Troubleshooting tips for transactional email spam folder placement

Sending transactional email is a great way to establish and maintain communication with your customers. However, sometimes transactional email is filtered into the spam folder or blocked by a mailbox provider. It is frustrating when this happens since most transactional email is sent to a subscriber based on an interaction they had with your company such as a product purchase or password reset request.

An important insight about mailbox providers to understand is that they look at your IP address and domain sending reputation to determine filtering decisions regardless if the email is transactional or promotional. So if you have a poor IP address or domain sending reputation, it will likely lead to filtered or blocked email.

As with all email, following transactional email best practices will help improve your chances of reaching the inbox.

Common types of transactional email

  • Receipts, order confirmations, shipping confirmations, password resets, legal notifications, policy updates, registration confirmation, abandoned shopping cart, re-engagement

Potential causes for transactional email spam folder placement

  • Causes of transactional email spam folder placement vary and often relates to a lack of proper disclosure and setting the right expectations with the subscriber about the content and frequency of the email they will receive.
  • Transactional email is sometimes affected by bulk marketing email when sent using the same IP address or domain. If the marketing email stream or campaign is encountering excessive complaints or hitting spam traps, then a mailbox provider may start placing all email, including transactional email, into the spam folder as a precaution.
  • Transactional email may be sent containing text only, non-branded email templates, which look like spam. If a subscriber doesn’t recognize the sender, they will often mark the email as spam.

Troubleshooting tips

  • Investigate if the transactional spam folder placement occurs at or around the same time you send your marketing emails. It may indicate that your marketing emails are affecting the deliverability of your transactional email.
  • Look for general patterns around the date and time of the spam folder placement. For example, does it occur every Friday or in the evening? Keep in mind that time zones are a factor if you send internationally.
  • Determine if a specific IP address or domain is involved.
  • Determine the scope of the problem so you can focus on the resolution. For example, is the spam folder placement taking place at one mailbox provider or multiple mailbox providers? Filtering at only one mailbox provider can help you pinpoint a potential cause. Filtering at multiple mailbox providers may indicate a broader sending reputation issue.
  • Find out if you send email for multiple business units or multiple brands. Does the spam folder placement involve one business unit or brand or all business units and brands?
  • Take inventory of all of the different types of transactional messages sent. Is there a specific type of transactional message involved? For example, birthday emails or abandoned shopping cart emails.
  • Investigate the activity levels of the subscribers receiving the transactional email. Is the transactional message being sent to subscribers that are no longer engaging with your company or email program?
  • Investigate if the transactional message relates to a specific list segment such as a prospect or current customer.
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