12 tips on how to avoid spam folder in Gmail
Why Is Email Spam Still a Problem?
Do you know how many zeros there are in a billion? Nine!
The issue is huge—because every second email that you send goes to the spam folder .
There are three main reasons why the spam rate is too high worldwide:
- Each year, people send more and more emails.
- 73% of all emails are unwanted promotions for products and services.
- Email services are constantly improving their spam filters because of the increasing number of unwanted emails being sent.
So if you apply cold email outreach as one of your main sales channels, then you need to be acknowledged with spam filters on Gmail. Spam filters use comprehensive machine algorithms to check emails for spam. And you should know these like the back of your hand.
Spam Score Influence Factors
During the good old days, spamming emails were identified only because users put them onto a blacklist. This was not a big problem because, statistically, only 1 out of 10 recipients was ready to click “It’s spam” if they saw an unwanted email. The other 9 recipients preferred just to ignore, delete, or unsubscribe from these emails.
But email services, along with AI, get smarter every day….
Nowadays, other behavioral factors play a crucial role as well. Your Spam Score can be increased or decreased, if recipients:
- open and respond to your emails. ↑
- delete your emails without even opening them. ↓
- add your email to spam on their own. ↓
- marked your emails from the spam folder as non-spam. ↑
- permanently keep them in spam. ↓
- mark your email as important or mark it with stars. ↑
transfer your email to their inbox from other folders (spam, promotions, etc.). ↑
That is why it’s become harder to avoid spam filters.
How to Understand That You Have a Problem with Your Spam Score When Sending Cold Emails?
The worst part of this is that the email service providers don’t alert the sender, so you remain in the dark about your email status until your entire domain is blacklisted.
You might still find yourself thinking that this article is not for you. Well, don't make up your mind so soon, and first, answer two questions:
- Do you send cold outreach emails? If yes, you should read on.
What is your email open rate? Is it below 60%? Sorry, but it seems you might have a spam issue too….
We'll show you how to find out if your cold email is marked as spam and how to fix it.
Your open rate is very important because if recipients ignore your emails for a long period of time, this will impact your Spam Score significantly. Conversely, if users often open your emails and reply to them, this will increase your credibility with the email spam filter. Therefore, as your customer reacts to the email positively and clicks the links for further engagement, the number of other people who will get your emails in the future increases. That is why the quality of your content, the customer's reaction and behavior, and the proper settings are the cornerstones of your successful delivery of information.
Since you’re never warned about your emails being blocked by spam folders, you have to check everything yourself. If you start to have sending issues and suspect spam triggers are at work, there are several ways for you to check your blacklist status.
To identify issues at early stages and check technical settings for spam blocking, use the following tools:
- https://www.gmass.co/inbox - As a test, you will need to send your email from your outreach tool to the 19 special email addresses of different email providers. The service will show you what percentage makes it into spam and promotion folders.
G Suite Toolbox (Check MX) is a tool that will help you to check if the basic domain settings were made properly. It’s very simple. Just follow the link and add your domain. Voila. Just two clicks and you can see what issues you have to fix.
DMARC’s domain-based message authentication reporting and conformance (DMARC) report is responsible for checking SPF records and DKIM signatures. This is a defense system that protects your recipients from phishing through your corporate domain. https://dmarc.postmarkapp.com/ is a great tool that collects reports from ISPs and presents them to you in readable emails sent once per week. If your emails are not approved by DMARC, it means you have spam issues for sure.
Postmaster Tools is a free tool provided by Google that will tell you what Gmail sees concerning your domain reputation (good, medium, low, or bad). You will explicitly ask the following question: “Do I have a good domain reputation in gmail?” In addition, it will display data on SPF/DKIM/DMARC failures, spam complaints, IP reputation, encryption success rates, etc.
How to Avoid Email Going to Spam in Your Cold Outreach
Follow these rules to avoid the spam folder when you send your sales bulk emails:
- Never use a purchased email database. When you buy email contacts, you have no idea how they were acquired or if they were validated. As a result, you get no growth, no new customers, and hours of wasted time on unsuccessful outreach.
Never send cold outreach emails from @gmail (or other common email services) but always use GSuite instead (Gmail for business).
Check which key standards of DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) are implemented by most Internet service providers (ISPs) and spam filter providers.
Visit your DNS hosting provider to log in. From there, you should find the prompt to create a new record or find the txt section to edit. There are two required tag-value pairs that MUST be present on every DMARC record. They are "v" and "p".
The only tag-value pair for "v" is v=DMARC1.
For the "p" tag pair, "p=" can be paired with “none”, “quarantine”, or “reject”. As tag-value pairs, they would look like p=none or p=quarantine or p=reject.
- Customize DMARC records in your domain DNS. DMARC is a txt record that actually tells the recipient to send an email to a specific email address if it receives spam from a certain domain. The record should look like this:
You should change “domain.tld” and “postmaster@your_domain.com” to the correct ones depending on your situation.
Do a DMARC check. When sending email from a domain, the recipient's email server verifies that the email address on the From line matches the SPF record and the DKIM signature. If they match, the email message is sent to the recipient's inbox. If the email fails the authentication checks, it is processed according to the selected DMARC policy:
None — The email message enters the recipient's inbox. Domain name owners receive a report that contains information about sending those messages to analyze who sent them and whether they were allowed to do so.
Quarantine — The recipient's email server moves the email message to the spam folder, and the domain owner keeps analyzing the data.
Reject — All emails that don’t pass the DMARC check are rejected and not delivered. If you set this type of policy, make sure that third parties that are allowed to send messages from your domain are whitelisted.
If you use any cold outreach tools (I bet you do) that show the open rate of your sent emails (Mailshake, Lemlist, and so on) you have to set up a custom domain by CNAME record of your DNS domain for tracking link and tracking pixel. This setting should be done in the
If you send thousands of cold emails every day, you should create a separate domain for sending emails. For example, if your primary domain is ABC.com, create ABC.net. If users complain about your spamming emails and mark them as spam, this will not affect your primary domain. And don't forget to redirect from ABC.net to ABC.com.
Verification of your emails before bulk sending is important. If your bounce rate is more than 2%, your email is more likely to go to spam.
There are many different email verification tools that will help you with this:
These tools are for validation only, but if you need to find and validate your emails, you can use tools like Snov.io or Hunter.io.
The goal of these tools is to ensure that you do not send email to addresses that are invalid if your potential customers:
- Change the email address with the same domain name.
- Change your domain name or email provider.
- Change jobs.
Use a public email provider that is then closed.
No matter what tool you use, validation results have three statuses:
Valid - You can add these emails to your outreach campaigns.
Catch-all - No email verification service can confirm that a specific mailbox exists at a catch-all domain.
Invalid - This email doesn’t exist.
If you don't want your emails to go to spam, you should remember that you should work with email addresses that have Valid status only.
Segment your database and personalize cold emails. Segment your email database. Create many different microsegments, and create super-customized emails for each separate segment.
For instance, you can create a segment for the CEO who lives in San Francisco, raised money at A-round, and is going to participate in the SaaStr conference. Then you can change the job title, city/country, or other criteria for the new segment creation. Yes, it can be a small campaign, but you'll be able to use many different variables in the email body and/or subject line, and your emails will be maximally personalized.
The more unique variables distinguish that one email from another, the less the chance of email going to spam.
- Personalizing outreach email body content also seems to be an effective way to increase response rates. Emails with personalized messages have a 32.7% better response rate than those that don’t have personalized messages.
- Experiment with subject lines. Subject lines have a direct impact on open rates. The better your open rate, the better your chances your emails will not go to spam. For instance, according to research by Backlinko, outreach emails with long subject lines have a 24.6% higher average response rate compared to those with short subject lines.
- I bet you you may have seen the awful emails with crazy formatting. So remember:
- Don't use colors.
- Don't send attachments in cold emails.
- DON’T PUT ALL CAPS IN YOUR SUBJECT LINE.
- Don’t use too many exclamation points!!!!!
- Don’t include spam trigger words and phishing phrases (WIN, Free!, etc.).
- Don’t forget to use spell-check.
- To avoid the email spam filter, don't apply false or misleading headers and deceptive subject lines.
For example: FREE!!! ADVICE: DON’T WRITE SUBJECT LINES LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!
What to Do if Your Domain Emails Were Marked as Spam in Gmail
It’s certainly very difficult to whitelist your domain, but it is possible.
Try the manual way. You should send your emails to the different recipients and ask them:
- To open all your emails.
- If the email is spam, to mark it as "Not spam".
If the email is in the promo folder, to mark it as important and move to the inbox.
The main issue of this approach is that one person can’t click “not spam” twice. So you have to find many people (with different email domains) who are willing to help you. You also can send emails to all your personal emails and then to all the personal emails of your colleagues and friends. The more people that click “not spam”, the better your chances you’ll be whitelisted.
Do it the automatic way. To automate this process, you can use a special tool, Mailwarm, which will do the following:
- Automatically open all your emails
- If the emails in spam, automatically mark it as "Not spam"
- If the emails are in the promo folder, automatically mark it as important
Automatically generate and send a response to your emails
We highly recommend you try out Mailwarm because, in our experience, it helped us to raise our email open rate from 41% to 73% in just three weeks. If you do it manually, it will take a couple of months. Don't forget about the human factor—your colleagues (as well as you) may sometimes forget to do what you asked them. This will slow down your whitelisted progress for sure.
But what if you need to create a new domain for your cold outreach campaigns?
How to Warm Up a New Domain for Cold Outreach
All new domains should be warmed up first. If you start to send hundreds of emails per day from the new domain, it will be blocked very quickly.
If you have just created a new domain, you should increase your domain reputation before sending any cold email campaigns. To do that, you can use Mailwarm or similar tools.
Set up 40-50 emails per day from each email address with a reply rate of 30-40%.
Important! Don’t send cold emails at the same time within the first month. Starting from the second month, you can add around 30-50 cold emails per day, but continue your warming up process simultaneously, and raise the number of cold emails every week by 20.
After just two to three months of this, you can then send around 150-200 cold emails per day from each email address.
Why Your One-to-One Emails Are also at Risk for the Spam Folder
If you succeed with your cold outreach campaigns, you'll get responses from your prospects. On average, 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response. Frankly, that's not much, so that’s why every prospect is worth its weight in gold. You should do your best to close the deal.
When you receive a reply, your outreach campaign should stop, and you will have to continue your one-to-one communication in Gmail (or any other email provider). But Gmail is not a good helper for deal closing. It doesn't show you if your recipients have viewed your proposal, and it doesn't show you the best time to send a follow-up email.
So you will have to add an email tracking addon for Gmail that will show you:
- If your prospect has already opened your send email or you have to send a follow-up email.
- If the prospect read what you sent (clicked links, downloaded attachments, etc.).
Which pages of your proposal were read by your recipients and which were ignored (page-by-page tracking statistics).
All these features will be available in your Gmail with Docsify.
Even if you use Gmail like a pro, you should remember that your personal emails still can go to the spam folder.
There are several reasons why your one-to-one emails may skip the Inbox:
- Your domain reputation still matters. If you send spam from the email domain via an email outreach tool, it will affect your personal business communication too.
- Your content quality. All the recommendations for cold outreach emails that we shared earlier in the article also apply to warm personal emails.
Recipients’ behavior. Your email open rate for your personal email should not be lower than 80%. This is another point in favor of using email tracking tools for Gmail because they can help you track open rates for emails you sent via Gmail. You can use this as an additional trigger that lets you know when you should pay attention to your spam score. This sounds good except for one thing: Using email tracking tools without the proper settings utterly impacts spam score.
Using email tracking tools without proper settings. To get the maximum from your Gmail communication, you should use email tracking tools (and other useful addons), but you have to set up your custom domain for links and pixel tracking. All these settings should be done on the email tracking tool side.
Not every email tracking tool provides the ability to customize your tracking domain. So pay attention when you choose an email tracking tool for Gmail.
Why Email and Link Tracking Have an Impact on the Email Spam Filter
All email tracking tools insert 1x1 mm transparent pixels into emails. It is their loading during the opening process that reports that the email was opened. But this pixel is on the web and is loaded by the link, which is located on the domain of the tool. Link tracking is also carried out by substituting the link for the link with a "pixel", which is also associated with the domain of the company email tracking.
As lots of users use similar tools in their emails, and many of these are spamming emails, this affects the reputation of the domain that has a tracking tool. Since links to this domain are in your emails in the form of a pixel, link, or tracked document, this might have negative effects. However, Docsify makes it possible to customize the link for the pixel and the link for tracked links and documents, thereby eliminating the influence of Docsify on the spam score of emails.
Spamming Email at the End of the Day
Nowadays, spamming emails can easily be blocked by users forever. Setting a custom domain for your email and link tracking should be considered as the most important instrument of your email marketing strategy. By abiding by the above-mentioned rules and reacting in a timely manner, you will succeed in avoiding email going to spam, which will help your useful and relevant content to appear at the top of the inbox.