In general, the content of a message and the reputation of a sender determine what is/is not sorted into spam. Messages are reviewed by the system and assigned a "spam score." The default minimum spam score is 5/10. Anything 5 or higher would be sorted into a separate spam folder.
There are steps that can be taken to improve your reputation and your message's spam score, but please keep in mind that diagnosing and addressing this issue can be trial and error. In many cases, it is unfortunately outside of your control and One Eleven's control.
These suggestions are general, but are given in a logical order. You may have already checked a few. If you've checked them all and none of them are yielding results, reach out to us and let us know.
- Are you sending spam?
I know...I know...but let's be honest for a moment. If you send mail to a mailing list, there is a good chance it is impacting your domain's reputation, even if you responsibly manage your mailing list. Your customers or contacts might not understand the difference between marking an email as spam and unsubscribing from the mailing list.
- Could a dumb machine misread the content of your message as spam?
When the server is applying spam filters to your message, it is not actually interpreting the message. It is looking for certain words and phrases that are commonly used in spam and odd/incorrect grammar. There are literally thousands of words and phrases that spam filters check for. Removing these words can improve deliverability. We recommend searching for a "free spam checker" on Google. There are many of these tools online that can tell you if you are using ill-advised words.
Far and away the most common reason mail is improperly marked as spam when it is both sent and received is that it is an attachment or link with no body text. Spammers frequently send mail in this way because it cannot be scanned and filtered. Accordingly, it often gets marked as spam. Adding some superficial text like a greeting and a couple of sentences can make a big difference here.
- Is it in "Spam" or marked as "suspicious" across all systems?
Sometimes, an email client like Outlook or Apple Mail will do its own sorting, either inherently or because at some point it was configured to do so. Also, the older an email client is, the more likely it is to label things incorrectly.
Sometimes it will be the case that specific email services, like Gmail, are sending all of a domain's email that it receives to spam. Generally that means you are not meeting their minimum security requirements. You can update the appropriate DNS records (addressed below) or reach out to that email service for more details.
If your emails are only getting marked as spam or suspicious for one individual, they usually need to address that issue on their end by adding your email to their contacts or selecting to "trust this sender."
- Does your DNS have up-to-date DKIM/DMARC/SPF records in place?
[For brevity's sake, we aren't going to get into the nitty gritty on what each of these are, but rather who manages them and how to find them.]
SPF record- Needs to be updated for every system you are using to send email. For instance, if you are using Mailchimp or Quickbooks to send marketing campaigns or invoices, the SPF record needs to reflect that. Generally you can find the SPF records needed for these sorts of services with a google search. EXAMPLE: search "Constant Contact SPF Record." Note that you should only have ONE SPF record that contains all of the necessary and pertinent information.
DMARC- Needs to be written by a member of your team. You can find free services online that guide you through the process of writing it.
DKIM- In most cases, you will need to generate a DKIM record with any service or software you are using to send email. Unlike SPF records, DKIM records are wholly unique.
If you need assistance with your DNS, feel free to reach out to us. We'll usually at least be able to help you find who to talk to.