Email Marketing

How do I send bulk emails without spamming?

Bulk emails are often considered spammy. But eCommerce stores need to send it anyway to get more sales. Here are some bulk email best practices to keep in mind.

How do I send bulk emails without spamming?

Fact—Large scale organizations in the US can get a 4300% ROI from bulk email marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, this is not achievable for majority of eCommerce brands as they are casual in their approach, lack knowledge of best practices, and are completely unaware of international laws that govern user privacy.

After working with businesses that still struggle withe bulk emails, we decided to create a blog that addresses the problem head on.

We'll be covering:

7 possible reasons why your emails are going to spam

How to send bulk emails without spamming

Technical factors to consider while sending bulk emails

7 possible reasons why your emails are going to spam

Your plans of doing email marketing without spamming is not a reality thanks to any or all of the reasons:

1. You probably didn’t ask for their permission

If you didn’t ask your recipient for permission before adding them to your email list, they may be unpleasantly surprised when they see your newsletter in their inbox. The next logical step for them might be marking your email as spam.

Most businesses provide a spot for consumers to sign up for emails at the bottom of their website, and they make their request explicit.

Take Macy’s for example:

Sign Up

Macy’s makes it clear that when customers click “Get Started.” They’re signing up to receive emails from the leading department store giant. This prevents customers from being surprised by these emails in their inbox.

2. Your emails could be outdated

Sometimes your email list will have addresses from people who haven’t opened one of your emails in ages. If you continue to send them emails, they may eventually get fed up and mark your emails as spam instead of unsubscribing.

When you have email subscribers who haven’t opened your emails recently, take a page from Fandango’s book and reach out to them one last time:

Email Title

Crowd Content also makes it easy for people to unsubscribe if they haven’t opened up one of the business’ emails for a while.

This way if they still don’t engage with your emails, you can remove them from your list and decrease the risk that they will mark your email as spam.

3. You could be sending “spam-like” emails

Your bulk emails may not be spam, but if they look spam-ish, they might be marked as spam anyway.

Using words like “free” and “money” and “claim” will be red flags for spam filters as well as the subscribers on your email list.

Take a look at this subject line from the Wichita Eagle, for example:

Spam words

Try resources like Spam Assassin to make sure that your emails do not seem like spam.

Spam Assassin, and similar resources, will search an email and assign it a score based on how many spam-like features the email contains. If you test your email and your score is high, chances are that spam filters and subscribers have been flagging or blocking your emails.

4. Is unsubscribing a little difficult?

While it might seem counterintuitive to provide an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list, it will help improve your reputability.

It is far better for your subscribers to unsubscribe from your email list than it is for them to mark your emails as spam, so you should make this as easy as possible.

5. Is your list borrowed?

If your email list is full of addresses that you borrowed or bought, you are risking damaging your reputation, having your emails marked as spam, and even getting blacklisted by reputable email service providers like Gmail. If your email list is not full of organic subscribers, your emails will likely be considered spam or your IP address may even be blacklisted.

6. Too many emails?

Whether you are sending high-quality emails that are thoughtfully crafted or you are over-relying on autoresponder emails, if you send your subscribers a barrage of emails, they will feel like they are being spammed.

7. Not relevant (happens more often than we’d like)

Even if someone eagerly signed up for your emails, they can change their mind and flag your emails as spam if your emails are not relevant.

Are you underdelivering on the promise you made to your email subscribers when they first signed up?

If so, your emails might be moved to the dreaded spam folder of their inbox.

How to send bulk emails without spamming

Looking for ways to send bulk emails without spamming? We got you covered:

1. Cover your bases with the double opt-in method

25% off your entire store might be enticing enough for you to gather a few email addresses, but it might not be enough to save your emails from the spam folder.

Sometimes people choose to opt-in to your email newsletter just to receive a discount or some other immediate perk. They have no intention of ever reading the content that you plan to send out to your email subscribers.

Using the double opt-in method can help you ensure that the people who sign up for your emails actually want to receive them. This way you reduce the risk of annoying your readers or being marked as spam.

Simply send them an email asking them to confirm whether or not they truly want to subscribe to your email list and you will save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.

Look at the NWSL Shop for example:


2. Avoid “spam-ish” words

Some words will not only trigger spam filters, but they will also present red flags to your email subscribers.

Avoid using these spam-like words and phrases in your bulk email subject lines:

  • Free
  • Money
  • No catch
  • Take action now
  • Claim
  • Offer
  • Incredible deal
  • Shopping spree
  • Urgent
  • Winner
  • Risk-free
  • Call now
  • Instant
  • Click here
  • This isn’t spam
  • Please read
  • You’ve won
  • Giveaway
  • Guarantee

Most email recipients who see these words will automatically mark the email as spam without a second thought.

3. Be transparent

Being honest will take you closer to your customers.

If you set clear expectations from the beginning, your email subscribers won’t feel deceived later on. Let readers know exactly what they should expect when they opt-in to your emails so they can decide whether or not they really want to subscribe.

Are you going to send them news and current events surrounding your industry?

Follow Button Poetry’s lead and let subscribers know:


Are you going to send coupon codes and discounts?

Learn from Hot Topic and share this information with your subscribers:


Consumers value businesses they can trust.

Providing full disclosure about what your subscribers should expect from your emails is a step toward building trust and avoiding the spam folder.

4. Use personalization

If you want to prevent your emails from resembling bulk emails or spam, use personalization:


  • Recommend products based on your subscriber's personal preferences or previous shopping habits, like Michael’s:
Banner Example

When customers feel like your emails are specifically targeted toward them instead of a bulk email, they will be far more likely to open the email and far less likely to consider it a spam email.

5. Remember email segmentation is your friend

If your email subject line talks about the perfect warm weather for tackling the snow, your readers in warmer states will not be interested and they might feel like your emails are not worthwhile.

Segment your email lists so that your content is always relevant for your readers. This way, even if they are not interested, they will not mark it as spam.

Groupon does this well, using location among other factors to send specific experiences and recommend deals to their subscribers:

Location-based email

Here are some tips to help you in segmenting your emails better:

  • Segment your email list base on demographics—analyse which age group has the highest open rate and CTR
  • Use behavioral segmentation—subscribers who viewed or purchased more, cart recovery email click to open rates, browse abandonment conversion rates, etc
  • Try Location-based segmentation—Identify which region or area has the the highest open rate and click through rate
  • Look at loyal customers—Find out which customers have been your patrons over a specific time frame and their AOV

You'd also love reading: Browse Abandonment Emails: Epic Examples, Tips, & Subject Lines

6. Add value!

Put as much effort into your emails as you put into everything else you create for your business.

When it comes to crafting emails, keep REV in mind:

  • Relevance
  • Engagement
  • Value

When your emails are relevant, engaging, and valuable, your open rate will increase and fewer people will mark your emails as spam.

Think about the emails you would typically mark as spam. They’re usually uninteresting, boring, irrelevant, or pushy.

Make sure that the bulk emails you create don’t share these attributes!

7. Stand out

If your email subscribers are seeing the same type of content from the other businesses where they receive emails, your content won’t stand out, and they might think they are being spammed.

Do everything you can to make sure your email stands out in your subscribers’ inboxes:

Emoji in email

Email Title
Personalized Title

Taking the time to make your emails unique will pay off when your open rate increases and your brand’s reputation improves.

8. Use strong subject lines

According to HubSpot, 69% of email users report email as spam solely based on the subject line.

It’s important to write subject lines that aren’t clickbait and to write emails that deliver what the subject line promises.

Here are a few ways you can write compelling subject lines:

  • Conduct keyword research to see which words perform well with your target audience
  • Make it personal!
  • Keep it simple, short, and sweet
  • Let readers know what’s inside your email
  • Use actionable verbs
  • Avoid using all-caps
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor
  • Create a sense of urgency and importance

An email with the subject line “Hannah, cozy up to our Holiday Gift Guide,” for example, is warm, personal, and lets the subscriber know exactly what she is going to see when she opens the email as opposed to an email that has the subject line “Thank you” or “The holidays are approaching.”

9. Make unsubscribing a breeze

If your readers have to jump through hoops to unsubscribe from your email list, they might opt to mark your emails as spam instead.

This can be detrimental to your business. The more frequently your emails are marked as spam, the less reputable your brand will become. Eventually, your emails might start being blacklisted by Hotmail, Gmail, and other fs.

Make it simple for subscribers to opt-out of your marketing emails, like in the samples below.

Easy Unsubscribing

Easy Unsubscribing

With easy steps like these, any email subscribers that do not want to receive your emails anymore can just click a link to unsubscribe rather than choosing to flag your emails as spam.

10. Avoid links and attachments

Instead of using links, which spammers often use to mislead readers, use a clear call-to-action button.

Take BarkBox, for example, which includes strong call-to-action buttons in their emails:

Call To Action

Instead of clicking a link to shop for cold weather MLS gear, shoppers can click on the button, which will not only make it easier for them to convert, but it will also prevent the email from being flagged by spam filters.

Rather than sending an attachment to an e-book or a shopping guide or using a link to promote your products, include a call-to-action button that sends them to a website presenting this information.

11. Don’t be afraid to send plain-text emails

While HTML emails might be easier to create, many spam filters and organizations like to see plain-text versions of these emails, too.

Plain-text emails are less likely to be spam, so they can easily pass through spam filters, unlike HTML emails which are flagged rather frequently.

When you work with an email marketing company, they can help you create plain-text emails that will bypass most spam filters and encourage subscribers to read them.

Because plain-text emails do not use images and other HTML features, you will need to make sure your content is especially compelling.

Take Red Lobster and Adidas for example:

12. Clean your subscriber lists

If you have inactive users or duplicate contacts on your email list, it will be bad for your open rate and your brand’s reputation.

Take some time to clean your subscriber lists:

  • Check for typos like email addresses ending in
  • Delete duplicate contacts
  • Scrub addresses that haven’t opened your emails in years

This will help your email marketing campaigns run more successfully and prevent people who never open your emails from deciding to mark them as spam.

13. Monitor your engagement

Along the same lines, it is important to monitor your engagement and stay abreast of your key analytics so that you can see whether or not you need to make changes to your email marketing strategy.

Check for low open rates and high unsubscribe rates.

Have low open rates?

Try strengthening your subject lines, stepping up your content, and incorporating personalization. Write the email that you would want to open!

Struggling with high unsubscribe rates?

Make sure your emails match expectations, don’t use clickbait titles, and ensure everyone who subscribes double opts in.

If you stay on top of these metrics, you can help ensure that your sender reputation stays in a good place and prevent people from sending your emails to spam.

14. Work on GDPR compliance

If you haven't worked on making your email compliant, you'll have to pay 20 million euros in fines. Here's how you can avoid that:

Use a trustworthy service provider: Using a trustworthy service provider makes collecting consent easy. It helps you create a consent form, supports double opt-in, differentiates between marketing emails and transactional emails.

Write a descriptive privacy policy: List the data you collect and how you plan to use it. Explain the types of data you collect plus the data collected with consent and by website cookies.

Clean your email lists: Clean your email lists every 3-6 months. This keeps you off the spam list and improves your email delivery rate.

Honor unsubscribe requests: Honor unsubscribe requests within 30 days. This helps you keep your sender reputation clean.

While these aren't the only GDPR compliant best practices, it'll help you get started on the right note.

Technical factors to consider while sending bulk emails

While good content forms the soul of a email, there are factors that play an important role behind the scenes:

SPF: Sender Policy Framework is an email authentication method that prevents spammers from sending emails on your behalf aka spoofing. It recognizes only the domains and servers authorized to send emails from your domain.

DKIM: Domain Keys Identified Mail is another email authentication method that lets the receiver of an email that this email was approved by the sender using a digital DKIM signature.

DMARC: DMARC helps validate the email sent from an organization's domain is genuine and prevents hackers from spoofing the domain.

How to track the spam level of your emails?

You can check the spam level of your bulk emails using:

a. Spam checker: Spam checkers test your bulk emails for valid email address, factors like DKIM/DKIF and SPF scores. Next, they authenticate your server. The SPF checks your email spoofing. The final tests involve verifying your DKIM signature. and the DMARC tests.

b. Run a content check: Use a spam checker tool that helps you helps correct spammy words by flagging words based on urgency, overpromise, unnatural, and shady.

c. Spam rate: Calculate your spam rate using the formula, Spam Rate = No. of spam emails/Total emails sent*100. You'll have to analyse your open rates and click-through rates. For instance, if your open rates are high but your CTR is low, it means your content is not engaging.

Transform Email Marketing Into A Revenue Machine

Most eCommerce store owners don’t see bulk emails as a serious revenue stream.

Ask them about the importance of bulk email marketing, and you'll hear: “we don’t really have a major strategy,” “we mostly use generic templates,” or “we just send emails to people on our list.”


There are stores out there that drive 30%+ of their revenue from bulk emails alone.

Engage can help you do the same - Book a free demo.

We’ll show you:

  • workflows we can create for your store,
  • proven ways to drive 30% or more $$ from email alone, and
  • successful templates and strategies from your industry (and others).

More resources on email marketing:

The Right Way to Calculate Email Marketing ROI in eCommerce

How to Use Targeted Email Marketing to Drive More Sales (eCommerce)

25 Ways to Grow Your Email Click Through Rate Quickly (eCommerce)

How often should eCommerce stores send marketing emails?

21 Tips to Increase Sales Through Email Marketing (+ Amazing Examples)

Conversion rate optimization
Free Guide 👉 👉

The "Get Out of the Spam Folder" Checklist