How to not get emails labeled as Spam by the recipients

Often, the sender reputation can go down because of the high spam complaint rate. This happens when emails look suspicious to the recipients and they manually send them to the Spam folder.

Unfounded spam reporting can happen to anyone. Generally, there are a couple of patterns that can make emails look like spam to the recipient:

  • an email was unsolicited
  • an odd subject line that doesn’t contain any specific information or is just a set of numbers and symbols
  • generic greeting
  • multiple recipients
  • poor grammar and spelling
  • bright text color

When such email is received, it is likely to be marked as spam and, in case of a high number of complaints, cause an email address to be blocked or suspended by the ESP. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening. Here’s what can be done:

  1. Ask people to subscribe.
    Recipients rarely flag the emails they’ve subscribed to as spam. Cold emails generally receive a higher number of spam complaints. Email marketers can minimize the number of spam complaints by asking the recipients to subscribe to emails if the presented offer, service, or product seems like something they’d be interested in. 
  2. Let people decide how often they want to get emails.
    Frequent emails can anger even those who have willingly subscribed. Emails should not be sent more often than the recipients have opted-in for. It’s best to let the recipients choose and change the email frequency by including a link to the email preferences page at the end of the emails. 
  3. Let the recipients know if you are sending an advertisement.
    It’s considered a sign of good manners to introduce oneself, provide contact information and explain the reason for writing at the beginning of a cold email. This gives the recipient all the necessary info to make a judgment on the sender’s credibility. Adding a simple sentence at the bottom of the email to let the recipient know what kind of email they are receiving and why is a great option for inbound campaigns. Besides being a common courtesy, such a clarification is also required by most email laws and regulations. 
  4. Don’t use misleading subject lines or pre-header.
    Using misleading subject lines and pre-headers might bring a high open-rate, but it will surely be followed by confusion, disappointment, and anger. No one likes to be fooled, and a customer relationship that starts off a lie is unlikely to be fruitful. It’s a good practice to use the subject line and the pre-header to concisely describe the main reason for writing and present just enough of the offer to grab the recipient’s attention, avoiding click-bait and irrelevant information. 
  5. Make the sender name trustworthy and recognizable.
    If the recipient knows and recognizes the sender name in their inbox, they’re more likely to open the email and interact with it without labeling it as spam. Trustworthiness can be created through consistent use of the same sender name in addition to a company name, for example: Maryna from 
  6. Avoid spam words.
    Words like free, [N]% off, now, etc., do not look trustworthy to both the spam filters and the recipients, and people often mark such emails as spam without even opening them. You can find (and download) a list of 550+ spam trigger words here
  7. Always use personalization variables.
    Personalization makes emails look like they were crafted specifically for this recipient. This doesn’t just make emails look real and relevant, but can also improve the click-through rate. Use personalization in both the subject line and the email body. You can also add custom personalization variables to your email drip campaign – here’s how
  8. Minimize the number of colors, fonts, and capitalized words within one email.
    Unsurprisingly, all of these increase the spam complaint rate. Receiving a badly designed email copy can destroy any trust in the sender, especially considering that using brightly colored text and capitalized keywords are the signature of spammers. It’s recommended to stick to a single easy-to-read color and font. 
  9. Give people the right to unsubscribe.
    All marketing emails must have an unsubscribe link or give the recipients an option to unsubscribe by replying to the email. Not giving subscribers a way to opt-out doesn’t just break multiple international laws, but is also guaranteed to land the sender on the spam list very fast. Read our step-by-step guide on how to add an unsubscribe link to emails to find more detailed instructions on how to do it.

Keep these tips in mind to minimize the number of recipient spam complaints.

Watch our video to learn how to prevent your outreach campaign from getting spammed.

Read about the technical side of the Spam filters and how you can avoid being labeled as Spam by the ESP here.

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