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How to stop emails going to spam in Gmail?

13 min read
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Sales prospecting is a prolonged process that needs a lot of effort.

From finding a new customer to landing your email directly in their spam folder. The latter often happens, which leads to less engagement while you as a sales professional are trying your best to break the ice.

Globally, 17% of emails sent never make it to the primary inbox folder due to spam and promotions filters. This drastically affects the email deliverability of your campaign(sequence).So, you might be wondering, how to stop emails going to spam in Gmail?

Before getting into the question, let’s first explore why you should care about spam deliveries to Gmail.

This will help us understand the phenomenon better by managing expectations and making changes and corrections earlier in the sales process.

How spam deliveries to Gmail impact you?

When your sales emails filter into Gmail’s spam, it isn’t just about your prospecting efforts falling through.

It has consequences reaching far wider than lower response rates. More of your emails are likely to redirect to Gmail spam filters, and this impacts the conversion rate in further stages of the process. 

All of this would mean more of your emails will directly filter into spam without ever reaching your prospect’s primary inbox.

As a result, your initial emails, and follow-ups(steps), aren’t being read, making your outreach efforts futile. This will slow down your sales cycle, reduce yield, and consequently impact your bottom line.

How does the spam filter in Gmail work?

Gmail uses a combination of AI and machine learning in its spam filter. Here is how the spam filter works in Gmail:

1. Reputation of your email sending domain

The very first thing Gmail checks is if your domain and IP address is present in any blacklists. You need to show that you’re an authentic sender.  If your domain passes the first step, the next step it checks is the content.

2. Content of your email

Gmail checks your email content for any malicious links and the presence of spammy/promotional words.

3.User’s action

Once your email passes all the above criteria, Gmail checks your user engagement. First they see if your recipients are deleting the email before even opening it, because they think your subject line is misleading or not relevant. Secondly, if your email is being marked as spam frequently by your users.

4. Sending history

New IP addresses should be warmed up when using a dedicated IP. For the first 2-24 hours, new IP addresses are temporarily blocked by Gmail. A few emails are then delivered to the inbox after that to check the recipient’s reaction. 

Most future emails will most likely be categorized as spam email if this initial test results in a high complaint rate. In contrast, if recipients click “This is not spam,” Gmail will consider the address safe for inboxing.

These are some of the ways through which Gmail spam filters work. Now let us learn how to prevent emails landing in spam.

How to stop emails going to spam in Gmail?

In this section we’ll detail out 12 tips on how to stop emails going to spam.

12 tips to avoid emails going to spam in Gmail

1. Create warm connections before reaching out
2. Use short and relevant subject lines
3. Remove spam triggering keywords
4. Optimize content for response rates
5. Ask users to create a filter
6. Avoid spam reports
7. Use the right email client
8. Follow the laws
9. Remove unnecessary HTML and URLs
10. Stay clear from blacklists
11. Add domain authentication records
12. Test your emails

1. Create warm connections before reaching out

One of the driving factors for low response rates and spam reporting happens to be out-of-context, unsolicited emailing.

When prospects receive email messages from unknown senders, they’re least likely to open it, let alone respond. This is the case for the majority of sales and promotional emails. 

However, if you connect with your prospect outside of email – say, social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter, you can start your conversation over there.

Social media messaging channels are less noisy compared to email, and they promote connecting and networking more than is possible over email.

Suppose your potential customers are using some of the rare and unique social media platforms unavailable in your region. In that case, you can use various services to get secure connections and develop your sales outreach.

Once you’ve introduced yourself and start conversing over social, you can then continue the engagement over email, now with a greater chance of getting open and responses.

2. Use short and relevant subject lines

As soon as your email lands in your prospects’ inbox — the subject line is the first thing they see.

Depending on how you’ve framed it, it could make or break your chances of engaging with them. Based on what you know about the prospects through your research, craft subject lines that appeal to their interests and compel them to act. 

While doing your research, look for your prospect’s interests and activities that can be drawn in parallel with your products and services.

This will help set the conversation’s tone and topic in line with your prospect’s needs, making it easier for them to open and respond to your emails, rather than finding it irrelevant and marking it spam.

Pro-Tip: Personalize your subject lines for better open and reply rates.

You can easily personalize your subject lines using the Saleshandy merge tags.

Personalizing email using Saleshandy's merge tags

3. Remove spam triggering keywords

One of the ways email services can recognize and filter promotional content is by scanning the content for certain keywords.

Marketers and salespeople often use phrases and words meant to capture prospects’ attention, in hopes of getting better results from their campaigns(sequences). 

Irrespective of your content quality and intent – these keywords end up triggering content filters on Gmail.

In Gmail’s case, where emails also filter into folders like promotions and updates, filtering caused by spammy keywords has a much more pronounced impact on your email engagement. 

Here are some of the most common spam trigger words:

  • Free
  • Sale
  • Offers
  • Discount
  • Best prices
  • Clearance
  • Be your own boss
  • Expect to earn
  • Get paid
  • No credit card

Check out a list of these words and exclude these keywords wherever possible.

4. Optimize content for response rates

Among other signals, email service providers like Gmail also monitor your email’s engagement in order to judge its intent. This includes open rates and response rates.

Getting responses on your outreach signals to Gmail that your content is relevant and marks your future email messages as important for the receiver. 

To enable this – make your email content more action-oriented. Ask questions that are likely to receive an answer, offer value and help realize your product’s value proposition.

Make your email content relatable and engaging for your prospects, making it easier for them to respond and take the conversation forward.

Saleshandy helps you keep up with your content engagement with its real-time writing assistance feature. It offers four real-time suggestions while you’re drafting your email to ensure your email has a good deliverability.

5. Ask users to create a filter

If you’re reaching out to your prospects and not getting responses, it’s likely that your emails might already be in their spam folder.

In such cases, you’ll have to ask them to create a custom filter for your emails and mark them “Never send it to spam”. This ensures all future messages get filtered as per the new settings.

Creating custom filter in user's Gmail account

Since your emails are probably delivered to Gmail’s spam folder, you’ll have to reach out to your prospects on alternative platforms where you might have better access to them.

These can include social media platforms, like Twitter or LinkedIn, where your prospects already might be active.

6. Avoid spam reports

In continuation from what we discussed around subject lines – getting spam reports on your emails in Gmail is one of the quickest ways to ruin your sender reputation.

A bad sender reputation is why emails go to spam instead of inbox in Gmail, and again, this wouldn’t be limited to Gmail. Email blacklists are public and shared between all email service providers.

Prospects mark emails as spam for various reasons. One of them is the content being irrelevant.

Unsolicited promotional emails, along with frequent follow-ups(steps) also tend to get spam reports. This reinforces the importance of warm connections built outside of email, conducting thorough research and personalizing content.

7. Use the right email client

On the technical side of email content – your email sending IP address is also factored in when it comes to filtering your email.

Remember email blacklists?

Well, blacklists also store spammy and promotional IP addresses, apart from addresses and sending domains. 

Your sending IP address depends on which email client you use. For example, if you’re using email marketing services to send out your sales email campaigns(sequences) in bulk, they’re likely to land in spam as their addresses are shared among many senders. 

Instead, use services like Saleshandy which help you send personalized cold emails from your existing Gmail, Outlook or SMTP account.

Saleshandy sends emails using Google/Microsoft servers, just like it does from their web apps.

8. Follow the laws

The CAN-SPAM act is a law established for commercial messages and emails to avoid the spread of misleading information.

The act gives the recipient the right to stop receiving emails from you if they find it inappropriate. You can also be penalized if you fail to keep the law.

As per the law, it is prohibited to include any misleading subject line or send emails after the recipient has shown a disinterest (i.e. Unsubscribed for your email list).

9. Remove unnecessary HTML and URLs

In continuation to the last point, your email’s HTML content is also likely to be altered based on which email client you use.

Too much HTML in your email is a sign of multimedia heavy email content, which is considered promotional in nature. Important, formal emails are text-based and don’t have much in terms of embedded multimedia, which is why HTML is used in emails. 

An ideal text to HTML ratio is 60:40, where at least 60% of the body content should be text.

If you’re using a third-party email client – you’re likely to find an option to edit the email’s HTML content using an inbuilt editor. Using this editor, you can remove or add HTML code to your email.

HTML code in Saleshandy’s email editor

Pictured above, you can see the HTML code in Saleshandy’s email editor, with minimal use of HTML. Emails with minimal HTML are delivered better in the primary inbox.

10. Stay clear from blacklists

As we discussed earlier – getting into a blacklist would mean your future emails being filtered into spam, across all email services, not just Gmail.

Using a few online testing tools, you can check if your address is part of public blacklists. 

What do you do if you find yourself on one of these blacklists? You can simply reach out to administrators of these lists and ask them to remove your addresses, stating valid reasons.

The process is manual and might be time-consuming, but worth the effort. Your emails will keep going to spam unless you get yourself delisted from such blacklists.

While you’re at it – tweak your outreach process and tools so you’re not in the same position again.

11. Add domain authentication records

If you’re using your own domain to send out sales emails, make sure you’ve added authentication records.

Domain authentication records are used to identify and authenticate emails coming from your domain by email service providers, so they know the emails are actually being sent by the domain owners.

Emails without authenticated domains are considered to be spammy and malicious, and hence, filtered into the spam folder. There are three authentication records that you need to add to your domain – DKIM, DMARC and  SPF records.

Adding domain authentication records in email account

12. Test your emails

Once you’ve set up the template of your sales email, as the last step, make sure to test your email.

Send it to yourself and your colleagues to check formatting and if your emails are landing in the primary folder. 

You can also use tools like Mail-tester that check your email content and if your address is part of blacklists. It also provides you suggestions to help improve the deliverability of your emails further based on the analysis.

Get here: 11 Email Deliverability Tools to Land In The Primary Inbox

Stop emails from going to spam

Start implementing the above-mentioned strategies and stop emails from going to spam. This separates your emails from hundreds of other emails your prospects get each day.

Consequently, it’ll get your emails delivered to their inbox every time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the most common reasons for email landing in spam?

Some common reasons for email landing in the spam folder are:

  • Usage of spam trigger words
  • Promotional subject lines
  • Too much HTML content in the email
  • Not following the laws
  • No unsubscribe link
  • Domain reputation is not good
  • Your recipients marked the email as spam
  • Using link shorteners

2. What are Spam Filters?

Email Service Providers (ESPs) put spam filters in place to stop their subscribers from receiving inappropriate and low-quality emails. They would reach your primary inbox if spam filters were not in place, ruining the email experience for everyone.

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