1. Home
  2. Email
  3. Here’s Why Emails Go to Spam

Here’s Why Emails Go to Spam

Here’s Why Emails Go to Spam (and What to Do About It)

Research from the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric found, “Email had a median ROI of 122 percent—more than four times higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search.”

So it definitely gets the job done.

But there’s an issue that all email marketers must contend with and that’s falling into the dreaded black hole that is the spam folder.

Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report discovered that 20 percent of all commercial emails wind up as spam.

Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report

And let’s be honest. An email is almost always a goner at the point.

I mean how many people are actually going to take the time to sift through their spam folder to see if maybe, just maybe your email was inadvertently diverted there?

My guess would be zero.

This is hugely problematic because the average open rate is only 32 percent and even lower for certain industries.

So when you factor in emails going to spam, that number diminishes even more.

Right now I’m going to discuss some common reasons why emails go to spam and how to ensure that yours don’t wind up there

The 10 Most Common Reasons Why Emails Go to Spam

This article is quite in-depth. To make life easier, I’ve broken each reason down in more detail. Click a link below to jump to a particular section of interest.

1. You Weren’t Given Permission

2. The Sender Information is Inaccurate

3. There’s No Physical Address

4. You’re Using Spam Trigger Words

5. Your Headline Is Weak

6. You’ve Included Attachments

7. There’s a Large Image with Minimal Text

8. There’s No Opt-Out Link

9. You’re Sending Emails to Inactive Addresses

10. You Have Incorrect Spelling and Grammar

Before delving into each reason, we need to discuss…


First, let me briefly touch on the CAN-SPAM Act.

This is a law that was enacted back in 2003 and sets national standards on commercial email.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, I recommend taking a look at the CAN-SPAM Act compliance guide from the FTC.

This highlights the main requirements and outlines non-compliance issues that can get you into trouble. It’s fairly short but will quickly get up to speed.

Some areas it touches on include not using deceptive email subject lines, including a physical mailing address, telling recipients how to opt-out, and honoring opt-out requests.

Considering the fact that violations can carry penalties of up to $41,484, you’ll want to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Besides the ugly potential penalties, failing to comply with these requirements could get your emails sent to spam.

So this is definitely something to be aware of, especially if you’re new to email marketing.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

1. You Weren’t Given Permission 

The first rule of email marketing is to always have permission before sending an email.

It should go without saying, but you should never buy a list of emails or obtain them through any other unscrupulous means.

Not only is it unethical, but it’s also ineffective and can potentially land you in some hot legal water.

So email addresses should only be added when someone willingly opts-in. It’s really that simple.

Otherwise, there’s a good chance that it will end up as spam.

Or in a worst-case scenario, you could be subject to a fine.

2. The Sender Information is Inaccurate

Here’s what the FTC has to say about the sender information.

“You’re ‘From,’ ‘To,’ ‘Reply-To,’ and routing information—including the originating domain name and email address—must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.”

In other words, you must clearly state who you are (or who your company is) and not include any inaccurate information that could mislead someone.

For example, the sender information on my email might say “Emil from Sleeknote.”

3. There’s No Physical Address

This may be surprising to some email marketers.

But the FTC also states, “Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.”

Updated on August 30, 2023

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles