11 ways to swerve the spam folder


Want to avoid your sales and marketing emails going to junk? We’ll show you 11 ways to avoid spam folders and get into customer inboxes.

Whether you’re a sales newbie or a marketing pro, it’s likely you’ll be asking yourself “how do I stop my emails going to junk?”. Knowing how to avoid the dreaded junk folder is crucial knowledge if you want to bag new business and keep your clients happy with email. 

The first and most important thing to understand is what causes someone’s inbox to mark a message an email as junk… and it all starts with the spam filter.

What is a spam filter?

Think of a spam filter as a bouncer for your inbox. These digital defenders keep out harmful and unwanted emails, using different triggers to decide which emails are legit and which ones should be blocked. 

When you think of spam emails, it’s easy to imagine scammers sending viruses or scams to our inbox. But here’s the thing: your totally safe emails can sometimes be marked as spam by the recipient’s inbox. 

That’s why it’s really important to understand how the junk mail process works, so you can avoid getting caught in the spam filter and get your emails in front of the people you want to talk to.  

What triggers an email to go to junk?

It’s no longer just the “Lose 10 pounds in five minutes👙💪” and “Earn thousands from home🤑💸” emails that get sent to the junk folder. Email providers look at user behavior, not just content, to decide what emails get pride of place in the inbox, and which get sent to the depths of cyberspace.  

For example:

User behavior that flags emails as junk:

  • Manually marking you as junk
  • Deleting your messages before reading 

User behavior that marks emails as safe:

  • Regularly opening, clicking through, and replying
  • Manually marking you as a safe sender
  • Moving to a dedicated folder within their inbox
  • Adding you to their address book 

That’s why creating emails that users enjoy is so important. Spamming isn’t just annoying, but it hinders your chances of getting in front of the right people in the future.

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Using Outbase to create and send your sales emails is a super-smart way to create engaging emails that appeal to your audience.

Choose from 37 different personalization to make each message feel incredibly personal to individuals, whether you’re reaching out to 10 or 1,000 people.

The more personal the email, the more relevant the message… and the less chance you have of ending up in the spam folder.

See how it works

Let’s dive into how you can avoid spam filters in a little more detail.

11 ways to avoid the junk folder

Avoiding the dreaded spam filters can feel almost impossible. And for good reason! Advanced screening technologies make it tougher than ever for your sales and marketing emails to reach the intended recipient in the first place, let alone have the chance to end up in their junk folder. 

So what can you do to avoid getting flagged, especially when you’re reaching out to new people who probably haven’t heard of you?

There are hundreds of different factors at play, but here are 11 of the most important ones that you can take action on right now.

1. Target the right people

Do the work up front to make sure you’re reaching out to the right people. The more relevant you are to your recipients, the less likely you are to get stuck in junk.

And don’t get hung up trying to reach as many prospects as possible. Sending a relevant message to 50 people who fit your ideal customer profile will be far more effective than sending 500 messages to people who have no need for your product. 

Plus, if you’re sending too many emails at once, it’s a surefire way to get blacklisted. And if that happens, you’ll be stopped from sending sales and marketing emails altogether 😬.

Read more about how to find the right customers for your business

2. Don’t buy your sales data

Buying contact lists is a really bad idea. They rarely return good results, can damage your reputation, and even get you on the wrong side of privacy laws. 

And the info you buy from data brokers goes out of date really quickly, meaning you risk getting undelivered mail from inactive inboxes. If you keep doing this, your domain reputation takes a hit, flagging to spam filters that you’re not to be trusted. 

3. Keep your sender address consistent 

Avoid sending emails from addresses that look suspicious or unnatural, such as long combinations of letters and numbers. And don’t use a misleading “from” name either, that’s what scammers do. Choose an authentic sender address and name – and stick to it.

4. Use a decent email service provider

Which email service provider you use will affect email deliverability rates. Reputable providers can refuse to accept emails sent from unknown or disreputable ones, so make sure yours is legit.  

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Emails not sending? Check if you’re blacklisted.

A blacklist is a list of IP addresses or domains that are known to send spam. If you end up on one, your mail server won’t even send your emails, let alone have the chance to get caught in spam filters.

If you’re struggling to get your emails delivered, it’s worth checking whether you’re blacklisted on one of the publicly available lists.

5. Avoid the bounce

Keep an eye on your bounce rate – if it gets too high, email providers will start lowering your sending reputation, making your emails destined for the junk folder. 

6. Write honest subject lines

You want your subject line to be compelling, but not misleading. It should be an honest reflection of the content within the message. Also, don’t use lots of numbers or special characters, shout in CAPS LOCK, or use prefixes such as Re and Fwd when there isn’t a previous conversation. 

7. Steer clear of the spam trigger words

Some words are more spammy than others. Anything relating to finance, money, and winning things will set off spam triggers, but there are loads more that can flag your email too (when creating emails in Outbase, your AI-powered personal writing assistant will flag these for you). 

8. Don’t add too many links

A link in your email is fine, but too many and it starts to look spammy. Junk filters monitor your “text-to-link” ratio, so keep it to one or two if you want to get into inboxes. 

9. Don’t add too many images

Along with monitoring your links, email providers check your “image-to-text” ratio. Spam filters can’t view images, so they mark them as a potential risk. If you have more pictures than text, you’re more likely to end up in junk. 

10. Have a plain text version of each email

HTML emails are lovely to look at, but you need a text-only version as well. They’re not as fun, but you’ll get flagged if you don’t offer that option, so build it into your process.

11. Don’t attach files

Email providers view all attachments as potentially harmful, so if you want to send your recipients something extra, try directing them to a relevant web page instead. 

Get your emails into inboxes with Outbase

Outbase helps you craft emails that capture the attention of your customers, not spam filters. 

Our vast database uses lots of different sources to make sure each contact is current and legit, meaning your emails won’t end up in a deserted inbox or blocked by spam filters.

Try Outbase for free today – your campaign could be live in just five minutes.

Written by:
Colette Hagan-Young Content Writer