Beat the spam filter and land in your prospects’ inbox

By Sergei Arend | Published on May 11, 2023

Since the first spam email in 1978, we Internet users have been concerned with protecting our space and our information. Spam — or “junk mail” — can be harmful in two ways: by taking up space in your inbox so more relevant, important messages get lost in a sea of nonsense or, more nefariously, by attempting to gain access to your private information. So… how are we protected against spam?

Introducing the unsung heroes of the email space: spam filters!

Spam filters are a wonderful tool — a layer of protection against potential threats and useless clutter.

As cold email specialists, you’d think that we’d be shaking our fists and muttering under our breath about spam filters, but that’s not the case. Sure, they make sending (and receiving) cold emails harder, but that just means companies that prioritize deliverability and optimization based on performance data set themselves apart from the rest.

What follows is a breakdown of some steps you can take to reduce the negative effect of spam filters on your cold email campaigns.


Protect your domain reputation

The default domain that your emails are sent from is most likely unauthenticated. Using these domains to send out large volumes of emails can set the precedent that you’re doing what so many spammers do — spraying out thousands and thousands of irrelevant or harmful emails and praying that even a handful of them get opened.

Ditch the “spray and pray” mentality. If you’re using a respected email sequencing tool, you can set up a subdomain that links to this tool’s servers, which in turn sets you up as a trusted emailer.

Your IP address should also be “warmed up”. When you launch a cold email campaign, you shouldn’t immediately start sending out 1000 emails a day from your newly created IP address. Instead, you should start with a lower volume and gradually increase until you get to your desired number of daily sent emails.

The service providers who control your sending and the spam filters that protect your prospects will, in this way, recognise you as a legitimate emailer — thus, building and securing your IP reputation.


Optimize your messaging and target audience

There’s always the chance that prospects may not engage with your emails. It could be due to messaging that isn’t relevant/captivating, or your audience targeting is off. This is why testing is important. 

We run A/B tests at every step of our sequences, especially at the beginning. 

By accurately tracking the performance of your copy and the specific personas which are engaging with your messaging, you’ll be empowered to optimize your campaigns based on what is and isn’t working. Switch off email variants that generate no engagement and remove job titles that aren’t interested, and populate your sequences with what works.

If you don’t do this, your IP address will be flagged as one that is sending out thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of email templates that are largely ignored by its audience or, even worse, are being marked as spam. 

This could mean that an increasing number of subsequent emails will end up in your prospects’ spam inbox.


KISS – Keep It Short & Simple

This is a mantra of our copywriting department. Its message — carved into our hallowed halls by the painfully sharp knife of experience — is itself cogent: people don’t like reading long, unsolicited emails, and simple copy is less likely to trigger spam filters.

These are three of the many reasons why shorter cold emails work best:

  1.  You have fewer words to “convince” the prospect of something, therefore they’re more likely to believe you’re genuinely gauging interest (and they’re therefore more likely to engage).
  2.  You’re an uninvited guest in someone’s inbox. It’s impolite and entitled to expect them to spend more than 2 minutes (if even that) reading your email — be respectful of their time.
  3.  With less “clutter” around, it’s easier for the prospect to understand your CTA — what action you’d like them to take after reading your email. Easier to understand instructions = increased chance people will follow them.

So much for “short”, but what about “simple”? 

To illustrate this, think of the following dreadful scenario: you’ve spent hours painstakingly crafting creative copy that is clear and concise, but the email never lands up in the prospect’s inbox. What then?

You keep your short copy simple — avoid rich text formatting, all-caps, pictures, and hyperlinks. 

There are also certain words which can trigger spam filters only because spammers are notorious for using them. It’s hard to produce an exhaustive list of all possible spam words because email service providers tend to be rather secretive of the exact details of their spam filters (for obvious reasons). 

There are quite a few online tools you can use to check your email copy for spam words. After using a few of them regularly, you’ll start to get an idea of the words and phrases that are likely to trigger spam filters.

To close off this whole discussion, I’ll provide an example subject line and you decide whether you think this should go to someone’s primary inbox or their spam folder:

“EXCITING opportunity: for LIMITED time ONLY get AMAZING NEW marketing software ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!! NO $$$ OR CREDIT CARD REQUIRED”

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