And how to Fix Them

it's not an exact science, but here's 10 ways to avoid spam filters

spam filters are one of the biggest reason for low open rates

Marketing emails going to spam is one of the biggest reasons for low open rates. I’d love to tell you there’s a perfect recipe for getting high open rates on email marketing, but there isn’t. It’s not an exact science. It depends on your platform, list, audience, content, market, and other factors. But they won’t even see your emails if spam filters get in your way.

1. Build Your own list instead of buying one.

Yes, I know that’s the hard way, but it’s the best way. Some purchased lists can be ok (ala homeowner lists that title companies might provide), but they’re never going to be as good as an organically built list of opted-in prospects. Even if the list are up-to-date and scrubbed, the people that you would be emailing don’t know you and have not opted in. Likewise, if you’ve built a list, don’t share it. Don’t use harvesters, either. First, they’re evil and I know you’re not that kind of person. Second, email servers spot it and will kick you to spam faster than you can blink.

2. use double opt-in

I know that some folks don’t love these because they don’t get as many email subscribers.

Think about it, though. Do you want people on your list who don’t want your emails? They’re not going to read them, they aren’t the most likely to do business with you, and they’ll drop your open rates. A great email list is about quality, not quantity. Bonus, it keeps you legal.

3. clean it up regularly

Speaking of quality over quantity, it’s a good idea to scrub your list regularly. Low open and click-through rates can ding your email reputation hard. You don’t want that. If they’re not engaging, clean them out. Email hoarders, don’t freak. I got you, boo. You can export them into a CSV or excel file if deleting them worries you. Just get them out of your primary list. Old leads that have never engaged, people who haven’t opened an email in ages, and emails that have bounced should come out. If you want to try to reengage them, use that dead list as a retargeting audience on ads to see if you can perk them back up. Either way, they shouldn’t be on your main email list.

4. stay on the up & up

I hate spam, and my guess is that you do, too. Staying compliant with email marketing laws isn’t just the right thing to do. It also helps to ensure you don’t end up in the spam folder. I’m not going to dig into what they all are for this post, but the simple way to ensure you are compliant is to not do evil stuff. If you want to do more reading, look into the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CAN-SPAM Act. Getting caught for black hat practices isn’t only not great, but it can be expensive, too. Like $16K expensive. Per email. Seriously, ouch.

5. send good stuff

A unicorn dies every time a real estate agent sends the “It’s Time to Clean Your Gutters” email. Don’t send emails just to send emails. Make sure that your email content is true to your brand personality, is relevant and informative for your audience, looks professional, and is sent with timing in mind. Emails should sound like they came from you and not a bot. Use your brand voice. If your audience is luxury high-end, don’t send first-time buyer tips. I’ll get to email platforms further down, but they make a huge difference in how your emails look. Set up a template with your fonts and colors, use Canva blocks to design brand-consistent images, and don’t rush it. Regarding timing, be consistent and use an email cadence that works for your audience. Don’t flood their inbox, but don’t be a ghost.

6. pay attention to your subject lines

Subject lines can not only make or break your open rate. They can also trigger spam filters or put you in inboxes, and they should never be misleading. Don’t use things like “RE: Your finances” or “urgent” or anything else scary or deceptive to get people to open. It may work once, but it is counterproductive to building a trusted brand.

7. use preview and test modes

Don’t hit that send button just yet when you think your email is ready to send. Good email marketing platforms have preview modes so you can see how your email will look on pc vs. mobile. Check that. They also let you send a test email to yourself to see what it looks like in your inbox. Check that, too. I recommend that you have at least one other person read it and use a platform like Grammarly. Once your email has hit inboxes, it’s too late to fix mistakes.


I know it’s easier to keep one massive list for your property updates, new listing alerts, and newsletters. Doing so can increase your unsubscribes and reduce your engagement rates, though. It’s worth it to split your lists for different types of emails. People who aren’t actively looking for homes typically do not want weekly emails of new listings. Buyer leads who don’t know you may want your listing drip, but not your newsletter. Use different lists for these.

First, it’s good manners to not send emails to people who don’t want them. Second, if the potential buyer who doesn’t want your newsletter unsubscribes, they’ll still get property updates. Likewise, the past client who doesn’t want to see new listings weekly won’t unsubscribe from your master list and will still get your newsletters.

Using separate segments helps keep your stats up while keeping your unsubs and abuse reports down. Good stats help you stay out of spam filters.

9. use the right platform

Wouldn’t it be lovely to use one system for everything? The problem is that while the real estate website CRM you use is great for property updates, most aren’t stellar with newsletters or other marketing emails.  

Don’t get me wrong. There are outstanding real estate website providers that offer both websites and CRMs. They handle emails like property drips beautifully. Though, most don’t do it well when it comes to other email marketing. If you want to do email marketing beyond listing alerts or automated check in’s, use a system built for that. 

Some real estate solutions will synch your contacts with email marketing platforms either natively or through Zapier. If yours doesn’t, the easy workaround is to export your list from your CRM and update it on your marketing platform every few months. It usually takes about 20 minutes, and it’s worth the time. 

Which platform? The best one is the one that you can learn and that you’ll use. MailChimp is by far the most popular, and it’s the one that I recommend to clients most often. It’s easy to use and free up to the point where your list gets larger, or you want to add features. It also has a lot of integrations partners, including Facebook, for running ads. The free MailChimp option is ok, but if you’re doing even monthly newsletters, check out the standard or essential paid plans. Starting out, they’re cost-effective at $10-15 per month, and both give you great tools. Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and others do pretty well, too. 

For those of us who aren’t agents, our email marketing is different. The platforms I mentioned above are still good ones to look at. Personally, I use because I love the workflows, auto-tagging, and integrations.


10. Watch Your Stats

Another benefit of using a platform for your email marketing that’s actually built for it is that it’s easy to keep tabs on your email performance. Keep an eye on your delivery, open, and click-through rates. Track your unsubscribes and spam reports, too. Over time you’ll start seeing which emails work best so you can constantly improve. Bonus, it’s a great way to catch minor problems before they become big ones. If you notice that no one is clicking through, you can change your call to action. If you see that a particular type of email is getting a lot of unsubscribes, stop doing that.