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Growing an email audience while staying out of the spam folder

Regardless of the industry you’re in, I have some bad news for you.

Your database is very likely out of date, your emails are going to spam, and this means nobody is reading them.

A person with their hands on their head looking frustrated at their laptop

What's the point?

You may be asking yourself “Why send email campaigns then?”

The short answer: Email is still one of the most effective, cost-saving, and personalised ways to reach your audience. The difference though is that your email environment needs some special attention.

The long answer, however, holds the key to getting this right, so let us share some knowledge on how you can go about doing this the right way for your educational institution.

Growing your database

One of the most frequently asked questions by companies is “How do I grow my email database?”.

There isn’t one easy and simple answer to this. The fact of the matter is that growing an engaged and valuable email list is not an easy process. It takes time and effort, so let us dive right in and see what you can do to grow your email database.

The golden rule to begin with is this: Do not purchase an email database. It’s 2023, and with various data privacy and consent laws in play, no one should be purchasing a database. Purchased lists also result in high spam complaints, damaged sending reputations and worse, can damage your company’s reputation.

You will want to spend your time and effort growing your database organically and there are several things that you can do to effectively grow your email list.

Add a signup button/form to your website:

Use your website traffic to grow your database by encouraging people who visit your website to sign up for your database.

Make use of social media:

Almost everyone today will likely have some form of social media profile, so why not use your current and new social audiences to grow your email database?

Here are 3 quick things you can do on your pages and channels to build your list:

  1. Change the button on your pages to sign up, and direct people to your email sign-up form.

  2. Create posts enticing your followers to sign up for your database. Showing them snippets of exclusive content is a great way to do this.

  3. Run adverts with free resources which act as lead magnets to provide a solid incentive to get folks to part with their email addresses.

Red neon sign illustrating a like heart from Instagram

Use LinkedIn as a growth tool:

LinkedIn is still one of the best places to grow your email list, but it must be done properly and ethically.

Many people are disengaged with random messages, but having context, targeting your message at the right receiver, and adopting a regular invite process is key.

From curating the right message to reaching the right audience, and initiating a conversation, you can really drive sign-ups to your database using the tools and networking opportunities that LinkedIn provides.

You can also use LinkedIn groups to market your business and encourage sign-ups to your database. Again, using snippets of exclusive content, requiring an email address for the full content piece, is a great way to grow your audience.

Use other communication channels:

Add a link to your sign-up form to your email signatures and even on your WhatsApp for Business profile. Wherever you can reach a prospect, try to entice them to leave their email address.

Use the Database Growth Playbook:

To tie all of these together and do this in the right way, I’ve curated 50+ pages of database growth insights to help you utilise your website, social media channels and direct communication channels to grow your email audience.

Hit this link to join our bi-weekly newsletter all about email knowledge for everyone, and you’ll have a free copy sent straight to your inbox.

The dreaded spam folder

In the game of email marketing, if your emails are not being delivered then you are wasting your time and your money.

Let’s look at what spam filters are and what you can do to avoid them while getting your emails to your subscriber’s inbox.

Cans of Spam stacked on top of one another

What are spam filters?

To protect their users, email providers such as Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail use spam filters to help ensure these messages do not “clutter” users’ inboxes or harm them.

These spam filters act as a shield, analysing incoming emails and allowing the good ones to reach the inbox while filtering the bad ones into the spam folder (or blocking them completely).

Previously these email providers would only analyse your email content to look for spammy content. Nowadays, there is a lot more involved when it comes to an email getting blocked by a spam filter.

Email providers look at their user engagement and previous interactions with your past campaigns and use this information to determine whether your latest campaign makes it to the inbox or not.

This, along with good email delivery is key to getting to the inbox.

What you want your customers to do with your emails:

  1. Open your emails: When readers frequently open your emails, email providers see this as a good sign and will improve your email reputation.

  2. Reply to your emails: When readers reply to your email, email providers take this engagement into account and grant you a better email reputation.

  3. Mark your email as not junk: When customers move your email out of the junk folder, this is considered a very strong, positive signal that your campaigns are relevant and worthy of making the inbox.

  4. Move your email to other folders: If your recipients move your emails into various folders in their inbox, the email providers take this as a sign they care about your emails and are more likely to continue delivering them to their inbox.

  5. Add to address book: If your recipients add your email address to their address book, the email providers see this as a sign of approval, helping you hit the inbox in future.

What you don’t want your customers to do with your emails:

  1. Move your email to their junk folder: When readers move your email to their junk folder this is seen as a negative sign with email providers, and they are less likely to deliver your emails in the future.

  2. Delete your emails without opening: When a reader deletes your email without opening it, the email provider will see this as a negative signal and likely move you to spam soon.

How to avoid spam filters

  1. Only email people who have permitted you to do so: Build your email list organically through people signing up to receive your emails.

  2. Use a known from name: One of the first things that a subscriber sees is your from name and will play a huge part in whether your recipient opens your email or not. Using a from name that your recipients are going to recognise always works best.

  3. Use a real reply-to address: We mentioned earlier that you want your recipients to reply to your emails. Email providers know that people are not going to reply to junk and spam emails, so they see it as a good sign if users are replying to emails. Avoid using a noreply@ email address and rather use an email address that your customers can reply to.

  4. Send targeted campaigns: Instead of going for a “spray-and-pray approach” (which, I can almost guarantee does not work), send targeted emails to segmented groups of your database. By sending tailored and segmented emails, your recipients are more likely to open and engage with your emails, improving your reputation with email providers.

Person typing on their laptop keyboard

You may be thinking that growing your database or staying out of the spam filter is a ton of effort, but if you follow these and begin implementing a few of these suggestions, you will likely almost see an immediate change in your email success.

Before you go!

We spoke about this in our database growth section earlier, but in case you missed it: Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook. Click here or on the image caption below to get your FREE copy👇

Preview of the Ultimate Email List Database Growth Playbook

Want to become an email expert? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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