Keep your emails out of the spam folder: 6 tips for real estate agents

The “Spam” folder, sometimes called the Junk Email folder, is often useful for filtering out unwanted emails. However, we all dread knowing that our own messages may end up in it.  

So how do we prevent our emails from landing there? We’ll break down the reasons emails get sent to the Spam folder and give you valuable tips to maximize your inbox delivery.  

First things first, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way: 

Delivery vs. Deliverability 

Email delivery is as simple as: Does the recipient’s email address actually exist, and can it receive messages? If the answers to these questions are “Yes”, then you’ve got email delivery!  

Deliverability is taking it a step further: once the email is delivered, in which folder is it going to land? This is the key component that we focus on when we talk about staying out of the Spam folder. 

Sender Reputation 

Email providers use sender reputation to help assess the risk potential of incoming messages and to filter out spam. To determine sender reputation, email providers use algorithms to evaluate criteria such as sending volume trends and recipient engagement (opens, clicks, complaint rate, etc.) to assign a score (rating) to each IP address that sends emails. The better the score assigned to the sender IP address, the more likely messages from it will get into the recipient’s inbox. 

Now you may have just caught onto something here… Sender reputation scores are by IP address. This means that sender reputation scores are domain-wide, as a domain represents an IP address in a way that humans can easily remember. As such, everyone on your domain shares a sending reputation.  

Your emails likely use a domain that is your brokerage’s domain. For example: if your email address is kellyagent @, the domain is “”. This means that your sending behavior impacts everyone else sending emails from an email address and vice versa. This should be something to consider when you start to think strategically about your sending reputation. 

If you want to ensure you’re maximizing your chances of ending up in the primary inbox or have noticed that sometimes your emails land in spam, use the following tips: 

Tip #1: Segment Your Contacts 

The best service you can do for yourself and for your contacts is to segment your database and email lists! If you’re managing your contacts within a CRM, use tags (keywords) and audiences (groups). This helps you make sure you’re sending relevant content to the right people.  

First-time home buyers should receive content relevant to their needs, whereas vacation home buyers should get different content that fits their needs, and so on. Your contacts will resonate with relevant content and will be more likely to engage with your emails.  

In turn, this not only helps your deliverability (due to the higher numbers of opens and clicks), but it also helps your business. The better aligned you are with your contacts’ needs, the more likely they will go from being your contact to your client. 

Learn how to create groups of contacts in your Engage CRM. 

Tip #2: Write Good Subject Lines 

Good news: this one is straightforward. There are a handful of words that are more likely to cause your email to be flagged as spam, some of which are: “free,” “earn,” “opportunity,” “cash,” and “refinance”. These words are especially important to avoid in subject lines when sending marketing emails.  

Subject line formatting can also trigger spam filters. Excessive capitalization and punctuation are more likely to be flagged. If you ever feel the need to include three exclamation points, resist the urge! One will do the trick. 

Tip #3: Maintain a Good Text to Image Ratio 

Avoid putting all your messaging into images. While this can give a custom look and feel to emails, spam filters don’t analyze what images depict. If you upload a lot of graphics into your emails, be sure you’re still including some text-filled sections as well to break them up.  

When most of your email content is made up of images, you are putting yourself at risk for spam filtering. 

Tip #4: Avoid Purchased Lists 

Purchased lists are often re-sold, meaning that they may have been spammed anywhere from hundreds to thousands of times. This puts an immediate marketing barrier between you and your recipient. The quality of these lists tends to be very low as well. 

Purchased lists may contain fake email addresses, or be outdated/ inaccurate, which results in poor delivery rates. This will negatively impact your sender’s reputation and can get you in trouble with the company that provides your email marketing software.  

Purchased lists can also contain email addresses that are spam traps – emails that don’t belong to anyone and have the primary task of catching spammers and senders with poor list hygiene practices.  

Purchased lists are also not compliant with laws and regulations in many countries. For example, emails sent to recipients who live in Europe must be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, a European data privacy act that doubles down on the opt-in side of email marketing. Under GDPR, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to send them emails. 

Tip #5: Understand Your Sender Reputation 

If you’re curious about what your sender’s reputation is, you can check it! There are numerous services out there to check and monitor your domain’s sender reputation, including Sender Score from Validity, and BarracudaCentral by Barracuda Networks 

Not only can these services give you a strong idea of your sender reputation, but they can provide you insights that can help improve it. 

Tip #6: Personalize Your Message 

Personalizing your messaging is one of the keys to your success. This is related to our first tip, but it takes things a step further; not only should you be sending relevant content to your contacts, but also personalizing it.  

Use dynamic content from your CRM, such as contact name or company name, to create a customized email. This reinforces the relationship between you and the email recipient, which helps identify you as a welcome sender. 

In closing, successful email marketing requires building trust with the people who receive your emails. To build trust, you need to provide value. Providing value can only be achieved when your emails are being received as the result of a well-thought-out email deliverability strategy.