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How to Find Out Why Your Emails Are Not Going Into the Inbox

I've Sent Multiple Emails and They're Not Making it Into my (or my recipients') Inbox!  

by Marianne Cellucci

I have sent multiple emails to different email providers (Yahoo!, Hotmail (Live,Outlook), Gmail, AOL, Verizon, etc.) with no success. They're not making it into my inbox, or my recipients' inboxes.

Email delivery can fail at any number of places along its journey from the sender to the intended recipients...even if the recipient is you! As the possible issues are limitless, in this post, I've covered some of the most common reasons that emails may not be delivered to an inbox.

Messages can evade inboxes and end up in junk email, bulk email, spam, or trash folders due to automatic spam filtering or filters that you've configured, your administrator has configured, or an email client has chosen by default. Also, those who engage (open, click, forward, read, re-read, or have your ‘From’ address in their address book or contacts list) will see the message in their inbox, where other members of your list, at the same domain (IP address or web address), who do not actively engage or have your 'From' address in their address book or contact list, see it in a secondary folder.

Things to consider:

  • Have you asked your subscribers to add your email addresses and domain names to their Safe Senders/Safe Recipients List/Address Book? If not, do this via your join form.
  • Are emails being filtered by custom spam filters? Check those and see if any of them may have inadvertently saved the message in question to a different email folder than expected (or caused it to be forwarded or otherwise diverted). If so, try sending mail to an address without any spam filtering at all.
  • Have you checked the level of junk email protection you want within your preference center?
  • Are your emails heavy on images? Many recipients are going to be viewing email behind a company firewall or other content-filtering system that may block your images. Try sticking to an 80:20 text to image ratio.
  • Does the sender address ("From") match your website? If not, correct this.
  • Check your "Reply-To" and "Send Mail As" addresses to ensure that you haven't wrongly formatted/misspelled either of these addresses (to ensure that they are valid existing addresses).
  • Is your server on a blacklist (e.g. check IP on
  • Always include a text portion of your newsletter. Not many people read just text anymore, but spam filters rate your message based on this).
  • Is your HTML code tidy? Spam filters are likely to block poorly coded HTML.
  • Help ISPs verify your identity by making sure that your DNS entry is complete and correct. A DNS (Domain Name Server) is the web service that translates a website's name to its Internet address.
  • Use email authentication methods to prove that your emails and your domain name belong together, and to prevent spoofing of your domain name. Both SPF and DKIM attempt to validate the authenticity of a message sender by looking at the sending domain and qualifying that the server sending the message is legitimate:
  • Do you monitor your marketing frequency and set expectations? When people subscribe to your newsletter it's strongly recommended that you set expectations by telling them how often they will be receiving your service emails or promotional messages (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly).
  • Lastly, I can't stress enough the importance of the ‘priority inbox/email’ concept. For example, Gmail Priority Inbox users are benefiting from Google’s algorithm, which predicts which emails are important based on which ones a user opens and responds to. Each ISP has its own engagement algorithm to determine how readers are engaging with email (opening, clicking, unsubscribing, marking as spam, deleting, etc.). So, put simply, engagement matters!
  • Authenticating mail with DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a way to digitally sign messages and verify the messages were sent by a particular domain. DKIM will not only prove to a recipients filters that it is authentic, and not a forgery; but also enables you to receive feedback from subscribers at Yahoo!
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication system designed to prevent email spam by detecting email spoofing, a common vulnerability, by verifying sender IP addresses. SPF allows administrators to specify which hosts are allowed to send mail from a given domain by creating a specific SPF record (or TXT record) in the Domain Name System (DNS). Use SPF Record Lookup.

We suggest your review our article on 26 Real Ways to Increase Engagement In Your Email Newsletter. Emails getting high engagement almost always go straight to the inbox!

Also read, Before Your Email Gets Opened, it Needs to Reach the Inbox.

Call us with any questions. We've partnered with Return Path and Pivotal Veracity to help our customers get their email “inboxed!”