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When Junk Email Isn't Junk

Posted in Email Marketing

When Junk Email Isn't Junk

Have you noticed a steep decline in your email open rate lately? Since April 2019 to be specific? You are not alone. 

About two months ago I noticed a change in emails coming in to my inbox - email subscriptions I have had for years were suddenly going to my junk/spam folder. And, I started hearing from my clients and subscribers my emails were now going to their junk/spam folders as well. 

Since I know I didn't change any of my settings or the type / style of my subject lines or content, I wondered why. Some of the email newsletters I receive are from clients of mine -- I have either helped them setup their email system, or I create their campaigns for them. These too are now suddenly landing in my junk/spam folder. Again, I know content, subject lines etc are all similar to what they have been doing in the past..

Often when this happens, it is with one specific email marketing service - settings change, etc. In this case however, it seems to apply regardless of the system.  As you know, I am a Certified Constant Contact Solution provider, but I also work with Infusionsoft (or Keap as it is now called), Mailchimp (only when I absolutely have to because that is what my client uses), Zoho Campaigns, vbout and many more... Emails landing in the junk/spam folders seems to be across the board... 

I'm not alone - my fellow Constant Contact solution providers have been experiencing the same.

So what changed?

MICROSOFT BLOG ARTICLE TAG COMPUTER SERVICESThis week, I received information from my IT guy, Tom McIntyre at TAG Computer Services -- Tom looks after the health and security of my computer systems and is also my Microsoft Office 365 manager -- basically stating

"Microsoft Says Office 365 Users Should Use Spam Filter"  - you can read the whole article here 

So changes made at Microsoft explains some of the reasons. Marketers are finally getting their recipients using gmail to understand the 'promotions folder' and now we have to educate Office 365 users as well. And in Outlook you have the Focused Inbox and the Other Folder (this just recently appeared again, it disappeared for awhile). So now, the important messages are in the Inbox, the newsletter type messages are in the 'other' folder, or in the junk/spam folder...

Do You Check Your Junk/Spam Folder?

I am always amazed how many people I run across who do not check their junk/spam folder.. If you are not in the habit of checking it regularly, I'm sure you will be shocked at how many important or 'wanted' email messages are in there.

I check my spam/junk folder as often as I check my Inbox. There isn't a day that goes by I haven't had to move wanted email messages back into my inbox.  Oh - and just so you know -- microsoft learns from this and stops sending those messages to spam. 

Know the Email Marketing Rules:

If you are using an email marketing service such as Constant Contact, it makes it easier for your emails to get through to your email list, but there are many best practices to be followed:
  • Ensure you follow the rules set out in the Can-Spam Act in the United States and CASL in Canada. There are specific items you must have: identifiable from name/address, physical address, an unsubscribe button/link and permission to send -- this is overly simplified, read the spam legislation to be sure.
  • Make sure your subject lines are not deceptive - even something as simple as sticking RE: or FWD: in your subject line can mark your email as deceptive
  • Avoid 'spam' trigger words  -- winner, free, complimentary, guarantee, risk-free, special, offer, bonus, even amazing makes the list...
  • Ensure there is more text than images in your campaign. Yes a picture is worth 1000 words, but it can't say everything you need to say - not only that -- many people do not have images set to automatically download on their smartphones - thus they may not see your image, but they will be able to see the text... 
  • Avoid sending from email addresses such as noreply@ try support@ newsletter@ if you are not using your personal email - which should be based on your domain, ie. support@yourdomain.com, not companyname@gmail.com or hotmail or live.
  • Segment your lists - do you really need to send your campaign to everyone in your list when only a percentage will be interested in the information being provided.
  • Stay regular with your messages. If you send a campaigns 4 times / year, your subscribers may forget about you - once a month is an absolute minimum, I prefer weekly - but that is a big ask when you get busy with your business -- even I fail at this one... Although I try!
  • Ask your recipients to add your email to their contacts - this works wonders!

What else can you do?

My big thing is knowing what your subscribers are doing with the information you send out.  When you send a campaign to you look at just the open rate and click through rate or do you dive deeper? Do you send a second campaign to those who do not open the original campaign a few days after the first (note - myself and my clients have seen open rates jump from 18-28% to 32-45% by doing this one simple step). Most providers offer this option today - with Constant Contact, it is setup when you schedule the original campaign.. A truly awesome feature!

But going back to diving deeper -- do you?

When I analyze a campaign - I not only look at the open rate and click through rate, I also look at unique opens vs alls opens, the time of day my subscribers open, the time they click a link, how often and how often they continue to open emails (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months later etc).  I also keep a list of subject lines and the links in each campaign to know which subject lines work, which do not, which links are clicked and which are not.  This information offers you great insight on how to better your campaigns. By knowing and understanding what type of information your subscriber is interested in, when they are most likely to open the campaign and more, you can build stronger, more purposeful and results-driven campaigns. 

After all, you are producing these campaigns to educate, inform and drive sales right?


Debi Katsmar, is a Certified Email Marketing Specialist and  Constant Contact Certified Solution Provider working with businesses throughout Canada and the United States to better their email marketing SERVICES campaigns to drive results. If you're looking to increase your email open rates and email click through rates, check out Prowl Communications' email marketing audit. You will gain valuable insight into your audience, know what content to send, what email subject lines will work and receive better results in your future campaigns.

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