Email Rules to Avoid Spam Filters and Keep Your Marketing Emails CAN-SPAM Compliant


Marketing email tactics seem simple enough: Offer brilliant incentives, build trust, create compelling content, and write strong CTAs. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into making those campaigns as perfect as possible before hitting send. Then, nothing. What happened?

According to a 2020 email delivery bench mark report by Validity, one in six emails doesn't make it to the inbox on the other end.

However, has a few tips and marketing email rules that you can use to prevent your emails from dropping off the list and into those dreaded spam folders — your hard work deserves to be seen.

Also, updates in spamming and spam filters means updates in rules. We want to make sure you understand how to stay compliant with U.S. spam mail regulations, also known as CAN-SPAM.  

Top 3 rules for avoiding spam filters in 2021

After you hit send, your email goes through a check process. Something as simple as a word can stop you at the gateway. If it does make it through, Google, Outlook, and other email providers have advanced their spam filter game and can now read into the interactions people have had with your previous emails.

The three main Internet Service Provider (ISP) spam filters are: 

  • Gateway spam filters
  • Hosted spam filters (third-party)
  • Device filters (desktop, mobile, tablet)

These are typically layered so you have some critical thinking to do. Here's where you get started:

1. Content, content, content

Words matter, and the key factor to an email not making it to an inbox are words that the sender (you) uses in the subject line. Then, the ISPs scan for those words in the email and the content you use as well.

Phrases such as “lose weight fast” and “Earn Money Now” are guaranteed to send you to the spam folder. Content such as videos, infographics, and photos are great for site engagement, but should be used sparingly for email. Although you can add a nice photo for some flair, or hyperlink a play button to your YouTube channel, don’t overdo the links and don’t include forms. Forms are a red flag indicator that you are “phishing” for information.

What you should include is a button to “Add us to your contacts” — it can help you get to your reader’s inbox. When crafting emails, make the subject line personal and relevant. It also helps to add your business name in the subject line and send the email from an account using your business domain ( This can help boost your authority and chances of making it to inboxes.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) Spam Filters

2. Third-party verification

Third-party verification helps ISPs see your IP (the online address you send emails from) as part of the cool crowd, the kind that doesn't spam your friends or theirs. This is also known as sender accreditation or email reputation certification.

Verification services can check that you're following standards. When you send emails, the ISP cross-checks your domain and verifies your status. If you have been verified, you are typically sent through to the inbox.  

3. Email list purging and segmentation

When you have a large email list, there are probably email addresses on there that are closed, no longer responsive, or don't exist, which shows as a hard “bounce” (or rejection) from your email.

ISPs index a sender’s reputation by how many bounces they are receiving. High bounce rates lower your credibility and is a sure way for your email to be sent to the spam box.

Segmentation is a great way to build credibility and help prevent this from happening. You can send relevant emails to smaller groups on your list to boost email engagement and confidence in your email campaigns. 

Notable mentions

While the top three are major players in making your email campaigns viable, a couple of hacks can help enhance them. Before you send your email campaign, it is a good idea to scan it for spam triggers. Email readers such as Glock App can assist you in making sure your campaign isn't full of spammy words and content.

Also, be sure to keep up with your reputation; it’s free with programs like SenderScore from Validity. Understanding your IP stats and keeping tabs on your email campaigns is pertinent to productivity and ROI.  

CAN-SPAM compliance

The United States CAN-SPAM Act regulates email messages, which it defines as “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”  

This includes B2B (business-to-business) and is not limited to bulk email either. There are multiple violations against this act and each one can carry a fine of over $43,000.  

The main requirements outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) include:

  • Monitoring third-party email campaign providers working on your behalf
  • Not using misleading, false headings
  • Letting the receiver know it is an advertisement
  • Informing receiver how to opt-out of receiving the emails
  • Following through with opt-out requests promptly
  • Letting the recipient know where you are located

If there are leads on your email list that live in Europe, you should also familiarize yourself with the General DataProtection Regulation (GDPR). These guidelines for the European Union are stricter than the CAN-SPAM regulations and are taken very seriously.

Capture more leads from your email campaigns

Email campaigns are effective at generating leads, no matter what industry you're in. A great way to keep them personal and trustworthy is to provide a phone number where your clients or potential customers can expect to reach you. Unfortunately, with the number of leads an email can bring, keeping up may prove to be a challenge. But it doesn't have to be, and that is where virtual receptionists can help.

We can qualify and intake new leadsbook appointments, and collect payments. Whether you are getting calls or texts, our trained virtual receptionists are capable of gathering and screening those leads and passing along the ones that are the most qualified to convert. We even offer bilingual answering services for a more advanced, comprehensive, and satisfying customer service experience.

You can get started risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee! We are also available for a free 30-minute consultation. If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact us at

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Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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