How to avoid spam filters and get your emails delivered

Worried about your subscribers not getting your emails? These 6 tips can help you avoid spam filters and get your email campaigns delivered to the inbox.
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Your email list is a powerful marketing tool. And there’s nothing more annoying and nerve racking when all your efforts seem to have been in vain, as you receive word that your email campaign landed in some of your subscribers’ junk folder.

While it’s nothing that you can avoid for good, and may happen to you occasionally, just like to anyone else who does email marketing, there are few things that you can do to maximize the chances that your email lands in your audience’s inbox.

I’ve collected 6 tips that you can implement today to ensure that your next email campaign lands in your subscribers’ main folder instead of spam.

Tip 1: Ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address

Create a Thank-You page on your own website where subscribers get re-directed after they opted in. The advantage of having a Thank-you page is that you can design it to be aligned to your business brand. And by having it on your own domain, you can set up goals in your Google Analytics account to track its performance.

There’s no hard rule how you should design your Thank-you page, it’s however a good place to

  • thank people for joining your list,
  • tell them a bit about your lead magnet they’ll receive via email,
  • set expectations how often you’ll be emailing them in future.
    • Feel free to mention what topics you’ll be talking about in your newsletter, and last but not least
  • ask them to whitelist your email address.

Additionally you can add a simple disclaimer that if the welcome email with the lead magnet isn’t in their inbox in let’s say 15 minutes, to check their spam folder and to report it to you.

thank you page example

In your very first email where you deliver the lead magnet remind them to whitelist your email. You can also request them to send you a short feedback about the lead magnet that they’ve received. Did they like it? Was it easy to use?

When they reply to you, that’s a signal for their webmail provider that the email – your email – is important to them. Such a direct reply email boosts your email engagement rate.

After that much talk I’m sure I’ve made you curios and you may be even wondering:

What is whitelisting in email marketing?

Whitelisting is the practice of explicitly allowing some identified entities access to a particular privilege. In case of email marketing whitelisting a specific email address means that it is marked as safe and not to be blocked by spam filters. The privilege is that the email from this particular sending email address gets directly delivered to the subscriber inbox (primary or promotional).

Yes, it sounds a bit technical and you may be worried that some people won’t even know how to whitelist an email. Good news, that there are free tools that generate whitelist instructions for the most commonly used webmail providers, like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, and others.

It’s very easy to use. You add your company name or your own name if it’s a personal business, and the email address that you’re sending your marketing emails from. You’d want to get the instructions how to whitelist that specific one.

Then click on generate instructions and all the details will be displayed on a dedicated permanent whitelisting instruction page. You can choose to directly link to this page or copy & paste certain parts of instruction to your Thank-you page or welcome email.

How do you set up a Thank-you page redirect in Flodesk?

Once you’ve designed your sign up form, the next step is to customize it. The first decision you need to make is whether you want to be notified in an email when a new subscriber opts in.

Then the next prompt will be whether to display a success message once the form is submitted or you want to redirect subscribers to a URL. If you click this latter button, you can add the URL of your specific Thank-you page:

add redirect url in Flodesk form

Hit continue and you’ll be given the code snippets that you need to add to your web page to get the sign up form displayed.

Tip 2: Segment your audience and send them relevant, personalized, value packed email campaigns

Once your subscribers have whitelisted your email, the surest way to remain in their inbox is to send them content they love and find valuable.

This boils down to how well do you know your audience.

As you’ve created your website, services and products with your ideal clients in mind, you should use those insights in every aspect of your marketing efforts. Create lead magnets that are relevant and linked to your services and can naturally lead to a promotional or sales sequence. At the end your goal is to market your business and make some profit.

Pay attention to how your audience interacts with your campaigns and segment, tag, group your email list (different providers use various terms) based on their interest and behaviour.

You don’t need to be a marketing pro to know that if you keep sending the very same emails to everyone on your list regardless of their preferences you can expect a high number of unsubscribes and potential spam flags. At the end that’s exactly what you would do in this case.

Tip 3: Authenticate your domain

This step is a bit tech-y compared to the previous two tips but well worth it.

Regardless of which email service provider you use, check their help center articles, and authenticate your domain before you would start sending email campaigns or activating your automated email sequences.

Why?

Because once your domain is verified, it increases your email deliverability by telling email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook that the emails you’re sending are really coming from you and not from a malicious or phishing address.

You can manage domain authentication on your own, if you can access your DNS records or cPanel. If it doesn’t ring a bell where you find these, contact your server administrator or Internet service provider (where you bought your domain).

Setting up the Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) records in Flodesk

It usually takes a few minutes and involves copy-pasting. So it’s not that bad.

  1. Login to your domain registrar account or cPanel. Navigate to your DNS records management page, where you’ll be adding three CNAME records.
  2. In a new browser window or tab login to Flodesk and go to Account > Domain setup. Continue through the domain set up guide until you see the three CNAME records that you’ll need to add in your DNS management zone.
  3. Go back to Your domain registrar tab and create a new CNAME record in your domain provider’s DNS management zone.
  4. Copy your first Flodesk host record. Then go to your domain registrar tab and paste it into your DNS “host” or “name” field.
  5. Copy your first Flodesk value record. Then go to your domain registrar tab and paste it into your DNS “value” or “target” field.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 till you have added all three records from your Flodesk account. And you’re done.

Be patient: It can take up to 48-72 hours for the verification process to complete. For me I think it was less than a day though.

Should you see after a couple of days a Not Authenticated message, read this detailed help guide from the Flodesk help center which contains some common troubleshooting steps.

If your site is hosted on GoDaddy then I recommend you to watch this 5 minutes tutorial from Michele Perry walking you through all the necessary steps and showing you how to wrangle CNAME records like a pro.

Tip 4: Test send your campaign emails before sharing it with your list

A general best practice is to always test your marketing campaign emails before you would send it to your list. This way you can see first hand how your email gets displayed in your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail account, on your mobile vs on desktop.

To send a campaign email as a test to your selected email addresses click the little paper airplane icon in Flodesk’s Design Email panel.

As a strong subject line can ensure that your email gets delivered into the inbox instead of spam, remember to update the dummy wording and to remove the [Test] disclaimer that’s added by default in Flodesk.

send test email panel in Flodesk

If your test email lands in spam, at least it happened during testing! Also it’s an indicator that you need to tweak your design and/or copy before sending it to your wider audience.

Sometimes it’s easy to spot why your email gets caught by a spam filter. On occasion you may need to spend more time on finding the culprit.

Tip 5: Regularly review your opt-in process and automated email sequences

Another good opportunity to have a first hand experience of what your new subscribers see is to sign up to your own lead magnets and to trigger those workflows. This is what I did myself before I started advertising and promoting my freebie email course about website optimization built and designed on Flodesk.

First of all you’d want to check if any of your workflow emails randomly slips into spam.
But beyond that:

  • Take a look at your sign-up form(s). At the image, at the wording that you use.
    • Does it make clear that by providing their email address (and name) to get access to your lead magnet they’ll get added to your email list and may be sent promotional emails, newsletters as well? If not, add it now.
  • If your sign-up form redirects to a Thank-you page, does it load properly? Both on mobile and desktop?
    • Does the web page copy give a heads-up and prepare the readers for your workflow emails (see Tip 1 above)?
  • Does your first automated email arrive promptly to your inbox? (Unless you specified a time delay of course).
  • Do the remaining workflow emails in the sequence get sent according to your defined automation schedule?
    • E.g. next email after 3 hours and then the remaining ones with 24 hours delay?

If you find anything that’s not working how you expected it, start testing and if all your efforts fail, contact the support inbox at Flodesk for further assistance.

Tip 6: Create an action plan when switching email marketing providers

At some point in your business the time may come when you start thinking about moving to a different email service provider (ESP). There could be various reasons why you’re unhappy with the current one, like

  • a sudden price increase,
  • features removed from current plan,
  • poor customer support.

The most important thing is that your move should be based on an informed business decision. And not because a new platform appeared on the market. Avoid the trap of the shiny object syndrome because your business can pay a high price for it. And I don’t just mean the dollars.

Did you know that a sudden switch of ESPs can trigger your emails being marked as spam by webmail providers?

One thing to note for all of you who have been emailing their list regularly in another platform, and are moving over and verifying your domain in Flodesk, is that any change to a sending domain is going to cause a temporary drop in open rates (that goes for all of the email marketing platforms, not just Flodesk) as the email bots determine if your change is authentic or a hack.

It should be back to normal within a week or two of regular emailing while your audience gets used to your new emails, whitelists you again if needed and starts engaging with your campaigns.

You can speed up this process – and is a must to do if you have a large email list – by warming up your IP address so to speak:

  1. Authenticate your domain on Flodesk (or on your new ESP).
  2. Then pick a highly engaged segment from your list and still from your old provider send them a notification email that you’re about to switch providers and your next email that will be sent on [add date] will come via Flodesk. Explain them that due to change of providers this email may land in their junk folder, and ask them to whitelist it if that happens.
  3. On the mentioned date send your email to them from Flodesk, and ask them to reply to you if they got it. As you’re emailing a highly engaged segment of your audience, chances are good that they will follow your prompts. This signals to their webmail servers that your content is still relevant and important to them, and that you’re a safe sender. This paves the way for the deliverability of your following emails to other segments or to your whole list.
  4. Gradually pick up the pace and start sending from your new ESP to other segments on your list.

But during this interim period while you switch your ESPs and

  • export and import your list,
  • re-create and/or update your workflows,
  • set up your new sign up forms on Flodesk,

don’t launch anything time sensitive or run promotions where you want to make big sales.

Yes, there’s always exception to the rule, but I’m for better to be safe than sorry.


Did you switch ESPs in the past? What was your experience?
Are there any strategies you used that I haven’t mentioned?
Let me know in the comments.

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