The most recent data says that the ROI on email marketing is 360% or $36 for every $1 spent. That’s huge, especially when you consider that most marketers agree a 5:1 ROI is an excellent result for most digital strategies. Yet, plenty of businesses are left scratching their heads, dealing with low open rates, and asking themselves, “If email marketing is so great, why are my emails going to spam?”
If it’s any consolation, filters save us from the bulk of the 122.3 billion spam emails sent every day, making up 85% of all email traffic.
Of course, that doesn’t solve your problem, so the trick here is to key in on exactly what is about your emails that make spam filters go all Metal Gear Solid alert when you hit send.
Besides, not solving the underlying problem can have consequences beyond limiting your marketing abilities. In some cases, toxic email domains have been reported so often that they can’t even internal emails to other people using the same domain.
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of three common culprits that create toxic domains and answer the question of “Why are my emails going to spam?”
CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
The CAN-SPAM Act was passed in 2003 to help quell the hellacious tide of spam emails. It dictates that any marketing communication must comply with a set of standards set forth by the act, which includes:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
- Identify the message as an ad.
- Tell recipients where you’re located.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails from you.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
You can read the full scope of those rules on the FTC website, but suffice to say that this is a law that is taken very seriously. There are no exemptions given for B2B marketing emails, emails sent by a marketing management company on your behalf, or any other kind of commercial concept that comes that is outgoing from your domain.
These laws are the reason that commercial communications are so prone to wind up in the spam folder. If filters detect that you are breaking compliance, it won’t land in its intended inbox destination.
Businesses that aren’t aware of CAN-SPAM laws may find themselves in violation without even knowing they’ve crossed a line. The most common practices that land communications in the spam folder violate rules 1, 2, 5, and 6. Link stuffing is also a concern.
So, why are your emails going to spam? Let’s discuss:
You’re Using Misleading Subject Lines
If your email subject lines “trick” the receiver into opening the email, you violate CAN-SPAM rules 1 and 2.
Litmus, a fantastic blog all about email marketing, shared common categories of misleading subject lines in their article “Re: Misleading Subject Lines:”
- Being deceptive about the sender of the email. For example, pretending to be a friend or family member to manipulate the receiver into opening an email.
- Implying that you have had previous exchanges within the same email thread.
- Conveying urgency when there is none.
- Stating that the recipient took action (like placing an order) that they didn’t do.
All of the above screenshots were of actual spam or promotional emails I’ve received in the last week, and all of them went into the trash unread.
The ones that do manage to catch me on a bad day suffer the same fate. Contacts don’t want to be pushed into a panic thinking their identity has been stolen or that they forgot to respond to something so that they’ll open a promotional email.
You’re Sending Emails to People Who Don’t Want Them
First of all, you need to know that holding your email list hostage is not only super not cool. It’s also super not legal.
According to our ol’ buddy CAN-SPAM, specifically rules 5 and 6, all marketing emails must have an opt-out or unsubscribe button attached. You must also clarify that when a visitor gives you their email address, you intend to send them marketing communications.
Neglecting to do so can cost your business $43,792 per email sent. As in, if you send an email to 10 people, you’ll be paying $437,920 in damages.
That’s one of the main reasons why you should never purchase an email list. The people on that list have no idea that they were “voluntold” to subscribe by the list seller, and your domain is far more likely to be marked as toxic as those unwilling recipients report you for spam.
Furthermore, make it abundantly clear where subscribers can opt out of emails. You don’t have to make it a vast, blinking button, but it should be visible at the end of each email.
Then, honor that request within ten business days.
You’re Link Farming or Guest Blog Spamming to Less-Than-Credible Sites
Outlinks are vital to your SEO strategy, but much like buttercream frosting and cats, you can have way too much of a good thing.
Back in the day, websites trying to rank would keyword and link stuff their content. Often, this consisted of a small network of sites that would repeatedly outlink each other to increase each other’s domain authority.
Google quickly caught on to the ploy and started penalizing this behavior to help curb it. Now, link farming or guest blog spamming could be a critical factor in your email marketing success.
If you participate in this practice to up your credibility, be aware that it’s likely doing the exact opposite. Email filters can detect suspicious sites and probably toss your communications into the spam folder to avoid phishing scams.
Even if you don’t link farm, you should be very cautious about the number of raw links you put in your emails. Instead of pasting the actual URL, hyperlink snippets of text within the email to legitimate sites ONLY.
Escape the Spam Folder
Struggling through the murky waters of email marketing? Still wondering, “Why are my emails going to spam?”
We’ve run successful email campaigns for our clients that never rely on shady, spammy tactics to get the job done.
Instead, we depend on a failproof strategy of compelling content, exciting graphics, and a little old-fashioned elbow grease in the form of data tracking to ensure your contacts are getting precisely what they need.