Email Deliverability: How to find out if your emails are going to Junk

By Wired Messenger Email Marketing


prevent emails from going to spam

Up Your Email Deliverability: How to find out if your emails are going to Junk

Welcome to the second part of our series on improving your email deliverability. This is the next article in our series and is focused on helping you find out if your marketing emails are actually hitting your customer’s inboxes or if they’re ending up in their junk folders.



You may spend hours trying to ensure that the emails you are sending are perfect. You want them to be informative, to showcase your business in the best light possible and be something that people will respond to. You have a perfect call to action at the end in hopes of getting your email to turn into a sale or at least some interest.

What happens after all this time spent on something, if it doesn’t work? What if your emails are going to the junk folders of those who have signed up to your email list? It can be frustrating when you are not seeing results with your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing has one of the highest return on investments of any marketing channel but that doesn’t mean anything if your customers never see your content.

In this article, we are going to show you a few ways to identify if your emails are going to junk folders.

1. Know Your Reputation

What does your sender reputation have to do with people opening your emails or these emails ending up in junk folders? When you send an email out, the email service providers (ESPs) will block certain emails automatically. After all, consider your own email account. Chances are you have seen how many emails are going to your junk folder. Why and how do ESPs make this decision? The ESP is going to decide whether an email is junk or not based on the sender’s reputation in many cases.

What makes for a good sender reputation? Did you know that ESPs track complaints and engagement based on sending IP addresses and/or from email addresses? You want to make sure that your complaints are kept to a minimum and you’re building a strong reputation over time with ESPs to prove that customers want your emails.

So, how do you find out what your sender reputation is? There are several tools out there that can help you. For example, Sender Score and MX Toolbox are great starts for you to know what your ESP reputation really is.

2. Check The Stats

If you are receiving complaints about the emails that you are sending out, then act now! If you keep receiving complaints, this is going to go against your sender reputation and you can almost guarantee that your emails are going to start going into junk folders. How can you monitor just how many complaints you are getting? Almost all email marketing platforms can tell you how many abuse complaints you are getting for each campaign. Go beyond just looking at open and click rates and take a look at how your abuse rate compares to your industry average. If it’s high, you’ll need to take another look at how you are collecting emails and if you’re content is resonating with what you promised.

Make sure you also check out what your average open rates are. If you see that your rates are dropping off significantly, this could be an indication that your emails are going into junk folders. When this begins to happens, also take a look at when the drop off started to happen and go back in time to see if any campaigns or changes in your email list collection could have triggered or caused this.

Lastly, monitor your hard bounce rates (emails sent to email addresses that aren’t being used). High bounce rates are a big signal to ESPs that you may be a spammer. Spammers purchase email or use bots and automated software to find email addresses. These lists typically have very high bounce rates.

3. Check some Blacklists?

There are several businesses who become blacklisted and because of this, their emails are automatically considered spam or junk. How does one become blacklisted? There’s a couple of ways this can happen but most often it’s one of the reasons below:

  • Sending a spike of emails unexpectedly
  • Having spam traps in your email list
  • Excessive abuse complaints
  • Using old or abandoned email addresses
  • Buying an email list; as these users will mark your emails as spam
  • Sending duplicate or similar content

When this happens, emails are simply not going to go through. You can check with your IP or domain to see if you have been blacklisted on some of the most common ones:

All of which can tell you the status of your emails! If you have been blacklisted, start doing things right now! The more you correct, the better chance you have of getting somewhere.

4. Run Some Tests

Set up a few test accounts for your email and then run some real tests to see what is going on. From there you can make a good assumption as to whether your emails are going directly into the junk folder or not! Look into your email list and look at the email address domains to see the most commonly used ones. Start there and make sure you include outlook, gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.

Even if your emails get to your inbox that doesn’t guarantee the same is happening with other emails from the same domain. However, if your emails are going into junk right away there’s a pretty good chance the same is happening to others.

Lastly, make sure you sign-up for feedback loops from the various ESPs. This will allow you to see how they are treating your emails. A few links to the most common ones below:

5. Test Your Content

Many times, people find that their actual email content is the reason that their emails are getting put in junk. You want to make sure that your not using spam keywords in your subject line like $$$ or Get paid as you’ll immediately look like you’re spamming.

There are a few tools that let you test your subject line and email content to make sure it doesn’t get flagged by spam filters. A few of our favourite tools for this are Litmus and Email On Acid. It’s a good idea to start testing your content if you suspect your emails are going to junk.

You spend a lot of time on the emails that you put together to send to your customers. When these precious emails start going into the junk email folders of customers, then it is time to take action. When you notice that your open rate is lowering, it could be that your emails are directly going to junk. If that is the case, you do have options! You simply need to find out the reason why your emails are going to junk in the first place and then act accordingly, use the tools out there to help you figure out where the problem may be, and use common sense to make a solution that works. Look out for our next article that will go into more details on what you can do if your emails are going to junk. If you think you might have a deliverability problem get in touch with our team of experts.

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