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How to Avoid Spam

Practical example with 7 Common Errors That Land Your Emails in Spam and How to Avoid Them
Published 3 months ago

Personalized outreach

The other day, I opened my spam folder, which I hadn't checked in a while, and found an email that caught my attention since I couldn't believe how bad written it was. I immediately realized it was an automated email with typical beginner mistakes and thought it was a great example to share with you, so we can avoid ending up in the spam folder.

In this case, we won’t talk about whether how to write a good cold email or if the email sounds convincing. We’re going to focus on the common errors we should avoid when sending out cold emails. This way, we can make sure our emails get to where they're supposed to go and not get stuck in spam.

7 Common Errors That Land Your Emails into Spam:

Wrong Format

The improper formatting presents significant challenges in this email, highlighting two main issues:

  • Excessive Use of Bold: The decision to format the entire message in bold is uncommon and unconventional. Typically, emails exchanged between individuals utilize plain text, sparingly incorporating formatting elements. Opting to write the entire body in bold is typically reserved for emphasizing specific points, not the entire content of the message.

  • Email Footer with a Visual Separator: The use of a visual separator to delineate the email footer points to the deployment of a template. This indicator reveals that the email was not personalized for the recipient. Such visual elements are characteristic of automated emails and can lead to disinterest or distrust from the recipient from the outset. This detail is crucial and warrants deep contemplation on how to improve the perception of personalization in communication.

Unpersonalized email

An unpersonalized message typically lacks the necessary appeal to capture the recipient's attention. The essence of sending a prospecting email lies in maximizing its personalization, thus guaranteeing that each recipient perceives a genuine interest in their particular situation, their business, and their specific challenges. It is imperative to move away from generic approaches and adopt one that speaks directly to the recipient in question.

There are various strategies for personalizing an email. These can be applied both on a macro level, targeting broad audience segments, and on a micro level, focusing on the individuality of the recipient. The golden rule remains unchanged: make each person feel that the message was crafted and written with them specifically in mind.

In this instance, the email in question makes the fundamental mistake of omitting even the most basic level of personalization, such as including the {{first name}} variable that automatically personalizes the email with the recipient's name. This oversight not only highlights a clear deficit in the quality of the managed data but also a potential lack of the technical skills necessary to implement effective personalization tactics.

Nowadays, there are advanced platforms that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), for illustration, which are capable of both conducting a detailed analysis of the prospect and automatically generating personalized emails for every individual within a large list of contacts. This technology allows for a much more effective and personal approach to communication, ensuring significantly better results compared to unpersonalized methods.

Use of Spam-Words

The use of certain words in emails, known as spam-words or phrases flagged as spam, can lead your messages to be directly routed to the spam folder. Words such as "free", "guaranteed", "risk-free", or "exclusive offer" are filtered out by the recipient's algorithms and servers, diminishing the visibility of your communication.

However, there are situations where you can use these words without the risk of affecting the deliverability of your message:

  • When recipients have added your email address to their safe sender's list.

  • If you have already had previous correspondence with the recipient, which included message exchanges and responses.

  • When the recipient is part of the same organization as you.

In this email, some potentially problematic terms and expressions were identified, such as “free” and the highly catchy “HURRY, this exclusive offer ends today”. Even the excessive use of exclamation marks could negatively impact. To avoid spam flags, an effective strategy is to use circumlocution, opting for expressions with significant semantic variations, such as “completely open access to the public” instead of “free”. This approach not only improves the chances that your email reaches its intended destination but also enriches the text, making it more attractive and professional.

Capitalized words

Using capitalized words excessively in cold emails can lead those emails into the spam folder not only by the email provider by also by the own receptor who clearly identifies the email as spam.

Email providers and email services have sophisticated spam filters that scrutinize incoming emails for characteristics commonly associated with spam. These algorithms have been trained on vast datasets of emails and are often updated to combat evolving spam techniques. One characteristic often associated with spam is the heavy use of CAPITAL LETTERS in the subject line or the body of the email. Capitalized words are perceived as shouting or trying aggressively to grab attention, a tactic frequently used in spam messages to push a sale or scam.

Not having a personalized email addressed

The use of an email address that includes "via mailchimpapp.net" blatantly reveals that the email has been sent using an email marketing tool. This reference is a telltale sign that the process has been automated, diminishing the personal touch in the communication.

When opting for advanced Cold Emailing tools, the ideal scenario is for these to allow emails to be sent using the user’s direct email address, acting as an extension of the user rather than functioning beneath a layer of intermediation. This subtlety creates a perception of authenticity and closeness, simulating that the user is initiating the sending of the message directly from their own inbox.

External links

I've hidden the external link in the email as well as the email address it came from to maintain the sender's privacy. However, I didn't want to miss pointing out a specific mistake that is often seen. In this case, the sender has put a link to a site that doesn't share the same domain as the one from which the email is being sent. This is often a red flag for spam filters and can lower your deliverability reputation.

It's also true that we often use secondary domains for sending cold emails. In such cases, one recommendation is to redirect this secondary domain to the main domain, so you can safely send your links without ending up in the spam folder. This means that both the @secondarydomain.com you use to send cold emails and the external link (secondarydomain.com) provided in the body of your email should be the same and redirect to your main site.

How do we then send necessary links like those to a meeting or social networks? It's important to understand that including external links different from the domain of the mailbox won't always mean landing in spam. I recommend you follow this practice especially when your email box is new and it's the first time you're contacting your prospect. After receiving a response from them, the risk of sending an external link decreases significantly. On the other hand, some external links have higher domain authority than others. Email signature links leading to your social media or Calendly often have high domain authority.

Unsubscribe link

One of the hottest debates in the Growth Marketing and Digital Marketing scene centers on the topic of the unsubscribe link. From our viewpoint, the stance is straightforward: its use is unavoidable in email marketing but completely proscribed in cold emailing.

This stance is grounded on two main reasons:

  • Including such a link is an overt acknowledgment of reliance on automation and a lack of personal touch in the approach.

  • A recipient’s click on this link is interpreted adversely by algorithms, leading to a downgrade in the sender’s and their domain’s email reputation.

Nonetheless, it's fundamental to provide recipients with a way to halt communications if they wish to do so. A feasible alternative could be to replace the traditional unsubscribe link with a note at the end of the email that might read something along the lines of:

PS: If you're not interested, just let me know.

Of course, the wording and tone of this note can vary according to the sender; the key is providing a polite exit for those no longer interested in receiving messages.

There are some platforms like PipeLime that uses AI to detect the email answers of your prospects to understand if they have asked you to stop sending them messages and avoid this way to be sent into spam by the receptors.

This approach comes with several significant advantages:

  • It does not negatively affect the delivery rate when the recipient decides to opt out of communications.

  • The campaign automatically concludes for that person once they respond, halting future messages.

  • Even if the response is one of rejection, it helps to improve the ratio of incoming to outgoing emails, a crucial factor for the deliverability of your future communications.

Of course it always depends in your strategy if you finally include an unsubscribe option or not.


As you can see, these errors are as critical as they are simple to avoid to not end up in the spam folder. Keep these tips in mind for the next time you are crafting your Cold Outreach campaign, or simply make sure to use platforms focused on creating personalized content.

Off-Email Practices we Must Need to Follow

Last but certainly not least, alongside these tips we've just discussed, there are also good technical practices we need to implement when setting up our email accounts to avoid being marked as spam. In this example of an email, we were unable to determine whether it adheres to these practices, but I recommend that you take a look at them to ensure your campaign is configured in the best possible way.


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