How to Avoid Spam Filters When Sending Automated Emails

One of the questions I am asked the MOST when it comes to email is how to avoid spam filters when sending out automated emails. There’s a GINORMOUS disconnect between what people consider spam when they receive it, versus what they consider spam when they send it. Nobody wants to consider themselves as a spammer; spammers are gross, yucky, basement-dwelling mouth-breathers trying to scam people out of their money, not Karen down the street who’s just trying to get people to buy her bath bombs.

People will frequently “blame” the email service provider (ESP) because of this disconnect. I hear it all the time; “(Insert Reputable Platform Here) ALWAYS sends my emails to spam! I want to use a different one. Which one do you suggest?” What people fail to realize though, is that it is rarely the fault of the ESP.

Email service providers exist based on their reputation of making sure their emails arrive in inboxes. The more emails they can deliver, the more money they make from you. They have a responsibility to you and the rest of their clients to ensure that their domains don’t get blacklists. They have processes in place to ensure a high level of deliverability and strive to ensure that all their clients play by the rules because when their clients’ emails are being sent or marked as spam, it brings down the deliverability for ALL their clients. And that’s just bad for business.

So here’s the hard truth: It’s not them, it’s you. <3 And the emails you’re sending out. Only YOU have control over whether or not you end up in the spam folder.

So how do you avoid ending up in the spam folder?

There are a number of things that will trigger spam filters:

The email address you’re sending from.

Your email address plays a HUGE role in deliverability. If you’re using an email marketing service provider, you want to make sure you’re using a personalized, domain-based email as your send-from address. Think about the spam you receive for a minute. Does it ever come from No, right? It’s always coming from,,, So if you want to make it into inboxes, make sure you’re not using a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Mail, or any other “free” account – even if you pay for it. Invest in a domain-based email address, and use your name. A secondary trigger is using role-based email addresses. So if you think you can avoid ending up in spam by using, or any variation that doesn’t include an actual name, you’re wrong. People want to know that they’re receiving an email from an actual person, not a faceless entity.

The Send From Name

When you set up your email account for the first time, (your email address, not the Email Marketing Service), you’re asked to provide a send-from name. Did you put your actual name in there? If not, go back and put it in RIGHT NOW! And I mean you’re FULL NAME. Not just your initials, not just your first name, not your business name. YOUR name. Now go and do the same with your Email Marketing Service. Pro-tip: both of these should be using the same name. This may seem like common sense, but I see it soooo often. It’s one of the most overlooked settings when I’m doing email audits.

If you’re just starting out in your list-building and Email Marketing adventures, you’re also going to want to associate your business name with your email name, so that your audience can associate your business with your name. The Send-From name should look something like: Jane from My Awesome Business.

The Subject Line

Your subject line is one of the MOST important parts of your email, yet sadly, it’s also the most overlooked as well. A well-crafted subject line is what prompts readers to open your email. A poorly-crafted one will send your email straight to spam. Avoid using all-caps, multiple exclamation points, salesy copy, extra spaces, and spammy words to avoid spam filters. Check out this article from HubSpot for a pretty comprehensive list of words that are highly likely to trigger spam filters.

Content design

HOW you design your email is important. Not only for your readers, but for spam filters as well. You want to keep your design as clean and minimalist as possible. Make sure that any images you’re using relate to the content, are sized properly, and have descriptions in case your reader doesn’t allow images. There should always be more text than images. Avoid embedded videos, as they don’t always render properly in email. Keep your font choices and sizes consistent throughout the email, and use the software’s Headings capabilities instead of changing the font size. Keep colours to a minimum. And at all costs, avoid using red font for anything. (Red means STOP! And yes, spam filters see colours.)


Sending out your awesome lead magnet? If you actually want people to be able to receive it, DO NOT ATTACH IT TO YOUR DAMN EMAIL!  Anything that you send to your readers should be hosted on your website or within your email marketing platform and shared via a link. Not only are attachments a risk for transmitting viruses, they’re a HUGE spam-flag waver.

Not personalizing your emails

This one I may yell at you for. Seriously. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Do YOU want to open a non-descript, generic, canned email? I know I sure don’t. Personalizing your emails is a phenomenal way to increase your open rates, engagements, and avoid spam filters. Merge tags are there for a reason. Use them. Sprinkle them everywhere throughout your content, especially within the body.

Not keeping your list clean

If you’re not keeping up on your list hygiene, you are doing yourself – and your readers – a massive disservice. Clean up and clear out all hard bounces and all your unengaged readers. Now, I understand that you may *think* you want to keep all your subscribers, but you don’t. You REALLY don’t. Hard bounces and unengaged recipients send a signal that you’re not particularly interested in your recipients and bring your overall score down. They lower your score, the less likely you are to get past spam filters. It is ALWAYS better to have a smaller, highly engaged list than a large list of unengaged people that really don’t want to be there, so send them packing! NOW!

Not including unsubscribe links

Want a one-way ticket to the blacklist? Make it impossible for your subscribers to unsubscribe. If your readers can’t unsubscribe at their whim, they are infinitely more likely to mark your emails as spam. And every email marketing service provider has a threshold of “acceptable” complaints before they give you the boot. This is why any reputable service automatically includes unsubscribe links into any email you send using them. If yours doesn’t or allows you to remove it, run far FAR away from them. If your readers want to leave, let them. As a matter of fact, give them a kindly shove. Because as mentioned previously, unengaged readers do far more harm to your list than good.

Followed these tips and still not making it to inboxes? An Email Audit can help you determine how to make your emails better. Get in touch with me today to schedule yours.