an IP address is flagged for spam by a major email service provider like Gmail, for example, that means all emails coming from that server will not deliver on Gmail addresses.

So, a single bad client can affect other clients on the same server.

If you’re not sure your email messages are delivering despite having the full permission of your subscribers to send them messages, it could because the IP address of the server that hosts your email account has been flagged for spam.

The best way to deal with this is to either complain to the email hosting company or move your email list to a different host to see if your messages will perform better. Additionally, you should correctly set up SPF records. This is a good way to authorize email sender IP and increase its reputation.

Google, Outlook, and other email service providers backlist IP addresses in order to protect their users from fraud.

When they see that lots of spam messages are coming from a particular IP address, they simply backlist it to ensure the safety of their users.

3. Your open rates are too low

An open rate is the percentage of people who opened an email campaign.

For example, if you send an email message to 100 subscribers in your email list and they all delivered, and only 10 people opened it, it means you have an open rate of 10%.

How does your email marketing platform know that someone has opened an email?

When you send an email message to your subscribers, the platform adds a piece of code that requests a tiny, invisible image from their web servers.

So, when a subscriber opens your email message, the image is downloaded, and they can report to you that the recipient has opened your message.

An open rate between 20% – 40% is great.

Achieving an open rate above 80% is extremely hard. A hundred percent open rate is impossible.

While an open rate below 5% is considered worse.

If your open rate is below 5%, then there’s a problem. Your emails may be landing in the spam folder.

And if it’s already in the spam folder, you should expect it to get worse than that.

So, your open rate is something you should track and try to improve each time you send an email campaign.

4. Most subscribers have forgotten they subscribed to your email list

This has happened to me quite a few times. It usually occurs when the site I subscribed to don’t send me messages a few days, weeks or even months after I joined their email list.

A long time ago, I subscribed to a waiting list for a product launch. The product didn’t launch for over five months after I’d subscribed to the site and they never sent me any message.

By the time the product finally launched, I’d forgotten I joined their waiting list. They kept sending me emails after.

When it got to a point I couldn’t take it anymore, I decided to mark their messages as spam.

It’s an unforgiven mistake you shouldn’t make when collecting emails.

Make sure you send messages to your subscribers, keeping your product on top of their minds. They are lots of things people worry about each day.

Here’s how the team at Robinhood kept in touch with their waiting list.

Robinhood staying in touch

Keep sending emails. When you do that, people will remember your brand. They’ll keep anticipating your product launch.

5. Most subscribers on your list are no longer using their emails

We move on from things at times. Emails are not an exception.

People stop using their mobile line and get a new one. The same thing happens to emails.

It could be because of threats or vulnerability. It could be because they are receiving too many spam messages. It could be because of privacy.

Sometimes, web users want to have a new email. We love new things. If a nice email address is available, you may want to try it too.

Sometimes, sadly, an email user may become dead.

I’ve dropped a lot of emails over the years. Created new emails. Sometimes, for personal reasons. Sometimes, for business reasons.

Email dropping is nothing new.

At least, 30% of emails collected 5 years ago are already abandoned.

That’s why I recommend you continue to collect new emails and remove subscribers that haven’t opened your emails in a long time.

Your emails may be going to the spam folder because most of your subscribers aren’t opening your messages.

6. Your subject lines are deceptive

People judge emails by their subject lines.

The subject line is the first thing you see before you open an email message. You can use the subject line to make a good first impression on the subscriber.

my current unread emails

According to a study, 47% of subscribers decide whether to click, or not, based on the subject line alone.

I know if an email will be interesting after reading its subject line. If I click an email message because its subject line is interesting, and the copy fails to meet the expectation set by the headline, I may decide not click on emails from the sender again.

When someone promises something in their subject line and their email copy doesn’t fulfill the promise made, it means they’ve deceived me to click the email.

A marketer that sends deceptive subject lines can be sure that subscribers will soon get tired of his/her tricks. The marketer can be certain his/her emails will soon be landing in the spam folder.

So, if your emails are landing in the spam folder, you should ask yourself the below question:

Are you sending emails with deceptive subject lines?

7. Your “from” address is false

Most email mailers allow you to change the “from” address.

For example, you can change an email message “from” address from “” to “”

Email providers like Gmail and Outlook give their users the option to see the IP address where the email message is coming from.

The issue is that web users don’t use this option.

Yes, an email you thought is from your friend could be coming from a spammer.

Fortunately, email service providers like Gmail and Outlook are getting better at recognizing fake addresses that aren’t coming from the right server.

They simply drop the email into the spam folder.

I received this email from Andrew Chen not long ago. I clicked on “Show original” in the list of options Gmail presented.

Gmail show original

Now, I can see the IP address of the server that sent the email.

verify the ip address

I could see that the message came from MailChimp Mailer.

I could also verify the IP address too. I confirmed that the server is owned by MailChimp and is based in Atlanta, Georgia from a simple Google search.

So, if you’re using a Mailer where you change the sender address, your email message will end up in the spam folder.

8. Your email message contains spam words

One of the fastest ways to end up in the spam folder is to use spam words.

Spam words are words or phrases email service providers have recognized as common words in spam emails.

Once two or more of these words are in an email message, they drop it in the spam folder.

Below are some common spam words:

  • Act now! Don’t hesitate!
  • Avoid bankruptcy
  • Be your own boss
  • Calling creditors
  • Join millions of Americans
  • No disappointment
  • Viagra and other drugs
  • Credit card offers
  • Find out anything
  • What are you waiting for?
  • Will not believe your eyes

These are just a tiny list of the gigantic spam words email service providers have in their algorithm that controls which messages go to inboxes and the spam folder.

Don’t overpromise in your emails. Keep things simple. That will help you avoid going into the spam folder.


Here at GrowthFunnel, we’ve been receiving emails asking the question: “Why are my emails going to spam?”

We thought we could create the best resource that answers this question.

If you want to build an email list of loyal subscribers and fans that follow you on social media, you need a tool like GrowthFunnel.

GrowthFunnel helps you collect emails on your site with ease.

Sign up for free today.