Gmail Spam Folder
What this wedding photographer was sharing horrified me.

“Our email inquiries dropped. I thought we just needed to do more marketing,” he said. “Then we finally figured it out. The email notifications from the contact form on our website were going straight to our Spam folder. We’d been missing every single inquiry from our contact form…for the last two years!”

How could this be possible? How could the our LEADS, the life blood of our wedding business, end up in the spam folder?

It could be happening to you…and you might never know it.

The Hidden Spam Problem

We’re ALL that vulnerable. Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail apply their spam filters in order to protect us from getting unwanted email, but it often backfires when an email from a bride or groom…or even an email we send to ourselves!…is sent directly to the spam folder.

But it gets worse. Your email might not even MAKE it to the spam folder.

This has been happening to me over the past few weeks. Becky (my lovely assistant) replied to one of my emails, and I never got them. We checked Spam and found nothing.

This was REALLY weird, given that we email each other successfully back and forth all day long. We retried sending the email numerous times without any luck. Why was Gmail refusing to deliver this email?

If something in your email “looks like spam” to Gmail, they will block it entirely.  No spam folder and without any undeliverable warning.

It turned out that I’d included some html code in my email to Becky. Gmail allowed me to send it to her, but for some reason it blocked her reply. When we took out the code and reproduced the email, everything was sent and received just fine.

After doing a little investigating, I learned a few things about why this phenomenon occurs. There are three different types of filters your email must pass through before it lands in the inbox.

The more spam we get, the more vigilant our email service providers get at trying to protect us. Sometimes they get it WRONG and end up blocking emails we actually want to get.

How To Find Out If You Have a Secret Spam Problem

Okay. So our email service providers put their filters on steroids in order to beat up spam. But how do we make sure we’re receiving the emails we want? And more importantly, that brides and grooms are receiving our emails?

Check each of the items on this list to make sure you’re safely receiving the emails you want to get, and couples are receiving yours.

1. Test the contact form on your website.

You should be doing this anyway, but make sure your contact form notifications are landing in your inbox. Set up a filter to make sure these emails never go to spam.

2. Check your spam folder DAILY to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

I’ve found numerous customer emails that were mistakenly sent to spam. It’s worth taking a moment at the end of the day to scan your spam emails to catch anything you’d otherwise miss.

3. If you find a legitimate email in your spam folder, mark it as “Not Spam.”

You want to train your email client to send the emails you actually want to see to your inbox. It can take 2-3 times until Gmail “gets it,” so keep trying until it works.

4. Add the email address of anyone whose emails you want to receive to your address book and whitelist them.

This makes it more likely that they’ll land in your inbox. It’s also a good practice to teach your clients how to do this as well by sending them a welcome email containing instructions.

5. Avoid using these “spam triggers” in your emails.

The list of spam triggers is unique to each email service, and it’s a long one. Even some innocent phrases we use all the time as wedding professionals (like “Congratulations!”) make the list.

6. Test the deliverability of any email templates you use on a regular basis with a service like Email on Acid.

The test results show you exactly what your email looks like in over 70 different email clients, and the full deliverability test lets you know if your email is getting blocked. It’s worth paying the $5 fee to make sure your emails are getting delivered.

7. Check to make sure your IP address isn’t blacklisted.

Email services use these anti-spam blacklists to block suspicious IP addresses. It’s possible that your IP address has been blacklisted by one of these services, so enter your IP address in here to check your status. If this happens to you (it happened to us for no apparent reason about 7 years ago!) contact your host about changing the IP address of your website.

8. Check the sender score for your domain and your email marketing service.

Your “sender score” is a measurement of your IP’s reputation. A bad reputation means your emails don’t get delivered. Take these actions to improve a poor sender score.

9. Use a service like Boomerang for Gmail or to send a follow up reminders for important emails.

Don’t just assume that your message is received after it’s sent; schedule a reminder so that you can follow up again if you haven’t heard back. This has saved my bacon many times!

Determining the cause of your email deliverability issues can be tricky. But with more than 80% of inquiries coming in by email these days, it’s absolutely essential for the success of your wedding business.

Got spam trouble? Leave a comment to share your story and what you did to fix it.

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