How to make sure your emails land in the inbox and not the spam folder

Improving your email deliverability and email reputation

If your postman delivered your mail to the wrong mail box would you put up with it?  Of course not! So why tolerate your emails being delivered to the wrong mail box?

If your emails are not being delivered it’s costing you sales, money and your customer service reputation with your customers.

Email today is one the key methods we communicate to our customers.  You’ll spend over the course of the year an enormous amount of time preparing and sending emails to your customers and prospects and many of those will never land in the inbox and get read. Just think about the information you send your customers…. Invoices, receipts, product information, sale or discount information.  And if they are a customer good chances are they want your information.

Did you know that you have an email reputation?  Much like a credit score you have an email reputation score that determines where your email is more likely to land in the inbox or spam box.

Internet Service Providers created algorithms that analyze your emails based upon a number of factors to make a determination if your email should go to the inbox or spam box.

Here’s a few tips that will improve your email reputation and increase the deliverability of your emails to the inbox where they are more likely to get read. Knowing that you have a reputation gives you the opportunity to improve, maintain and protect it – just like your credit score.

What determines your email reputation? Overall Email Deliverability is influenced by how your recipients interact with your messages.

  • Sending the right message to the right person at the right time with the right frequency.
  • If messages are opened in a timely manner, images are displayed, and links are clicked, then mail providers trust you as a valid sender.
  • If messages pile-up, remain unopened, or get marked as Spam, mail providers won’t be as comfortable placing your messages in the inbox.

Here’s 10 tips to improve your reputation and deliverability of your emails.

  1. Draft an email that is legitimate and doesn’t come across as spam to the ISP’s.
    • Don’t use false or misleading header information
    • Don’t use deceptive subject lines
    • Avoid using words that are associated with spam – Click here to see a list of words to avoid.
    • Tell recipients where you’re located by including your email signature and address block that includes your contact info name, email, phone within your email. This is something that Spam and Phishing emails don’t include.
  2. Clean up your database. If you have a contact database that is not emailed to regularly clean up your database and remove blocked, opt-outs, non-deliverable, and flagged as spam email addresses. If you continue to try and send to these email addresses, every time you send and get a bounce back or marked as spam your reputation is taking a ding.  It’s like applying for credit over and over and getting denied and having your credit score take hit.
  3. Validate email subscriptions. If you have subscribers requesting to join your email list validate their subscription with a double opt-in form. Yes, it is an extra step but if they are serious about connecting with you they won’t mind and it will prevent you from receiving unwanted sign ups and destroying your email reputation.
    • If you are importing your list into a new ESP account, definitely use the double opt in format to verify the recipients email is valid and confirm they want to receive your emails.
  4. Ask your recipients to add you to their contact list so the ISP’s see that your email is an approved contact.
  5. Don’t buy an email list and send from your email account, this is Spam. Purchased email lists are full of bad, fake, email addresses that do nothing for you except destroy your email reputation.  It would be like someone stealing your identity and blasting it out to apply for credit.  Destroys your credit and the same happens in the email world it destroys your reputation.
  6. Give recipients and option to easily opt out of receiving future emails from you. If you don’t, good chances are they will flag your email as Spam and your reputation will take a hit.
    • Don’t ask your recipients to unsubscribe by replying to your email and putting “UNSUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. This unprofessional and will cause the recipient to flag your email as spam.  If you’re serious about connecting with your customers – Do it right!
    • Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. If you have a marketing team or consultants managing your email campaign monitor what they are doing on your behalf and make sure they follow good email guidelines.
  8. Consider upgrading your ESP provider. Using a low budget service that uses a shared IP address where your reputation is determined by others can have a negative impact on your reputation. You could be doing all the right things but if other users with that ESP have a bad reputation your reputation is being impacted.

If you are sending large volume emails 50K or more a month consider using an ESP that offers a dedicated IP address.

  1. Test your email before your send. There are several email testing services that will analyze and rate your email before you send it so you can make any corrections before sending it. In the video description box below you’ll see a link to a couple of services.
    • There are external services you can use to get an idea of how mail providers analyze your emails: – See additional resources below.
  2. Don’t be an annoying emailer. Supplement your email marketing campaign with a good social media campaign. I don’t care what book you read that said email 5 to 7 times a week.  It may work for small percentage but not for all.  What would you likely to do if an annoying emailer emails you daily?  You will either opt-out or flag as spam.  Either way you have defeated the purpose of getting subscribers and destroying your email reputation.  Instead supplement your communication and marketing efforts by connecting with your customers and prospects on social media.  You’ll create better followers that will pay off.

Below I’ve included some additional resources for you to analyze your emails additional tips.  Check it out.

Have an awesome day!

Mike Brenhaug

The Focus Guy

Business & Sales Coach for – Entrepreneurs, Sales Professionals and Small Business Owners

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly business tips:



Test your email:

Spam Trigger words:

Rate your URL:

Deliverability guide:

CAN-SPAM Act – Compliance Guide:


Here’s the video version of this blog.

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