Avoiding the Spam and Promotions Folders | HVAC Email Marketing


When it comes to digital marketing for local HVAC companies (and indeed all businesses), Gmail is just as mysterious as it is essential. The almighty algorithms play a key role in determining a brand's visibility on search engines and email inboxes.

Ever sent an email campaign that ended up in the Promotions tab — or worse, the Spam folder? Here are a few reasons why that might've happened, plus a few tips on how to prevent it in the future.

Why are my emails going to the Promotions tab?

Gmail's pretty smart. The algorithms can identify a marketing email blast in a fraction of a second and redirect it to the Promotions tab.

Think about it. Your customers' inboxes are overflowing (just like yours). To keep the inbox as clutter-free as possible, Gmail intelligently filters marketing promotions and social media updates from the main inbox.

We're not calling your emails clutter, of course. (Especially since we also do email marketing.) We're just saying that Gmail likes to keep things organized, which is fair enough.

The good news is, landing in the Promotions tab isn't necessarily a death sentence for your email engagement rates. Nearly 20% of people check and read emails in the Promotions tab regularly. This percentage might seem bleak at first glance, but that's still 1 in 5 customers.

Here are 5 reasons why your emails might end up in Promotions:

  • You sent your campaign from an email marketing platform like Mailchimp.
  • You used "salesy" language in your email copy to promote deals and offers.
  • You changed your name or "From" email address.
  • You included a lot of links to your social accounts in your footer.
  • Your emails are HTML-heavy.

Plain text with minimal links and images is usually the way to go.

Why are my emails going to the Spam folder?

The only thing worse than ending up in the Promotions tab is getting marked as spam. Here are a few reasons why your emails are going to Spam.

  • Your emails aren't compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. Sending false information, failing to identify emails as advertisements, and not adding an unsubscribe link are all violations of the CAN-SPAM Act. If your emails aren't compliant, Gmail and other email clients will flag them as spam.
  • You didn't proofread your email. Phishing emails are often littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. If your emails contain a lot of mistakes, Gmail might flag them as spam. Edit your emails before sending. If your grammar knowledge isn't up to scratch, try free editing software, like Grammarly.
  • You added too many links or images. Overdoing links or images could come across as spammy. Use relevant images sparingly, and avoid adding too many links.

Even if you follow all the rules, Gmail might still mark your email as spam. Before you send your message, run it through an email spam checker. You'll find some free email spam checking tools online. Again, these won't guarantee you'll avoid Spam, but they'll help you better understand spam-like email practices.

How to ensure your emails land in the inbox: 3 useful tips

Before we dive in, we'd like to reiterate that there's no fool-proof way to "outsmart" Gmail's algorithms. You probably already know this, though. Chances are Gmail's redirected an important email into your own spam folder before. However, these tips are pretty solid for preventing your messages from getting lost in the email ether.

Ask your subscribers to move your emails from Promotions to Primary

The easiest way to ensure your emails don't get lost in the Promotions tab is to ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address. A good time to do this is in your welcome or confirmation email.

When crafting your request, be sure to emphasize the value of your emails. Here are a few sample requests that a local HVAC company might include in their confirmation email:

  • To keep receiving home maintenance tips, please whitelist us!
  • Save time and energy costs with our tried and trusted HVAC maintenance tips. Add us to your contacts to receive new HVAC hacks every two weeks.
  • By reading emails like this one, you're supporting a small, local business. Thank you! To ensure our messages don't get lost in your spam folder, please consider adding us to your trusted sender list.

You may want to include a video or short tutorial for customers who may not know how to do this.

Avoid "salesy" subject lines and copy

Customers and email algorithms alike aren't a fan of pushy hard-sells. Of course, promoting offers and discounts is likely one of your email marketing goals. But Gmail will likely flag it as a promotion.

Try to avoid these words and their synonyms in your subject lines and body copy:

  • Free
  • Discount
  • Sale

Again, these aren't foolproof. Some emails with these words might land in the primary inbox, while others without these words could still end up in Promotions.

Keep things educational

We've found that educational content is one of the best approaches to HVAC email marketing. Check out a few of our own email subject lines for local HVAC businesses:

  • Quick Tip: 3 Signs it's Time to Replace Your Air Filter
  • 3 Things to Look for in an HVAC Warranty
  • 2 Fun Facts About Air Conditioning

The body content delivers exactly what the subject lines promise. That's actually a major factor for Gmail's algorithms. (And it's also a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act.)

Sure, you could steal these headlines if you wanted. Or, you could book a demo of our Engagement Engine and we'll throw in the whole HVAC email marketing playbook complete with educational email content for FREE!

Avoiding the spam and promotional folders: final thoughts on HVAC email marketing

Ultimately, avoiding the Promotional and Spam tabs in Gmail isn't an exact science. As long as you follow the tips we've covered above, your emails have a decent chance of landing in your customers' main inboxes.

Got questions about HVAC email marketing? We've got answers. Our Engagement Engine is tailor-made for HVAC businesses just like yours. We partner with 2,000+ local home service businesses across America. Could yours be next? Book your 15-minute, no-obligation demo of the Engagement Engine. (Mention this post and we'll even throw in a free trial run.)