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How to Improve Email Spam Score: 19 Proven Techniques

Spam filters are becoming increasingly sensitive; what used to fly in the past often won’t cut it anymore. Creating the perfect email message is only half the battle now. The other half is taking the necessary steps to ensure your emails reach the inboxes of your recipients.

Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your emails won’t be marked as spam. In this guide, we’ll outline the various strategies and techniques you can use to improve the spam score of your emails.

Note: Ready to elevate your email game? Test your emails with MailGenius – the ultimate solution to boost your spam score. Get instant feedback and actionable tips to guarantee inbox success. Start improving your deliverability now.

Defining the Email Spam Score

The email spam score is a numerical evaluation assigned to incoming email messages based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors. This score serves as a signal to email service providers (ESPs) and internet service provider (ISPs) regarding the legitimacy and quality of an email. 

In simpler terms, it acts as a litmus test to determine whether an email is a welcome guest in a recipient’s inbox or a suspicious outsider that might be escorted to the spam folder.

Factors such as the sender’s history, the email’s content, the engagement it generates, and technical attributes are all evaluated. ESPs and ISPs use these factors to build a holistic picture of an email’s legitimacy.

For instance, if an email originates from a sender with a strong track record of sending relevant content, it might receive a lower spam score. Conversely, an email from an unknown sender, full of words that set off spam alarms, and missing security measures, its score might go up.

How to Improve Your Email Spam Score

Now that you understand the role of an email spam score and how it works, here are some actionable steps you can take to improve yours:

Choose a Reputable Email Service Provider

The choice of your Email Service Provider (ESP) plays a significant role in your sending reputation. Reputable ESPs have established relationships with email providers and adhere to industry best practices. These ESPs are equipped with advanced tools to monitor and improve your email deliverability, ensuring your emails have a higher chance of reaching the intended recipients’ inboxes.

Avoidance of Spam Trigger Words

Certain words and phrases have been flagged as common spam triggers by email filters. These triggers are like red flags that raise suspicion. For instance, words like “buy now,” “earn money fast,” “limited time offer,” and “free” can increase your spam score.

While you can still use these spammy words, exercise caution and ensure they are used in context. Instead of saying “Get a Free Laptop Today!” which might sound too good to be true, opt for a subject line like “Upgrade Your Work Setup with Our Laptop Deals.”

Handle Unsubscribes and Complaints Promptly

Unsubscribes and complaints are a natural part of email marketing. Instead of taking them personally, use them as opportunities to refine your content and practices. Make the unsubscribe process seamless and hassle-free, and provide a visible unsubscribe header link in every email. 

Monitor your feedback loops, address complaints promptly by investigating the issue and taking corrective action, if necessary.

Monitor Engagement

It’s important to ensure your messages are engaging and relevant. Monitor the email metrics for recipients’ interactions with your marketing messages, such as clicks, visits, or purchases. If they don’t show any activity for a long time, chances are their interests have changed. Consider removing them from your list if they don’t respond to re-engagement campaigns.

Proper Use of Subject Lines

Subject lines are your email’s first impression. Keep them clear, concise, and relevant to your content. Misleading subject lines that promise something unrelated or sensational can lead to spam complaints and a higher spam score. A subject line like “Important Update Regarding Your Account” is more likely to be well-received than something like “You’ve Won a Grand Prize!” which might seem too good to be true.

Balanced Text-to-Image Ratio

Visual content can enhance your emails, but relying too heavily on images can trigger spam filters. Some email clients automatically block images, so ensure your message is conveyed through text as well. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a balanced text-to-image ratio. This not only helps with deliverability but also ensures your message is understood even if images don’t load.

Clear and Concise Content

Long-winded emails can overwhelm recipients and raise suspicions. Keep your content concise and well-structured. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and headings to break up the text and make it easy to scan. A clutter-free email not only improves readability but also reduces the chances of setting off spam filters.

Importance of Plaintext Version

HTML emails are visually appealing, but not all email clients display them correctly. Including a plaintext version alongside your HTML version ensures that your message is readable regardless of the email client used.

Implement a Double Opt-In Process

Picture this process as a confirmation step for subscribers. When someone signs up for your marketing emails, they receive a confirmation email asking them to verify their subscription. This helps ensure that only genuinely interested recipients join your list, reducing the likelihood of spam complaints and inactive subscribers.

Monitor and Address Bounce Rates

Bounces occur when emails can’t be delivered to recipients’ inboxes. Track your bounce rates for your emails and try to clean them. High bounce rates can signal issues with your list quality or data accuracy. Soft bounces are usually temporary (e.g., a recipient’s inbox is full), while hard bounces indicate a permanent issue (e.g., an invalid email address). Regularly remove hard-bounced addresses to maintain a clean list.

Maintain a Consistent Email Sending Schedule

Email consistency builds trust with your audience and email providers. Sudden spikes in email volume or irregular sending patterns can trigger spam filters. Develop a predictable sending schedule based on your audience’s preferences and expectations. This not only improves your sending reputation but also enhances recipient engagement.

Regularly Clean and Segment Email Lists

A clean and well-segmented email list is a cornerstone of a strong sending reputation. Inactive or unengaged subscribers not only skew your engagement metrics but also increase the likelihood of spam complaints. Regularly prune your list by removing addresses that haven’t engaged with your emails for an extended period. Segmenting your list based on user behavior and preferences allows you to deliver more relevant content, which in turn positively impacts engagement and reputation.

Mobile Responsiveness

With the majority of emails being opened on mobile devices, mobile responsiveness is non-negotiable. Your emails must adapt and display correctly across various screen sizes. Responsive design ensures that your email’s layout, images, and text adjust automatically to provide a smooth reading experience on smartphones and tablets. Neglecting mobile responsiveness can result in frustrated recipients and decreased engagement.

Testing Emails Across Various Clients

Different email clients have varying rendering capabilities and quirks. What looks great in Gmail might appear distorted in Outlook or Apple Mail. Regularly test your emails across a range of email clients to identify any rendering issues and ensure a consistent appearance. Services for email deliverability and testing tools can help you pinpoint and rectify compatibility issues, improving the overall quality of your emails.

Correct HTML Coding Practices

Sloppy HTML code can lead to rendering issues across different email clients, affecting the way your email appears to recipients. Use inline CSS styles instead of external stylesheets and use tables for layout to ensure consistent rendering. Properly coded emails are more likely to be displayed correctly, boosting the professionalism of your campaigns.

Check your HTML email code for any sloppy code and fix them to improve deliverability. 

Monitoring Blacklists and Reputation Services

Your sender reputation can be negatively impacted if your domain ends up on email blacklists. Regularly monitor reputable blacklist databases to ensure your domain isn’t flagged. Additionally, reputation services like SenderScore provide insights into your email-sending reputation. Address any issues promptly to maintain a positive reputation. You can test your email address for blacklisting with MailGenius.

Optimizing Email Sending Infrastructure

The technical infrastructure supporting your email sending plays a critical role in deliverability. Properly configured servers, appropriate email-sending rates, and adherence to industry standards contribute to a positive email sender reputation. Regularly review your sending infrastructure settings, configure sender policies, and monitor email delivery metrics to ensure optimal performance.

A/B Testing Subject Lines and Content

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a powerful technique that allows you to compare two variations of an email element to determine which one performs better. Start by testing subject lines—one of the most critical elements in your emails.

Send two versions of your email to small segments of your list, each with a different subject line. Based on open rates and engagement, you can identify which subject line resonates more with your audience. Similarly, you can A/B test different content elements like call-to-action buttons, images, and even entire sections to refine your email content.

Continuously Refining Strategies Based on Results

Email marketing is an iterative process. Use the insights gained from A/B testing and performance analysis to refine your strategies. Experiment with different approaches and content types. For instance, if video content generates higher engagement than text-based content, consider incorporating more videos into your emails.

How Can You Check Your Spam Score?

You can use two methods to check your email spam score:

  1. Manual Testing: Sending test emails to different providers and observing their placement – inbox or spam folder. This method is time-consuming, though, and may not offer comprehensive insights.

  2. Email Deliverability Tools: Tools like MailGenius streamline the process. They simulate scenarios, assess content, sender reputation, engagement, and technical factors to generate a score and offer actionable insights to help you improve it.

The ease of use and accuracy of such tools make them the preferred choice for any email marketer. Using MailGenius, for instance, is straightforward:

  1. Compose Your Email: Craft your email as you normally would, representing your typical content.

  2. Send to Designated Address: Address your email to the provided MailGenius email. It’s your gateway to understanding deliverability.

  3. Get Spam Score: MailGenius evaluates factors affecting your email’s spam score, offering insights quickly.

  4. Insightful Evaluation: Receive a numerical spam score indicating how likely your email is to be flagged as spam.

  5. Actionable Insights: MailGenius goes beyond scores, providing actionable advice on content, sender reputation, engagement, and more.

MailGenius report

Factors Evaluated by MailGenius:

  1. DKIM Key Validation: Ensures your email’s authenticity and credibility by verifying the DKIM key. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) key verification ensures email authenticity, preventing tampering during transit.

  2. DMARC Best Practices: Evaluates DMARC settings to safeguard your domain from unauthorized use. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) settings prevent email spoofing and unauthorized domain use. Compliance with DMARC safeguards your domain’s integrity.

  3. Message Body Analysis: Email content alignment with best practices enhances user experience. Proper formatting, relevant information, and engaging content encourage recipient interaction.

  4. List-Unsubscribe Header: Transparent and user-friendly opt-out mechanisms like list-unsubscribe headers reduce the likelihood of spam complaints.

  5. SPF Record Validation: An SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record prevents unauthorized servers from sending emails on your behalf.

  6. Domain Trustworthiness: Checks the credibility of your domain’s suffix. A trustworthy and recognizable domain suffix, such as “.com” or “.org,” adds an extra layer of authenticity to your email communications.

  7. Domain Maturity Assessment: Gauges domain history to understand responsible email practices. Domain maturity reflects responsible email practices over time. A mature domain establishes trust with spam filters and improves deliverability.

  8. Broken Link Detection: Functional links ensure a seamless user experience. Broken links, in contrast, diminish engagement and can trigger spam alerts.

  9. Blacklist Status Verification: Scans significant blacklists to confirm your domain isn’t listed.

  10. Safe URL Usage: Ensures you’re not using dangerous short URLs that might trigger spam filters.

  11. Anti-Spam Subject Line: Evaluates subject line for adherence to anti-spam best practices.

  12. Blacklisted Links Avoidance: Scans email body for blacklisted links to avoid spam triggers.

  13. Mail Server IP Assessment: Checks if your mail server’s IP address is blacklisted.

  14. Proper Reverse DNS Configuration: Verifies your mail server’s Reverse DNS is correctly configured.

  15. SpamAssassin Score Analysis: Examines SpamAssassin score, measuring email’s spam potential.

Each element plays a role in how your email interacts with spam filters and inboxes, ultimately determining whether your message finds its intended audience or gets lost in the clutter.

Wrapping Up

Email spam scores are an essential metric for email marketers to consider when creating email campaigns. A higher score indicates a greater likelihood of being flagged as spam, which can affect your deliverability rates.

By understanding the factors that feed into it, adopting best practices, and using tools like MailGenius to run tests, you can ensure that your emails make their way into the inboxes of your subscribers.