As a marketer, nothing is more frustrating than working hard on a campaign, only to find it didn’t deliver the results you were expecting. There are a variety of reasons this could be happening, but for email marketers, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the spam filter.
Tracking open rate is one of the most important email marketing tracking metrics marketers should be monitoring.
A low open rate could be a sign of several issues with your marketing, including poor subject line copy. However, it could also indicate your subscribers simply aren’t seeing the email. This could be because the email’s been directed to their junk folder instead of their inbox.
This inevitably leads to marketers asking, “Why are my emails going to junk mail in Outlook?”
Your emails have been thoughtfully crafted and you feel like you’re doing everything correctly, so why are you emails ending up in the junk folder?
In this article, we will look at some of the most common reasons Outlook and other email providers direct legitimate marketing emails to the junk folder. More importantly, we will provide some helpful tips to ensure your emails don’t end up in the junk folder.
Why are my emails going to junk mail in Outlook?
- Your subject line is preventing engagement
- Your email was reported as spam
- Your emails are breaking the rules
- Your emails aren’t being opened
- Your email list is out-of-date
Your subject line is preventing engagement
The subject line is the first impression your emails make on subscribers, and it’s important the impression is a good one.
Subject lines no longer play a major part in spam/junk folder determination. Instead, all major mailbox providers now weight engagement as their top influencer for where your email ends up. The takeaway: subject lines may not influencer providers, but they do influence users: an exciting subject line encourages opens and clicks, which then lend to positive signals to mailbox providers.
The takeaway: high engagement means your emails will probably continue to get through. With low engagement? Your emails could end up as spam or junk. That’s why testing and personalizing subject lines on a regular basis is so important.
Writing a good subject line is your first line of defense against these filters. Avoid sending subject lines that may look spammy to readers: words written in all caps, punctuated with numerous exclamation points, or using notable “spammy” terms like “guaranteed winner” and “free gift.” Writing an effective subject line can help your emails look trustworthy to users, thus elevating engagement.
Personalizing your subject line is also a great way to stand out to readers. In fact, personalized emails are 26% more likely to be opened by subscribers.
Your email was reported as spam
At some point or another, a subscriber will likely mark one of your emails as spam. Because of this, marketers should be tracking subscriber behavior to note any potential issues.
Email providers and ISPs are also tracking spam reports. This means future email campaigns may be sent to the junk folder whether or not the individual recipient actually marked your emails as spam.
Only send emails to those who have provided consent
Spam complaints most often occur when users receive emails without their consent. Sending mail to bought lists will heighten your chances of being filtered into spam. Plus, bought lists are simply unethical.
Grow your list organically through content upgrades, newsletter content, and giveaways. You can even go one step further and require double opt-in. This will require users to confirm that yes, they really did register to receive your emails.
Make sure your content is relevant
There are a number of reasons why someone may mark your emails as spam. One such reason is irrelevant content. While this may not fit the dictionary definition of email spam, people will use the spam flag anyway, simply to filter their inboxes and reduce clutter.
This highlights the importance of segmenting your email list and sending relevant content to the subscribers it will appeal to most.
Let them know who you are
Another reason people may mark your email as spam is because they don’t immediately recognize who the email is from.
Good design can combat this kind of spam report. Clearly list your company name or logo at the top of your email and include other identifying features. This will ensure that subscribers can immediately see who the email is from.
The example below is a great example of identifying your business in an email.
The game title is listed right at the top of the email, along with a bright image of a recognizable character. There is less chance someone would be confused about the sender of this email and, therefore, less chance it will be marked as spam.
Your emails are breaking the rules
In an effort to reduce spam and make consumers more aware of who is contacting them with marketing messages, governments around the world have enacted digital contact laws and regulations.
In the United States, these regulations are described as CAN-SPAM. Businesses that want to contact email subscribers for marketing purposes must follow these rules.
For example, you must include your business’ physical address as a part of your email. Customers need to know where you can be found, and this information must be clearly shown in your marketing campaign.
Also, a visible, easy-to-find opt-out button or link needs to be included with every email. There are also rules about creating false or misleading headlines.
While you may be hesitant to clearly show an unsubscribe link, being in compliance with CAN-SPAM is essential. Be sure to offer great content as part of your email marketing campaigns, and you won’t have to worry about people choosing to unsubscribe in large numbers.
Your emails aren’t being opened
Email service providers closely track which emails are opened at a high rate and which ones aren’t. Emails that are immediately deleted or archived without being opened could be considered spam, even if the recipient has not marked the email as such. This further highlights the importance of creating an engaged email subscriber list.
Low open rates may be a sign that your subject lines are not effective.
You may be lacking personalization, the offer may not be exciting, or the subject line could appear to be worded similarly to spam as we discussed above. The subject line is your chance to grab the attention of your subscribers and convince them to open your email.
If email providers see that your emails are being opened at a healthy rate, then they’re less likely to direct your emails into the junk folder automatically.
Tracking open rates can reveal which subject lines seem to resonate with subscribers and which ones do not. As you send more emails, you can see how your subscribers are reacting to your subject lines simply by monitoring your open rate and tracking the average over time.
Your email list is out-of-date
Over time, your email subscribers may change their email address, stop using the account, or go off the grid. Whatever the reason, sending emails to addresses no longer in use can contribute to emails marked as spam.
As a result, you should regularly evaluate your email list for subscribers who no longer engage with you.
An engagement campaign is a quick way to see who is still invested in your emails.
This is usually an offer that requests them to opt back into your email list. Sometimes, a special offer may be included with an engagement campaign to build more excitement.
If subscribers do not respond to the engagement campaign, then they can be removed from your email list. This helps increase your open rate, removes inactive accounts, and allows you to focus more on subscribers still engaged with your brand.
Regularly completing this kind of email list review ensures your list remains healthy for the long term.
So, why are my emails going to junk mail in Outlook?
This is the frustrated cry of countless email marketers who know their content isn’t junk. However, there are algorithms and predictive technologies working to protect email users from spam.
And sometimes, these tools get a little overactive.
If you find your emails are ending up in the junk folder more often, you may want to consider the above tips to ensure that you get better placement right into the inbox of your subscribers.
At Campaign Monitor, we give you the tools to design better emails and track important metrics that can help you avoid the spam folder and grow conversions from your subscribers.
Want to start creating better email marketing campaigns? Try Campaign Monitor for free!