What happens when you get flagged as a spammer?

Learn on why you have been labelled as a spammer and how to solve the issue


Running a modern business these days require the use of emails for communication and promotions. You need to be aware that you run the risk of being flagged as a spammer, especially if you send out promotional newsletters via emails.

What are the signs that you have potentially been flagged as a spammer?

First and foremost, did you buy your email list from a vendor online? If the answer is yes, then you have most likely been flagged in a spam blacklist somewhere. Even if you send out legitimate marketing materials to the recipients on the mailing list, you can be blacklisted as those people did not sign up for your email newsletters. Anyone who receives an unsolicited email would press the spam button the moment the email arrives. Bought lists also frequently contain honeypot emails. These are old emails that have repurposed to trap spammers. Emailing them is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Now, if you did build your email list via double opt-in and legitimate signups, you are less likely to end up on a spam blacklist. This doesn’t mean you are 100% safe. People can still press the spam button on your email if your contents are spammy enough. Or if you didn’t give them the unsubscribe option.

On the technical side, you could also be the victim of a hosting-level blacklisting where someone using the same hosting provider as you, did the nasty as a spammer. Some blacklists will just block every IP address by that provider.

If one of the above is related to your situation, you will notice some issues. Checking your email service provider (ESP) statistics, you will notice your open and click rates going down. That could be due to your marketing emails not reaching your audience.

Often, businesses trying to email individual customers will see that their emails are being rejected. That is also the consequence of being on an email blacklist. Unfortunately, this happens pretty frequently.

How do I remedy the situation?

For the bought list case, ditch the list now and repent. Vow to only build your mailing list in the future using double opt-in. It requires more effort but it is better in the long run for your business and reputation.

On the unsubscribe issue, always include a link in the emails for the reader to unsubscribe from your mailings. Then honor any unsubscribe requests.

Being blacklisted at the hosting-level, it’s not fair since you did nothing wrong. Still, some blacklists have the option to whitelist your particular IP address so you can make sure your mail server can function normally. This is usually a paid service though. Whether it’s worth it, depends on your business needs. You can also contact the hosting provider to ask them to remedy it on their end.

Bonus tip

As always, before sending out your email marketing campaign, make sure to run them through the MailboxValidator bulk validation service to remove unreachable email addresses. Save yourself from being blacklisted because you emailed some old email addresses.

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