How to Avoid Spammy Emails

02 Mar 2017

Nobody Likes SPAM, We're Not Talking About Canned Meat!

Spammy emails are the worst, especially when they're unintentional but there are few tricks you can do to optimize email deliverability and avoid spammy emails. We've outlined some general guidelines to ensure your emails get read. 

Formatting Your Email

There are some common mistakes that folks make when constructing their email that may trigger spam filters on different email clients. Every email client may have specific spam criteria but the following list includes general mistakes to avoid:

  • Badly written subject lines and contentcaps.gif
  • Subject lines written in all uppercase letters
  • Broken hyperlinks
  • Large images and graphics
  • A high ratio of images and links to text
  • Plain text version of the email not available

Keep it Legal

There are also legal requirements that will land you in the spam category if you fail to include them and subsequently may freeze your email privileges.  Make sure you pay special attention to the following:

  • An “unsubscribe” option must be visible in all emails
  • From-addresses (e.g. updates@company.com) must be accurate
  • Subject line must be relevant to content
  • You must include a physical mailing address

Maintain Clean Lists

It is very important to make sure folks have given you consent to email them. If someone unsubscribes or opts out of your email list, it’s imperative that you also remove them for your email lists. If someone marks your email spam more than once, this negatively effects your spam score.

If you've got an email  prospect list , you can engage in an “opt-in” campaign if you want to frequently contact these folks.

Enlist the Help of your Recipients

Chances are that if you’re sending an email blast to folks who have Gmail email addresses, they’re getting their emails sent to their “promotions” tab which means your email might not be readily seen by them.

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In order to avoid this, there’s a few steps you can take. The first is asking your recipients to add your sending email address (i.e. info@company.com) to their address book. Saved contacts automatically get sent to the “primary” inbox.

You can also “teach” Gmail to have your emails be sent to the primary inbox. In order to do this, recipients have to drag your email from the promotions tag into the primary one. Gmail will then ask the email owner if that’s where they’d like to email to be delivered.

Warning signs

Signs of a bad reputation include:  

  • Open rates below 10%
  • Unsubscribe rates above 0.75% per blast
  • Spam reports above 0.05% per blast
  • Bad & bounced emails at 3% or more per blast

If you're getting any of these results from your emails, you'll need to assess how your email is constructed and also the integrity of your email list. Chances are, your email list hasn't been cleaned or updated in awhile!


We've outlined some tips and tricks to get your emails sent and received. Have additional questions about what gets flagged as spam? Need help assessing the integrity of your email list? Let us know! 

Deanna-Marie Norcross

Deanna-Marie Norcross is a Senior Associate at Mosaic Strategies. She specializes in helping clients use data for good and using online tools for digital organizing.

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