If you're using your own domain to send your email messages, you control what happens to your messages - if they get delivered to recipients' inboxes, spam folders, or not at all. Managing your email reputation is just one element included within this breakdown of the four gateways that stand between you and your recipients' inboxes:

With those gateways in mind, here are 10 easy spam triggers you can avoid that send your email messages to the Promotions tab in Gmail or worse – to the spam folder.

1. More images in your message than text

If your messages include fewer words than images, they’ll most likely be flagged as spam. And if you send a message that is just one big image, you can basically guarantee that no one will receive it. Try not to exceed a 60/40 text to image ratio in your message content. Want to be even more conservative? Don’t exceed an 80/20 text to image ratio.

2. Poorly formatted HTML

HTML should be properly coded using best practices or most ESPs will flag your message as spam. While Cannabiz Media does offer an HTML block within the email campaign builder, it is recommended that only experts attempt to use it.

3. Difficult to see unsubscribe link

The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you include an easy to find unsubscribe link in your messages, and so do email hosts. Cannabiz Media automatically adds this to each campaign and manages opt-outs for you, but don’t shrink the size or change the color to make it invisible. Don’t try to hide it by adding a lot of line breaks or white space between the end of your message content and the unsubscribe link. Your unsubscribe link must remain obvious to stay in compliance with the law and to stay out of the spam folder.

4. Missing physical address in the footer

The CAN-SPAM Act also requires that you include your physical address in the footer of your email. Cannabiz Media adds this for you with the [customer_address] tag, but you do need to make sure that information is correct in your account (or add it if the field is blank in your account).

5. Flash, JavaScript, or too many gifs

Filling messages with Flash, JavaScript, and multiple gifs is a common spam tactic that ESPs look for. Try to avoid these elements, or include them minimally in your messages. Instead, link to videos and other flashy elements hosted elsewhere. It’s important to note that embedded videos within a message are also a spam flag. The Cannabiz Media email editor allows you to include links to videos but it does not allow you to embed video content.

6. Attachments

Do not include attachments in your email marketing messages if you want the messages to get to recipients’ inboxes. ESPs are very likely to flag your messages as spam if they include attachments to protect their users from potential viruses. Instead, utilize a button that links to the document which you can host through Cannabiz Media or on your own channel.

7. Spam trigger words

While spam trigger words carry less weight in terms of flagging your messages as spam today than they used to, it’s still important to avoid using words in your subject lines or message body that ESPs actively look for to filter out unwanted messages or send them to the Promotions tab in Gmail accounts. Some examples of common spam trigger words include free, guarantee, get paid, earn money, affordable, pre-approved, money back, lowest price, information you requested, all natural, call now, cheap, amazing, fantastic, and limited time.

8. URL shorteners

If you use a URL shortener like Bitly or TinyURL in your email marketing messages, your messages will probably be flagged as spam. The reason is that many spammers hide potentially dangerous links with URL shorteners. When you’re hyperlinking text or using buttons, the URL isn’t visible within the email regardless, so using a shortener is an unnecessary and hazardous step.

9. All caps, excessive punctuation, emojis, Re, or Fw

While special characters and capitalization carry less weight in ESPs’ spam algorithms, it’s best to save the emojis for Facebook. Furthermore, don’t use Re: or Fw: in your subject lines to make people think they already know you. Both are spam triggers.

10. Large HTML files sizes

Always check the HTML file size of your messages before you send them if they include a lot of images or animated GIFs. Most ESPs send messages over 100 KB to spam. That’s not all. Gmail and Yahoo! clip messages that are over 102 KB, so recipients only see part of the message and have to click a link to view the rest online, which hurts your engagement rate and your results.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Keep in mind, the list above isn’t all-inclusive, but if you follow email marketing best practices and avoid making these 10 mistakes, you’ll increase the chances that your messages get into people’s inboxes.

Many people assume when their email marketing messages don’t make it to the people on their lists that the problem is with the email marketing tool and provider, but take a look at the content of your messages first. You just might be causing your own problems by sending messages that have no chance of getting past spam filters.

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