Posted Aug 24, 2016 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team

22 Things That Make Your Newsletter Look Like Spam

Email is a fundamental component to running a successful e-commerce business. Some online merchants will only send barebones order notifications to confirm sales and provide tracking details, while others go way further and develop an entire email marketing strategy. Whatever your own strategy is, it’s important that your messages are received, clicked on, and read.

Spam filters are a common barrier between an online entrepreneur and the highest-possible email open rates. Spam filters work by identifying emails with certain characteristics, and interceding before it ever hits the recipient’s mailbox. Also, popular email providers include a button to mark certain emails as spam. While it makes it a cinch to keep your inbox cleaner, it spells nightmares for anyone who wants to keep his or her company’s newsletter well-read.

If your own email campaign includes any of these 22 characteristics, then it’s likely being treated as spam. Your emails, no matter how important, aren’t being taken as seriously as you want them to be.

1. The subject line is written entirely in capital letters.

Nobody likes screaming. Extra capital letters in your subject line both annoy the recipient and act as a trigger for a spam filter.

2. Your newsletter contains use of questionable words.

Some words are recognized by spam filters as dangerous. This means certain common language and expressions can make your message look spammy. Here is a short list of the words that you should avoid in your subject lines and message body:

Marketing and salesprize, bonus, buy, order, shopper, free, cost, profit, save $, click, will not believe your eyes, visit our website, 50% off, join millions, call, winner, stuff on sale
Securityaccept credit card, passwords, not spam, one time mailing, 100% guaranteed
Urgencynow only, instant, urgent, limited
Productviagra, lose weight, all natural, celebrity, luxury car, casino
Adjectivesthe best, successful, amazing, effective, cheap, free

3. It was sent from an IP address with a bad reputation.

Spam filters look at your sending IP in deciding what to do with incoming emails. If your IP reputation is damaged, it can truly hurt your newsletter’s deliverability.

Fortunately, you can use special tools to determine if this problem applies to you. To avoid a bad reputation, remove any open proxies or any potentially misconfigured applications from your server. Monitor it for viruses.

4. It contains weak copy.

Don’t try to be pushy in your marketing efforts. Over-the-top sentences like “Buy now!!!” or “Read our blog daily” put you at risk of triggering a spam filter.

5. It includes interactive content.

Unfortunately, your genuine attempts to interact with your email audience may be a signal to spam filters. Be careful with including JavaScript content, RSS feeds, polls, and other forms — if you’re using any of these, monitor your open rate carefully to make sure you are not losing views and clicks.

6. It contains bad code.

Spammers are terrible coders. If your code is messy, your newsletter is more likely to be treated as spam. Please, don’t copy-paste your text from Microsoft Word documents. If you do, you are including styling tags and other unnecessary stuff in your code. Also, make sure you understand what every part of the coding means; there might be things that you can throw away.

7. You’re using bad punctuation in your subject line.

Beware of multiple exclamations!!! and multiple question marks, or other overly emotional punctuation. It’s a cheap trick that spammers adore.

8. You’re using too many font colors.

Making your copy too colorful is a bad idea, even if it looks really pretty.

9. You’re using large font sizes.

Using text larger than 10 or 12 pt will not do you any good.

10. You’re being too creative with your text’s appearance.

We strongly recommended to use an informal tone in your newsletter and other customer communication, but it doesn’t mean you should play with spelling. D0n’t use f1gures 1nstead of letters, and v1ce v3rsa.

11. You use a URL shortener.

Many shortened domains (even the popular are included on block lists — emails containing such shortened links may not be received.

12. You are missing certain required information.

Whatever content you fill your newsletter with is up to you. But according to the law, all marketing emails must contain your physical address and the link to the unsubscribe page. You can probably guess what happens to emails that don’t include these elements.

13. You use poor list management.

If few people click on and open your emails, many mail servers will consider you a spammy sender. To push back against this problem, you should regularly remove inactive recipients from your list.

14. Your timing is bad.

If it takes you too long between getting someone’s email address and sending them an email, your readers will forget who you are and mark your newsletter as spam.

15. You email too frequently.

Don’t overdo your email marketing. Your strategy shouldn’t look like a rapid-fire attack. Make sure your assorted lists don’t overlap, and that there aren’t people receiving all your segmented mail at once.

16. You’re signing people up in person.

You may wonder what the problem is with such a genuine face-to-face interaction. The thing is, people often don’t remember signing up in person. They usually fill out paper forms by reflex because they were promised a discount or want to take part in an event. They don’t actually expect to receive your emails. Be careful, and don’t use physical forms as the main source of email addresses. Alternatively, you can grow your email list with free, customizable, exit-intent popups using Privy.

17. You have a bad sender policy framework (SPF) record.

An SPF record prevents spammers from sending messages with forged From addresses at your domain. Make sure your SPF is set up correctly.

18. Your emails aren’t segmented.

Always segment your most active prospects so that you contact them first, proving that your emails are desirable.

19. You’re sending a text-based message as an image.

In designing your emails, you might get carried away and establish the written text as an image. This trick will trigger spam filters.

20. The subject lines are misleading.

Don’t attract customers by claiming they’ve already won something when the truth is that they have to take some sort of action in order to participate in a competition. Be truthful!

21. You change the “from” email address too often.

Changing the “from” address not only looks suspicious to spam filters, but it can mislead and confuse your audience.

22. You’re using a suspicious “from” address.

You’d better not send your newsletter or notifications from domains like It should seem natural and human.


Now is time to reconsider your email campaigns. Do they make use of any of these tactics? If so, it means that you are compromising your newsletter’s reach and selling potential. Whip it into shape and use it as the effective marketing tool that it can be.

About the author
Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music and home-cooked food.
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