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Stay Out of the Junk Folder with Litmus: Webinar Recording + Q&A


You work hard to create great emails—and there’s no reason they should end up in the junk folder. And they won’t, if we can help it.

In this webinar, Grace Murray (Account Manager at Litmus) and I talked about why emails land in spam, how Litmus Spam Testing works, and how you can avoid the junk folder with Litmus.

Didn’t make the live webinar? That’s OK. We recorded the whole thing. Watch the recording here and check out the Q&A below.


Thank you to everyone who chimed in during the webinar with a question! Here’s a recap of our answers.

How often should I run a spam test?

Some of our clients run spam tests once a quarter to keep tabs on their programs—but that’s the minimum we’d recommend running a spam test. We actually recommend running them at least every 2 weeks.

Think of it like your credit card statement: Usually, you see what you expect to see. But if something happens and someone swipes your credit card number, you want to find out ASAP so you can cancel your card and get those charges refunded.

In the same way, you want to regularly test your emails against spam filters to ensure everything is working the way it’s supposed to. And, if it isn’t, you can course-correct quickly—without needing external help to fix the damage done.

What’s the difference between the spam test in Previews & QA and running a full spam test?

The spam test in Previews & QA is a trimmed down version of our full spam test. This serves as a quick check on each email. We recommend running the full version every two weeks or so.

Can Litmus Support help me debug my deliverability issues?

Our Support team can help with a lot of things, but they’re not deliverability specialists. When you run a spam test in Litmus, you’ll receive a list of actionable recommendations. We suggest sharing these with the person on your team responsible for your email infrastructure so they can troubleshoot.

Can you talk about purchased lists, how that affects spam, and ways to work around it?

To start, we are very much in Camp Do Not Purchase Lists. In general, these do not convert well and aren’t great for business.

That said, there are times you might do something like run a co-marketing campaign with another company. In that case, you might share lists/leads. If that’s the case, you might try a priming message. The company that captured the leads would basically say, “You’ll be hearing from XYZ company.” This way, people have heard of their brand before you land in their inbox. To use an analogy: Think about the difference between a stranger showing up to your party vs. a friend saying, “Hey, I’m bringing my friend Sheila to your party later.” In the latter instance, you know to be expecting Sheila.

If you are purchasing lists, make sure you’re adhering to CAN-SPAM requirements and consider using a different IP or domain. This will protect your sender reputation from the potential spam complaints.

Do different ESPs have different reputations? Is there a way to check?

This is a nuanced question. It’s not necessarily that ESPs have different reputations (when it comes to deliverability). It’s more that the IPs they use could have a certain reputation. In this blog, we break down the differences between dedicated and shared IPs. If you’re using a shared IP from an ESP, the bad email practices of another business using the same IP could impact your deliverability. ESPs use multiple IPs to support their customers.

What you can do is ask your ESP how they manage their IP reputations and what they do about bad senders negatively impacting those reputations. You want an ESP who cares and is diligent about this. In general, free ESPs are more prone to abuse, leading to a lower sender reputation.

Does the spam test in Litmus help identify what might have flagged an email?

Yes. When you’re viewing your Litmus Spam Test results, you should see what was flagged. When you click to learn more, you’ll see a description of the filter and recommended next steps. For example, if you get flagged for List-Unsubscribe, you’ll see this:

Any recommendations for a member’s association that cannot easily remove unengaged members from our email lists due to contractual obligations?

We clarified on the call: The contractual obligations are member benefits.

In this case, you need to look at promotional or marketing emails separately from transactional emails. If you’re sending an email related to someone’s membership with your association, you can still send that email. That’s what they paid for, and until they stop being a member, they should receive the important communications about your association.

That said, if they’ve unsubscribed from your marketing emails, definitely don’t send them promotional emails for events, membership upgrades, etc. Stick strictly to communications about their account.

And if they’re not engaged, segment them out of frequent communications, same as you would any subscriber list. You can still send these folks transactional communications, but respect their preference to not receive so many emails.

Our emails are all legitimate medical appointment reminders, and we have an unsubscribe link in every message, yet patients still complain to their ISP, flagging the occasional message as spam. The ISPs have no mechanism to dispute this. How do we communicate back to the filters that we’re legitimate?

Yikes. Sorry this is happening. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to keep non-email people from hitting “spam” instead of “delete.” 🤦🏻‍♀️

But as our good friend Mohammed mentioned on the call, if IPs or domains get blocked, you can open a ticket with the concerned ISP. Litmus Spam Testing can help you figure out which ISPs are flagging your emails.

Beyond that, there might be other upstream methods you could use to reduce your emails being marked as spam. For example, at the time the appointment is made (if it’s online), give people the opportunity to opt in/out of email/text reminders. If it’s in person, speak to the appointment team and train them on communicating expectations to patients, including the reminders and what they can do if they don’t want them. Another option is to make the unsubscribe more prominent in the email so they click that instead of the usually-easier-to-find spam button. Hope this helps!