How to Avoid Spam Filters: Send Bulk Email the Right Way

Sending emails in bulk is a common recruiting practice. You can have any number of high quality candidates that are qualified for a single job order, so you send off a single email to a large group of recipients. The problem is, depending on many factors, your emails may be going straight to the spam folder.

Email Spam Definition

Email spam is nefarious and/or unwarranted emails sent in bulk to an email list. Bulk email does not necessarily mean spam; recruiters utilize bulk emails daily. However, all bulk email has the potential to be received as spam if it is sent in the wrong way. In this article, you’ll learn how to send bulk email the right way, so you never have to worry about your email being sent straight to the spam folder again.

How Do Spam Filters Work?

There are hundreds of factors that go into determining if an email is spam. The CAN-SPAM Act thoroughly establishes what classifies spam from a legal perspective, and email clients act as the gatekeepers from the technical side. What specifically triggers an email client to mark an email as spam is mostly unknown; truly, one single variable does not define whether an email gets flagged. However, the more reasons you give an email client to mark a message as spam, the more likely it is to send it to spam folder. 

If your email happens to escape getting flagged as spam, the recipient can still make it so. When a recipient marks your email as spam, it will cause their email client to see your address as untrustworthy, and the more recipients mark you as spam, the more likely your email will be automatically flagged in the future. Here are the main reasons emails get marked as spam, either by an email client or the recipient themselves. 

Misleading Subject Lines: Trying to trick recipients into reading your email is a surefire way to get marked as spam. If you have to deceive your email list, then your content is not strong enough. Instead, write more applicable subject lines. Keep it simple and straightforward. 

Spam Buzzwords: A handful of words can trigger email clients to flag your email as spam. The more spam trigger words you have in your email (especially your subject line), the better chance you have at getting thrown in the spam folder. Avoid using these words if you can; not only will the email client notice them, but recipients hate seeing emails telling them to “Act Now!”

Poor Email Bodies: Poorly written email bodies can be flagged for a variety of reasons. Formatting discrepancies, using too many font sizes, and inserting too much color or attention grabbing text are all examples of formatting red flags. Conversely, using too little text or just one large image can similarly make your email look like spam. Furthermore, poor grammar and spelling may not only be flagged by the email client, but it also makes your email look sloppy and unprofessional, and sloppy and unprofessional emails often get marked as spam.

No Physical Address: You must include a physical address when sending an email to a list of recipients. It helps the email client see you as legitimate. If you work from home and don’t want to willingly give away your address, you should use a P.O. Box.

No Permission: Any time you get a new email address, you should send them an opt-in email before sending them anything else. An opt-in is a way for them to show that they accept your emails. If someone gets an unsolicited email without prior notice, then they are likely to mark it as spam. 

No Opt-Out: Including an opt-out in your emails is one of the more important and enforced rule when it comes to spam. By providing no way for email recipients to opt-out of your mailing list is akin to holding them hostage. Some recruitment software, like CATS, forces you to include an opt-out when you have over a certain amount of recipients. 

Historically Shady Emails: Email clients remember your email address, so if that address has sent consistently suspicious emails, then you’re more likely to land in the spam folder. This can happen when recipients mark you as spam at a steady rate. It’s very possible that your emails don’t read as spam but are still flagged as spam. This might be because of poor email practices in the past.

Low Engagement: Low engagement happens because of poorly written email subjects and bodies. Unopened emails, deleted unopened emails, or emails that were opened and then immediately deleted can indicate low email engagement. Emails with historically low engagement have a greater chance of being flagged as spam. 

Invalid Email Recipients: non-existent or bounced email addresses are another way to get flagged by an email client. Before sending bulk email, it’s important that you make sure that all email addresses are valid. And please, never buy a list of emails from a third party. 

How to Avoid Spam Filters

Similar to how a bunch of tiny things can trigger marking an email as spam, there are various precautions you can take to avoid getting marked as spam. The more precautions you can implement into your bulk email practices, the fewer emails will be flagged and the better response rate you should have. 

Track Engagement: If you aren’t already, you should be tracking how recipients engage with your emails. Then, you can adjust your strategy based on what you find. Take advantage of the tools at your disposal; your ATS or email client should have built in email tracking. You can get even more granular with a tool like Yesware or Mixmax, software designed to track a variety of different email metrics. 

Be Personal: If you research your contacts so that you really know them, then you’ll see your emails reach more people. Candidates and clients are smart — they know an email template when they see one. This is not to say that templates are not helpful; on the contrary, they are necessary for bulk email. However, using templates doesn’t mean impersonality. You can carefully build a variety of templates for a variety of smaller segments of recipients, each having their own personal flair. Take a look at some email best practices to improve the quality of your emails. 

Ask for Whitelistings: The best way to get whitelisted is to simply ask. After an email recipient opts-in to your email listing, follow up by asking them to whitelist your email address. This will indicate that your email is trustworthy, and their email client will avoid marking you as spam. Here is a resource that explains how to request whitelisting

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) Generally, when you send an email from an ATS or other software, your email address isn’t the one actually sending the email. Email clients are, naturally, skeptical of emails like this. Setting up DKIM works on two levels. First, it makes it so your email appears as if it were directly from your email address. Second, it marks you as a legitimate, non-spam source of emails.

Check Your Email: This should come as a no-brainer, but proofread your emails. Make sure that everything is spelled right, there are no punctuation errors, and see if you can improve formatting in any way. Then, you can use a free tool like MailTester to see how spammy or not your email is.

Familiarize Yourself With the CAN-SPAM Act: It’s all there. Familiarize yourself with the rules and keep them in mind when crafting bulk email. And, even if you’re not in the US, you can still use the CAN-SPAM Act to improve your email delivery.

Recruiters have different methods by which they attract both candidates and clients, but it would be a challenge to find a recruiter who hasn’t sent at least one email in bulk to a variety of addresses. When these times arise, you have to be sure that your email doesn’t get sent to the spam folder. By being transparent, staying compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, and by making sure the details are in order, you can rest assured that your bulk emails will reach their desired targets.