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Email Blacklists: How to avoid getting blocked for sending spam

July 5, 2024
7 min.

It’s possible to write valuable & personalized emails, target the right audience, and still end up in the spam folder. If you haven’t followed deliverability best practices, this could happen because your email address has been blacklisted.

If your email address is on a blacklist, your emails will go straight to your audience’s spam folder, which ruins your chances of getting replies & building relationships with them.

In this article, you’ll find:

→ what email blacklists are

→ how to get removed from email blacklists

→ 7 tips to avoid blacklists and landing in the spam folder

PS: Don't forget to get the Ultimate Checklist to Avoid Email Blacklists at the end 🔥

What are Email Blacklists?

Email blacklists are lists of email domains sending spam or unwanted emails. Email providers create these lists to protect email users from receiving such dangerous messages.

There are 2 types of email blacklists:

1. Domain based blacklists

These blacklists look at the overall activity of email domains and every address in it to identify spam-like behavior.

Some examples of domain-based blacklists are:

2. IP Address based blacklists:

Email providers use these blacklists to track the IP addresses connected to spammers and block their emails from getting delivered.

Some examples of IP-based blacklists are:

How to check if your email is on a blacklist?

Knowing if you’re on an email blacklist will help you quickly take steps to get removed, so you can stop landing in spam.

Here are 3 ways to find out if you're on a blacklist:

1. Check your lemwarm dashboard

Your deliverability score on lemwarm reduces when you get blacklisted. It also tells you if your email is on a blacklist, along with which blacklist it's on.

If your deliverability score has suddenly fallen or your emails are landing in spam, it could be because you're on a blacklist.

2. Audit your email deliverability

You should first check your sender reputation because a poor reputation might cause your emails to be blocked or sent to the spam folder, where your audience won’t see them. On the other hand, a good sender reputation lowers your chances of landing in spam or getting blocked.

This deliverability checker on lemstack can help you audit your domain (e.g. and find out if:  

✅ your MX records are set up

✅ your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are configured

✅ you're not on any blacklists

3. Contact your email service provider

Your email provider will notify you whenever your IP or domain is on a blacklist. But you can still contact them to be sure you haven’t missed any of these notifications in the past.

How to get off a spam email blacklist

There are 5 steps you could follow to get delisted and increase your deliverability 👇

1. Find out which blacklist you’re on

The first step is to find out which blacklists you’re on. This will help you know what lists to target since every blacklist has its own process to get removed.

There are 2 ways to find out which blacklists you’re on:

  • Check your lemwarm dashboard
  • Search for your domain name directly on blacklist databases.

For example, here I checked if the lemwarm newsletter domain has been blocked on URIBL 👇

2. Find out why you’re on a blacklist

Once you’ve identified the blacklist(s) you’re on, understand why your email IP or domain was blocked in the first place.

Ask these questions to figure out potential reasons why you might be blocked:

  • Did you get too many spam reports?
  • Was your bounce rate too high? (> 5%)
  • Did you send too many emails at once?

The exact reason why your email was blacklisted will be mentioned in the report you get.

3. Fix the issue

Depending on why you were blacklisted, ensure you’ve taken steps to fix the issue.

For example, if you were blocked for getting too many spam complaints, here’s what you can do:

→ Add a clear unsubscribe button to ensure that only people who want to receive your emails stay on your list.

→ Take feedback from your audience to understand what you could do better. Spam complaints could mean you aren't reaching the right target audience.

Clean your email list and update it as your offer evolves to ensure you’re reaching out to the right audience who will find it valuable.

4. Request for removal

Every blacklist has a process to get removed. Sometimes, just following deliverability best practices for a few weeks automatically removes you. Other times, you need to follow specific steps.

Either way, you can only request an email blacklist removal when you’ve fixed the issue that got you blocked. Once fixed, contact the blacklist and ask for the required steps to get removed.

Usually, this includes filling out a form, sending out an email, or paying a fee.

For example, invaluement has a dedicated process for delisting requests 👇

5. Monitor your deliverability

Once you’re removed from the blacklist, monitor your deliverability before, during, and after sending email campaigns. This will help you take other steps to boost your deliverability and avoid the spam folder.

For example, if you see any soft bounces in your email reports, you should immediately reduce your bounce rate before it triggers email providers and gets you blocked.

You can use lemwarm to monitor your deliverability & get notified in case of any issues. 👇

9 tips to protect your email from getting blocked

It's best to avoid getting blocked/blacklisted in the first place. Here's how!

1. Avoid using spam-trigger words

Spam-trigger words like "free," "act now," and "limited time offer" are common in spam or phishing emails. Using such words or phrases in your emails could trigger spam filters and get you blacklisted.

Here’s a list of 20 spam words to avoid in your emails👇

You'll find a complete list of 200+ spam words here.

2. Don’t buy your email lists

When you buy your email list, you're sending emails to people who haven't opted-in to receive your emails. This is unethical, and without your audience’s consent, you’ll get lower open rates and higher bounce rates, and spam complaints. Over time, poor email results like these could get your emails blocked.

Check out the “keep your email list healthy” guide for tips to grow your email list.

3. Use double opt-in to grow your email list

Double opt-in is a 2-step process where subscribers confirm their subscription by clicking on a link sent to their email. Taking your audience’s consent to send emails increases your chances of getting replies and prevents spam complaints or blacklisting.

For example, here’s the confirmation email you’ll get for the lemwarm newsletter👇

5. Keep a healthy image-to-text ratio

Emails with too many images and little text look sales-y and are often flagged as spam since that’s what most spam campaigns look like.

6. Complete your technical setup

Completing your technical setup verifies that you are a real sender and helps email providers ensure that your emails are legitimate and not spam.

Your technical setup is made up of 3 key settings:

lemwarm will notify you if something’s missing from your technical setup & give you tips to boost your deliverability 👇

7. Don’t send all your emails at once

If you send a large volume of emails simultaneously, email providers could assume you're sending spam and block you. Instead of sending all your emails at the same time, you can schedule them to get sent slowly throughout the day.

8. Use links instead of attachments

Emails with attachments can be flagged as spam since they are often used in phishing attacks. So it’s better to use links instead of attachments when you want to share files or media with your audience!

9. Avoid too many special characters in your email

Special characters, like exclamation marks (!!) and dollar signs ($$), are often used in spam campaigns. Emails containing too many of these characters can be flagged as spam, ultimately leading to blacklisting.

Here’s an example of email content that could get flagged as spam 👇

The Ultimate Checklist to Avoid Email Blacklists

Anything that tells email providers that you’re sending unwanted or dangerous emails to your audience could get you blocked. The best way to protect your email address is to monitor your deliverability at all times. This helps you take the right steps in time and protect your deliverability.

To avoid getting blocked and make sure you’ve covered all bases to avoid spam, get the Ultimate Checklist to Avoid Email Blacklists.

You’ll find steps to avoid getting blacklisted & detailed guides for each step.👇


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