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Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam, Promotions, or Junk

Effective Tactics to Ensure Your Emails Reach the Inbox

Your Mailchimp emails landing in the spam, promotions, or junk folder is a frustrating reality that can cripple even the most brilliantly crafted email campaigns. 

Why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

While Mailchimp is a big name in email marketing, it's not immune to deliverability challenges. Why? Due to its popularity, it attracts a mix of users, including those sending low-quality content. This negatively impacts the platform's overall reputation, leading to lower engagement rates and deliverability issues.

Additionally, Mailchimp isn't exclusively focused on email marketing. It's an all-in-one platform offering a variety of features, which dilute its effectiveness in some areas, like newsletter marketing.

In contrast, there are other platforms out there, like beehiiv are tailored specifically for email marketing growth. They provide specialized tools for editing, designing, publishing, and monetizing, all aimed at enhancing newsletter-based email marketing.

We'll explore the reasons behind the deliverability issues faced by Mailchimp users and look into why you should switch to more niche platforms like beehiiv.

Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam?

The measure of success in email marketing is getting your message directly into the recipient's primary inbox and the user opening it.

A June 2023 survey by Email Tool Tester shed light on Mailchimp's performance in email deliverability, revealing some intriguing insights. 

Mailchimp had a 95.5% deliverability rate. While Mailchimp boasted this impressive overall deliverability rate, this figure doesn't tell the whole story.

This rate was calculated based on the percentage of emails that successfully reached recipients' mailboxes. However, it didn't distinguish between those landing in the primary inbox and those diverted to secondary tabs, like Gmail's Promotions. 

For marketers, the distinction is crucial. An email buried in the Promotions tab often goes unnoticed, unlike one in the primary inbox.

Going deeper, the survey assessed Mailchimp's deliverability rates to popular ISPs such as Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft (Hotmail + Outlook), and AOL. 

Here, the findings were more nuanced. Specifically, for Gmail's primary inbox, Mailchimp's deliverability rate stood at 75%. While not dismal compared to the industry average, a significant 23.3% of emails were relegated to other tabs, including the Promotions tab.


There’s a lot of different reasons why this could happen. The most common ones are listed below.

1. Mailchimp’s Use of Shared Sending Domains

The primary concern with shared sending domains is the concept of shared reputation. 

In email marketing, each domain accumulates a reputation based on the behavior of its users. This reputation influences email deliverability, with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) using it as a critical metric to determine if an email should land in the inbox, spam folder, or promotions tab.

When you send an email through Mailchimp, it often uses a domain in a format resembling mcsv.net, mcdlv.net, Mailchimpapp.net, or rsgsv.net., which are shared among multiple accounts.

When multiple users share this domain, the actions of one user can affect all others using the same domain. 

If a few users engage in poor email practices (like sending spammy content or generating a high number of bounces and complaints), it can tarnish the reputation of the entire domain. 

As a result, even well-intentioned, rule-abiding users like you may find their emails penalized, landing in spam folders.

Shared domains also suffer from a “pooling” effect. High email traffic from numerous users leads to a constant stream of emails being sent from the same domain. This high volume can trigger red flags for ISPs, especially if some traffic is deemed low-quality or spam-like.

2. Mailchimp Uses Low-Quality Senders

Mailchimp, like many other email service providers, balances the use of shared and dedicated IP addresses to manage its email-sending services.

As we have seen in the previous point, this setup has significant implications for email deliverability and sender reputation.

When a sender on a shared IP address engages in negative practices, such as sending spam or using improperly collected email lists, it can harm the reputation of that IP. 

Consequently, this tarnished reputation affects all users sharing the IP, potentially leading to their emails being flagged as spam or not delivered at all.

However, Mailchimp actively monitors for abusive practices to safeguard its service quality. Users who violate Mailchimp's terms of use, especially those engaging in spammy behavior, are subject to actions that can range from warnings to account suspension. 

But, false negatives are definitely a thing and that is why sometimes your mails end up in the wrong tabs through no fault of your own. 

3. You Haven't Set Your Email Authentication Properly

Email authentication is used to verify that an email is indeed sent from a legitimate source and has not been altered during transit.

Two primary methods of email authentication are SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). These methods enable the receiving mail servers to confirm that the email claiming to be from a certain domain is authorized and unaltered.

Mailchimp automatically adds default SPF and DKIM records to your emails, which is essential for primary authentication. 

However, if you're using your domain for email campaigns, you must set up your own DKIM and SPF records. This personalizes the authentication process, aligning it directly with your domain.

By correctly setting up these records, Mailchimp can display your domain's information in the email header.

If SPF and DKIM records are not correctly set, ISPs may flag your emails as suspicious or unauthenticated, leading them to be filtered into spam folders or blocked entirely.

Also, without a proper DKIM setup, your domain is more susceptible to being used for email spoofing and phishing attempts, which can damage your reputation and trust with your audience.

4. Mailchimp’s Reputation

According to Datanyze, Mailchimp has 68.03% of the email market share.

Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam, Promotions, or Junk

However, this vast scale of operation brings with it certain challenges, particularly concerning the platform's reputation.

With such a diverse user base, the risk of the platform being associated with spammers increases significantly.

The actions of these less reputable users have a ripple effect on the platform's overall reputation. Email Service Providers (ESPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) often monitor the source of emails for spam-like activities. 

When a significant amount of spam is detected originating from Mailchimp's servers or domains, it can lead to a generalized reputation issue. This means that even legitimate, rule-abiding users suffer collateral damage, as their emails are more likely to be scrutinized or filtered by spam algorithms.

5. Improper Email Practices on Your Side

Factors such as Mailchimp's shared domains and reputation play a significant role in email deliverability. Still, you should also not overlook the impact of your email practices. 

Often, the reason emails end up in spam or don't engage recipients effectively can be traced back to the sender's part.

One of the most critical aspects of email marketing is maintaining a clean and engaged email list. Neglecting to prune inactive subscribers or failing to validate email addresses regularly will lead to high bounce rates and low engagement, signaling to ISPs that your content might not be wanted.

Other improper practices include:

  • Overusing “Spammy” Language: Certain words and phrases are red flags for spam filters. Overusing sales-oriented phrases like "Buy now!" or "Limited time offer!" triggers these filters, causing your emails to land in the spam folder.

  • Ignoring Subscriber Preferences: Sending emails too frequently or content that doesn't align with what subscribers signed up for leads to high unsubscribe rates and spam complaints. Respecting subscriber preferences and expectations is key.

  • Lack of Personalization: One-size-fits-all emails are less effective. Failing to personalize emails, whether through dynamic content, segmented lists, or tailored messages, leads to decreased engagement.

  • Inconsistent Sending Frequency: Sending emails sporadically or at irregular intervals confuses your audience and harms your reputation. Consistency is essential for building trust and recognition.

  • Neglecting Mobile Optimization: With a significant portion of emails being opened on mobile devices, not optimizing your email design for mobile leads to poor user experience and reduced engagement.

External factors do play a role in email deliverability, but it's equally important to focus on refining your email marketing practices.

Best Practices to Ensure Your Mailchimp Emails Reach the Intended Inbox

With the right strategies in place, you can significantly increase the chances of your emails landing in the recipient's primary inbox.

From crafting engaging content to understanding the technical nuances of email delivery, these tips will help you avoid the common pitfalls that lead to emails being marked as spam or lost in the clutter of secondary tabs.

1. Avoid Spammy Words and Subject Lines

Spam filters are designed to identify and filter out emails that resemble spam, and they often focus on specific words or phrases commonly used in spam emails.

Certain words and phrases are notorious for triggering spam filters. These include overly aggressive sales language, misleading claims, and terms commonly associated with junk email content. 

Examples include words like:

  • Buy now

  • Free

  • Guaranteed

  • No credit check

  • Once in a lifetime

  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

The best practice is to ensure that your subject line accurately reflects the content of your email. Misleading subject lines trigger spam filters and erode trust with your audience.

A straightforward and concise subject line is more effective than one cluttered with sales jargon or excessive punctuation.

You can also use a tool like beehiiv to A/B test your subject lines to see which ones resonate best with your audience and avoid spam filters.

2. Regularly Clean Your Email List

Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam, Promotions, or Junk

Regularly cleaning your email list means removing inactive or unresponsive subscribers and correcting or deleting invalid email addresses to prevent hard bounces.

A clean list ensures that your emails reach people genuinely interested in your content, leading to higher open and click-through rates.

High open and click-through rates are positive indicators to ISPs that your emails are welcomed and valued by the recipients. This good reputation means your emails are less likely to be marked as spam.

  • Determine a time frame (e.g., no engagement for the past six months) to identify inactive subscribers. Send them a re-engagement email and remove those who don’t respond.

  • Use email validation tools to check the validity of the email addresses on your list. This way, you can identify and remove addresses that are incorrect or no longer in use.

  • Keep an eye on how subscribers interact with your emails. If certain subscribers consistently fail to open or click, consider removing them from your list.

Make list cleaning a regular part of your email marketing routine, such as quarterly or biannually.

3. Understand and Implement Email Authentication

Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam, Promotions, or Junk

Understanding and correctly implementing email authentication significantly improves your standing with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and reduces the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.

The primary protocols used for email authentication are:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance)

Most email service providers will guide you on how to set up authentication for your custom domains.

Keep your authentication settings up-to-date and review them regularly to ensure they align with any changes in your email strategy or domain configuration.

4. A/B Test

A/B testing, or split testing, is a systematic process in email marketing to compare two versions of a single variable to determine which one performs better.

Why Do My Mailchimp Emails Go To Spam, Promotions, or Junk

A/B testing allows you to experiment with different aspects of your email campaigns, such as subject lines, email content, call-to-action buttons, or sending times.

By doing so, you can identify when and what makes your emails land in the recipient’s inbox.

This testing provides concrete data on your audience's preferences and behaviors, enabling you to make informed decisions about your email strategy.

5. Disable Click Tracking

In email marketing, tracking user engagement, like clicks on links within your emails, is a common practice to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns.

For example, Mailchimp offers a feature known as link wrapping, which tracks these clicks. 

However, this very feature, while useful, sometimes inadvertently triggers spam filters.

When you enable click tracking in Mailchimp, it automatically replaces the URLs in your email with tracking redirect links. These links redirect through Mailchimp's servers to track the interaction before taking the subscriber to the intended web page.

Some spam filters are wary of redirect links because spammers often use similar tactics to disguise malicious URLs. 

Therefore, when an email contains several tracking links, it’s sometimes mistaken for spam, even if the content is legitimate.

We don’t generally recommend disabling click tracking due to its value in measuring engagement, but it might be necessary in cases where you're encountering issues with particularly stringent spam filters.

The decision to turn off click tracking should be based on your specific audience and the context of your email campaigns. If you find that a significant portion of your emails are being marked as spam and suspect tracking links are the cause, turning off the feature could be a good solution.

However, weigh the benefits of click tracking against the potential risk of triggering spam filters.

Use beehiiv to Send Your Email Newsletters

Are you noticing that many of your emails sent through Mailchimp aren't making it to your recipients' primary inboxes?

If this challenge resonates with you, it might be time to consider a switch to beehiiv

Tailored specifically for newsletter creation, growth, and monetization, beehiiv offers a specialized approach that could favor your email strategy.

How does beehiiv stand out?

  • Custom Domain and IP Infrastructure: Unlike the shared domain model used by many platforms, beehiiv allows for custom domain configuration, giving you control over your domain reputation. Combined with a custom IP infrastructure, this feature significantly enhances your email deliverability.

  • Integrated Email Validation: beehiiv platform ensures that your email list is populated with legitimate, engaged subscribers, thanks to integrated third-party email validation. This improves deliverability and the overall quality of your audience engagement.

  • Focused on Quality Senders: With strict onboarding verification and mechanisms to flag and remove poor senders, beehiiv maintains a high standard of email quality across its platform, benefiting all its users.

  • Innovative Features for Newsletter Success: From built-in Gmail clipping warnings to a dedicated deliverability support team, beehiiv is equipped with cutting-edge features that address the specific needs of newsletter creators.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Key Reasons for Mailchimp Emails Going to Spam?

Mailchimp emails often hit spam due to shared domains affected by users' collective behavior, the presence of low-quality senders impacting domain reputation, improper setup of SPF and DKIM records, and poor email practices like spammy content, unclean lists, and erratic sending patterns.

How Can A/B Testing Improve the Effectiveness of Your Email Campaigns?

By testing variables such as subject lines or newsletter content, you gain valuable insights into your audience's preferences.

This data-driven approach helps you make informed decisions about your email strategy, leading to higher open rates, better click-through rates, and overall more effective email campaigns.

How Can I Prevent My Mailchimp Emails From Ending Up in Junk or Promotions?

Enhance audience engagement by personalizing emails and avoiding spammy language. Maintain list hygiene by removing inactive subscribers. Properly configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records. Use A/B testing for optimal subject lines and content, and adjust strategies based on campaign performance metrics.

Get Started with beehiiv

Our platform offers a suite of tools, from custom sending domains to sophisticated email validation, all designed to enhance the likelihood of your emails landing in the primary inbox.

Our 30-day free trial gives you the perfect opportunity to test and experience the beehiiv platform.

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