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Best Practices to Steer Clear of Spam Filters

6 min read
Updated Oct. 18, 2023
Published May. 22, 2017

Imagine after sending an ideal prospect an intro email, you follow up with a phone call to further discuss your product. You successfully get them on the phone, explain your purpose, and they say, “No, I didn’t receive your email. One second, let me check…oh, it looks like it was in my spam folder.” As a sales rep, that’s probably the second-to-last thing you want to hear.

Don’t get me wrong, spam folders definitely have their merits. There are certain “enhancements” and “flash sales” that are better left avoided. But a sales professional such as yourself has no business (literally) in the spam folder. So how can you ensure that your email will be delivered to a person’s inbox?

When it comes to spam, email deliverability is not a guarantee. There are a wide variety of technical as well behavioral aspects that can come into play when sending your messages. Start with being sure that you are all clear on the technical side and then drive your emails home with relevant information that won’t bring a person to click “Mark As Spam.”

Know Your Spam Score

Did you know that your email address has a spam score which gauges your sender reputation? Think of it kind of like your credit score with your bank. Spam scores compile metrics based on negative attributes like spam complaints or blacklists, as well as positive ones like subscriber engagement or removal from spam folders, to configure your actual score. Sites like Litmus or Mail Tester provide your spam score so you can see whether servers are identifying your emails as spam from the start. Once you know your spam score you can take any necessary action (hopefully none is required) like working with your IT department or adjusting your sending habits to improve your score.

One key factor in a spam score is whether or not your company’s domain is on a blacklist, meaning the IP address has been reported as spam. Your company may be blacklisted if there’s a history of blasting out emails or have fallen into spam traps, which are email addresses that don’t belong to a real person because they are specifically meant to expose spam that hide in email lists. Users can stumble into a spam trap through poor data: you send an email to an abandoned email address that has been converted to a trap, or obtaining email lists that contain traps in between legitimate email addresses. Luckily, you can check out sources like Return Path to learn whether your IP address has been blacklisted and take action to get removed.

Keep Sending Consistent

It’s important to note that outside sources may not be the only ones flagging the emails you send. Your own email server also monitors your consistent sending behavior and spikes outside your norm are red flags. Let’s say you are fairly steady and send around fifty emails a day, but one day you blast out a new campaign to 1000 people. Your email server, whether it’s Gmail, Exchange, or any other, might assume this random mass send is a hacker taking over your email address. The message will likely be rerouted to spam for the sake of the recipient. To bring in another bank credit comparison, it’s like making a big, out of the norm purchase, and you get a call that your account is frozen until you can confirm your spending. Same thing with your server, so word to the wise is to keep your send habits consistent.

Person to Person’s Inbox

Just like interpersonal communication, your email conversations spam filters also search whether your emails are sent from a person to a person. Start by sending emails using your email address with your corporate domain and send out credible emails that can gain the trust of prospects and servers alike. These email addresses directly fit your need as a sales rep working to engage other people and your own email address proves that authenticity.

On the receiving end, emails should be sent to an individual versus a distribution list. Sending a message to [email protected] makes you look much more credible to spam filters than sending a message to a list like [email protected]. These emails are unlikely to reach your intended target and even if they do get past spam filters, they can sour a large group of people or even an entire account, effectively killing a deal with one email. Even if you slip past spam filters this could still negatively impact your spam score if multiple users within the distribution list decide your email is not worth their time and mark the email as spam. Pinpoint the right person to reach out to, if you can’t find an individual email address, try calling the front desk. It’s better to confirm a name with a gatekeeper than damage your email integrity.

Write for People

Even if you navigate the minefield of spam filters and blacklists and successfully land your email in a prospect’s inbox, they can still mark your email as spam themselves if you’re not providing value. It’s not enough just to reach your prospects. You have to connect and provide real value. It’s important to think about what the experience of your email will be like for your prospect. Honestly, it’s demanding and annoying to receive an email with 4–5 different action items that need to be completed. That sort of behavior is begging to be marked as spam. Giving a recipient one action item invites them to become a buyer and engage with your message. What’s even better, engagement with your emails benefits your email reputation, so with a single action item, you help your spam score and your sales process.

While there is no clear-cut method to ensure your email will be delivered, the ultimate way to get in someone’s inbox and stay there is to humanize your emails. Spam filters are searching for robots. Platforms like Salesloft personalize specific messages to prospects from your email address so you can increase your chances of deliverability. A person can just as easily mark your email as spam if they don’t feel the message is meant for them. Engage with that individual and provide them the content that will make them see the value you in both your email and your product.

Want to learn more about the role of driving personalization to maximize email deliverability? Download our free Sales Development Playbook today.