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Stop WooCommerce emails going to spam

How to Stop WooCommerce Emails Going to Spam in 6 Easy Steps

Are your WooCommerce email notifications ending up in spam?

If so, you’re not alone!

WooCommerce notifications landing in the spam folder is a common issue that can be a nightmare for WooCommerce administrators. Not only can it cause your customers to miss important updates about their orders, it can contribute to customer churn and result in negative reviews for your business.

The fact that email deliverability can be a challenging topic to understand doesn’t make this problem any easier to deal with.

But don’t fret.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the most important steps you can take to stop WooCommerce emails going to spam.

But first, let’s look at some of the most common causes.

Reasons why your WooCommerce emails end up in the spam folder

There are many potential causes of WooCommerce emails going to spam. Often, it’s an issue that requires a holistic approach to solve. Here are some of the most important/common causes:

Reputation and authentication issues

  • Poor email reputation caused by your domain or IP being associated with spam in the past
  • Email security frameworks have not been set up or aren’t configured correctly

Content and formatting

  • Spammy content, like overuse of sales language and using terms commonly associated with spam (“porn,” “casino,” “Viagra,” etc.)
  • Incorrect email formatting, including poorly structured HTML and inconsistent font use
  • The use of too many images or links in your emails
  • Adding potentially risky attachments to emails

Sending practices

  • Inconsistent sending patterns, like sudden increases in the number of emails sent
  • Shared hosting issues caused by other users using the service to send spam emails

Engagement and compliance

  • Many recipients marking your emails as spam
  • Low engagement rates, including poor open rates
  • Failing to provide an easy opt-out option
  • Unclear ‘from’ name/missing sender information

Step 1: Check if your emails are sending and if they’re actually being flagged by spam filters

Before making changes to your current WooCommerce email setup, it’s important to check whether your emails are being sent correctly and if they are actually going to spam.

You can do this by using test accounts in 3 easy steps.

Tip: If you suspect your email/DNS setup is the cause of your emails going to spam, you can use a tool like MxToolbox to test/fix this problem. Doing so could save you some time in the long run.

  • Create some test accounts on your WooCommerce site using different email providers like Outlook, Yahoo, and Gmail
  • Place some test orders using these test accounts
  • You can then log into the accounts at the different email providers to see if the emails are visible and in what folder they land

This will allow you to check if the emails are sending correctly and check how email deliverability is across a few different providers. If they’re ending up in the spam folders, the steps in this guide should help improve it.

Email logging plugins

As an additional step, you can download a logging plugin like WP Activity Log to help you verify that emails are actually being sent. These plugins make a record of all actions taken on your WordPress site, including sent emails, allowing you to verify that emails are sent correctly.

WP Activity Log has both a free and paid version for you to choose from – both of which work well for this purpose.

Step 2: Optimize WooCommerce email setup

Your WooCommerce email setup is the first thing you should check before making any other changes. An issue with your email settings is a common cause of WooCommerce emails going to spam It’s also one of the easiest things to fix.

Check email sender options

First, check your email sender options to ensure the “From” name and “From” address are correct.

You can find them by going to Dashboard > WooCommerce > Settings and then clicking on Emails.

Check email sender options

Then, scroll down to the email sender options.

Email sender

The “From” name is the name that people see as the sender – so the person/organization that sent the email. In most cases, you want the “From” name to consist of the shortest version of your company’s name without additional characters, numbers, or symbols.

The “From” address is the email address that the email is sent from. Make sure the email looks professional and doesn’t use special characters, numbers, or other unconventional symbols. The ideal format is [name]@[domain].com, with both the name and domain being short and accurate.

Secondly, it’s important to check if the from email address actually exists and can receive emails or that it’s a noreply email address with an autoresponder set up. This is to ensure that any replies that might be sent to this email are, at the very least, handled gracefully.

Summary of the best practices for from name/address

  • Avoid unnecessary additional characters, special symbols or numbers
  • Use recognizable names/email addresses
  • Maintain consistency in your from name(s)/email(s) across your broader email communication
  • Make sure the from address is monitored and any emails sent to this address in reply are handled gracefully

Check individual notification emails

Next, check the individual notification email settings one by one. Pay close attention to those you know are ending up in the spam folder.

Check individual notification emails

Again, check if the emails selected are active and that the subject/heading of the emails that are automatically being sent to customers look professional.

Add CAPTCHA to your forms

Emails going to spam is often caused by poor engagement rates and high bounce rates. If spammers can create accounts using bots or place spam orders, you could be sending hundreds or even thousands of emails out to non-existent email addresses.

A CAPTCHA plugin like CAPTCHA 4 WP can help solve this issue.

It not only offers full WooCommerce integrations with just a few clicks, but it also provides you with a range of CAPTCHA options to choose from, including reCAPTCHA v2 and v3, hCAPTCHA, and Cloudflare Turnstile.[bv1] We have a guide on our site that shows you how to add CAPTCHA to WooCommerce forms that you can follow to add CAPTCHA to your WooCommerce forms.

Step 3: Review your email content and formatting

Your email content and formatting are some of the things that spam filters look at to determine whether an email should be flagged as spam. This happens both on the recipient’s mail server and in email clients. Simple mistakes in your content/formatting can therefore cause your WooCommerce emails to go to spam.

When reading the considerations mentioned below, it’s important to remember that spam filters take all of these things into account. So, you don’t have to be perfect – it’s just a matter of the email being good enough to not be flagged as spam.

Avoid spam trigger words/promotional language

Spam trigger words are words like “porn”, “guest post”, “Viagra” and “lottery” which are commonly used in spam messages. In general, it’s best to avoid these terms altogether. However, if you absolutely must use one of them, it’s important to do it in a natural way to avoid the email content being flagged as spam.

The same goes for overly promotional language using terms like “buy now”, “invest today’ or “click here to sign up”. Although many real emails contain a call to action, it’s important that you don’t go overboard or use too pushy language. 

Balance the image-to-text ratio & avoid unnecessary attachments

Using too many or too large images can trigger spam filters. In general, it’s best to stick to at least 60% text in an email. It’s also a good idea to ensure the emails can be understood using screen readers. You can achieve this by ensuring all important information is added in text and not “hidden” inside of images.

It’s also best to avoid any unnecessary attachments when possible. Furthermore, stick to trusted file formats when you do add attachments like invoices.

Email is one of the most common channels through which bad actors spread malware. This often happens by getting readers to click malicious links.

The people who develop spam filters are well aware of this fact. This is why links are such an important element to keep in mind when trying to avoid spam filters.

Ensure that all links you include in your email are to trusted websites, and make sure they’re using HTTPs. Also, keep the number of links in the email to a reasonable number based on the amount of text in the email body.

Lastly, try and keep links as clean as possible and avoid using conflicting anchor text. A common way of enticing people to click on malicious links is by using a URL of a trusted website as the anchor text but actually linking to a malicious website.

Adding your physical address or at least a physical postal address to your email footer is generally considered best practice and is actually mandated by anti-spam regulations in various countries. This includes the US, with the CAN-SPAM Act clearly requiring you to tell recipients where you’re located.

By being transparent about who the sender is, you also signal that there’s a real company/individual behind the email, making it less likely to be flagged by a spam filter.

Ensure HTML emails are well-formatted and mobile-friendly

Ensuring your emails are well formatted and mobile-friendly is a general best practice, but it’s also important if you want to avoid your emails being flagged as spam. Things like excessive use of CSS or HTML can cause an email to be flagged as spam, but there are also indirect effects.

For example, emails with poor usability will get poor engagement rates and have a higher likelihood of being marked as spam by the user. Since these metrics are used by spam filters, this can worsen the issue.

Include clear unsubscribe options

There’s nothing worse than receiving countless newsletters and notifications from companies without the option to unsubscribe. This isn’t just common decency and very important for not being flagged by a spam filter, it’s also required by law in most countries.

Regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act in the US and the GDPR in the EU require you to add clear unsubscribe options to your emails to ensure people can opt-out at any time. These should be easy to follow, like clicking a link or replying to the email with a certain word/phrase. Requests need to be honored promptly too, often within a matter of days or weeks. 

Want to learn more about compliance for WooCommerce? – Check out our GDPR compliance guide for WordPress and WooCommerce.

Other

Although some factors taken into account by spam filters are well-known, there are many that are unknown. Spam filters are tuned using many examples of spam and real emails as training data. So, the rule of thumb is to ensure your emails look as much like the real emails and as little like the spam emails as possible.

Step 4: Use an email delivery service/Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is the standard protocol used for sending emails. By default, a WordPress website uses PHP to send emails, which can lead to deliverability issues as emails are commonly blocked by web hosts. SMTP servers provide better authentication and improved reliability, which reduces the likelihood of emails being marked as spam.

Although there are some SMTP plugins that can be used to connect to a custom SMTP server, using an email delivery service is generally considered the easier option.

A good email delivery service can ensure your emails are sent over SMTP servers. They also help to improve email deliverability and help you optimize your email campaigns. Professional sending services often offer more analytics and better features than WooCommerce’s built-in option too.

It can be worth picking an email delivery service that has an integration plugin for WooCommerce to make it as easy as possible to implement. Some examples are Brevo and SendGrid, but there are many others to choose from.

After installing, activating, and configuring the plugin, make sure to test it thoroughly to ensure it’s functioning correctly. Most plugins have a test email feature, which allows you to test if everything is set up correctly.

Step 5: Clean & segment your email list

Email list maintenance is an important part of maintaining good email deliverability. By ensuring that emails are only sent to the correct email addresses and clearly informing your users that they should expect your emails, you can improve engagement rates and prevent users marking your emails as spam.

Use a secure opt-in process

A clear opt-in process will help ensure you only add correct emails to your email list. Ideally, your opt-in process should consist of multiple steps, where the user confirms that they entered the correct email address.\

This is called a double opt-in.\

The best way of doing this is by using a signup confirmation email. This is an email sent to the email address the user entered, prompting them to click a link to confirm their sign up.

This does two things.

  1. It ensures you have the correct email address and that email address is active
  2. It ensures that the user knows they subscribed and expect your emails

Regularly remove inactive subscribers and invalid email addresses

Engagement and bounce rates play important roles in spam filtering, so regularly pruning your email list(s) by removing inactive subscribers and invalid email addresses can prevent your emails from hitting the spam folder.

Bounced emails are particularly important, and you should have processes in place to quickly and efficiently remove email addresses where previous emails have bounced. Sending many bounced emails/emails to invalid addresses can result in all your emails ending up in the spam folder. It can even cause you to get blocked by your email service provider.

Segment your list(s)

Segmenting your lists allows you to only send relevant emails to each group. By allowing your email subscribers to opt-out/in to certain types of emails, you can improve your engagement rates.

For example, by giving your users a separate choice to subscribe to marketing emails, you ensure that your users only receive the emails they actually want. This can improve engagement rates and greatly improve deliverability.

Step 6: Engage subscribers

As a last step, it’s important to engage your subscribers as much as possible to keep your email metrics as healthy as possible.

Encourage subscribers to whitelist your emails

The first and perhaps most effective method is to encourage your subscribers to whitelist your emails. This can be especially effective if you’re already dealing with email deliverability issues. More people marking your emails as “not spam” signals that your emails are not spam to email service providers.

Personalization

Personalization can help to engage subscribers and improve the customer experience. Although this is becoming less effective as more companies do it, studies show that 96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance, and 82% of marketers reported an increase in open rates through email personalization.

Testing and optimization

Continuously testing and optimizing your email subject lines and content helps improve your email metrics and engage users. As your open rates and other metrics improve, the chances of your emails ending up in spam decrease.

Emails still going to spam?

If you’ve followed the above steps and are still experiencing issues with your WooCommerce emails going to spam, it can be worth revisiting the steps to ensure you didn’t miss anything.

However, if the problem persists, it may be beneficial to consult with an email deliverability expert. They can provide a more in-depth analysis and offer customized solutions tailored to your specific situation. Remember, email deliverability can be complex. Working with an expert can speed up the process and get you better results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my outgoing emails going to spam?

There are a number of reasons why your outgoing emails could be going to spam. These include a poor sender reputation, emails containing spammy terms or poor email engagement rates. When diagnosing deliverability issues, it’s important to look at every potential cause to ensure your emails have the best possible deliverability rate.

What are common spam triggers in email content?

There are many in-content spam triggers and these aren’t all made publicly available. However, some of the most common ones include the use of spammy keywords/terms, poor email formatting, a high image-text ratio or unnecessary attachments.

How often should I clean my email list?

Cleaning your email list once per month is reasonable, assuming you have the right processes in place. Things like two-step verification can help prevent any misspelled or otherwise unusable email addresses from getting on your list in the first place, which is even more effective.

Can using a shared hosting service affect my WooCommerce email deliverability?

Yes – using a shared hosting service can affect your WooCommerce email deliverability. This is because other accounts on the same shared hosting service share your IP address, which can lead to emails from this IP address getting a higher spam score and being marked as spam.
 
Most web hosts monitor for this behavior and actively work to maintain their hosting server’s IP address reputation.

How can I encourage customers to whitelist my WooCommerce emails?

There are a number of steps you can take to encourage your customers to whitelist your WooCommerce emails.
–       Add a note on your webpage that briefly explains that your emails sometimes go to spam and that it can be helpful to them if they whitelist your emails.
–       Add a note to your welcome email explaining that your emails can be whitelisted and asking them to do so.
–       Make it as easy as possible for them by providing them with step-by-step instructions on how to whitelist your emails.

Posted inWordPress Management
Bram Vergouwen
Bram Vergouwen

Bram is a freelance copywriter and (technical) SEO with experience in various web development technologies, including WordPress. When he’s not writing content or working on websites, you’ll find Bram enjoying time in nature or meeting up with friends. You can reach Bram at bram@melapress.com


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