About Spam Check

Spam check is a tool that you can use to help identify areas of "spamminess" in your campaigns and automation emails prior to sending them out to your contacts. 

What is Spam Check?

We run a Spam Check for every campaign and automation email you create. The Spam Check tool scans the content of your message and displays your results on both the Campaign Summary page and Campaign Settings page. If Spam Check did not see any issues with your content, you will see “Passed” with a green check mark. If Spam Check did come across any issues with your content, you’ll be presented with a number score as well as a list of issues you may want to fix. The list of issues presented triggered at least one rule for “spamminess.”

The backend tool at work for Spam Check is called SpamAssassin. This is the most widely used open source tool for scanning messages for “spamminess.” Many smaller ISPs use SpamAssassin as a tool for identifying obvious spam, and we are scanning your message against the same exact set of rules they will be using when they determine to block or allow the message you are attempting to deliver.

A few important notes about Spam Check:

  • Spam Check (SpamAssassin) does not prevent you from sending your email. It’s simply pointing out issues you may want to fix before sending the communication out to your contacts. 
  • Spam Check (SpamAssassin) only scans the content of your message. It does not know anything about the reputation of your domain or the makeup of your list. You can pass the Spam Check and still experience deliverability issues. 
  • Major ISPs do not rely heavily on SpamAssassin when identifying spam (Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook/Microsoft, Yahoo/AOL/Oath), and many do not use SpamAssassin at all. These providers may leverage some of the same logic that’s represented in SpamAssassin, but their anti-spam systems are proprietary and far more complex.

How concerned should you be if you did not pass the Spam Check?

Not very concerned. In fact, SpamAssassin says on their wiki:

Tip: Don't worry too much about specific rules within SpamAssassin. The rules catch spam. If your email isn't spam, you shouldn't be matching the rules. Even if you do hit an occasional rule, unless your email actually is spam, it shouldn't score high enough to be a problem.

In other words, if you’re following best practices, such as keeping a clean list and sending engaging content only to people who genuinely opted in, then you shouldn’t have to worry about occasionally getting a few points in the Spam Check. These rules are suggestions to help point you in the right direction; they are not indicators of success or failure. 

SpamAssassin also advises you to “Use normal conversational language.” In other words, don’t try anything fancy. If you use common sense when sending an email, you shouldn’t be triggering any Spam rules with ISPs. You can read here for more general tips and best practices about email content regarding deliverability.

Common Spam Check Errors

Below is a list of the most common Spam Check errors our customers see, and what you can do to fix them.

Error Fix
Refers to a muscle relaxant
Look for the phrases soma, cycl (cyclobenzaprine), flexeril, skelaxin, or zanaflex.
Sender email is commonly abused enduser mail provider
Do not use a Freemail from address like @gmail, @yahoo. You’ll want to use your own From email address.
No Description Available

Look for phrases:

  • “gold dust”

  • "Your...account"

  • “Dr.” 

  • "your compensation"

And check to make sure the From Address of your email isn’t a freemail provider like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com or @yahoo.com.

BODY: No description available
Look for the phrase "Reply to this email..."
BODY: HTML has a low ratio of text to image area

BODY: Message is 10% to 20% HTML obfuscation BODY: Message is 20% to 30% HTML obfuscation

Balance images and text ratio. Problem is likely that the content has too many images and very little text. Sometimes this is a false positive, due to the complex mobile responsive code generated by the email designer page.
URI: Uses %-escapes inside a URL's hostname
This can happen if you are using a personalization tag like %EMAIL%, which SpamAssassin will sometimes flag. You can ignore this because this will be populated at send time.
Make lots of money!
Remove the word "lucrative" or "profitable" from email text.
You use too many tags in your code
This is usually a false positive. SpamAssassin is seeing the complex code from our email designer and thinking that it's obscuring content.
Subject has exclamation mark and question mark
Remove '!' and/or '?' from subject lines.
BODY: Removal phrase right before a link
Remove the word 'Here" in 'Unsubscribe Here' at the footer of the email.
 Subject contains "Your Family"
Don't use the phrase "your family."
Accessing a blocklisted* URL or obscuring source of
Usually this happens with custom HTML. Look at the source of your URLs for your images. Most likely you copy/pasted a cached image from Gmail that is sourced from googleusercontent.com, which is very spammy. Instead upload the JPG/PNG to ActiveCampaign and insert it into their campaigns via the image manager, or host the image at your own domain.
Your message contains characteristics similar to those used by scammers
Remove phrase "your compensation."
A URI hostname has long a (6 characters or more) hexadecimal sequence. This looks suspicious
Check links for long number sequences like some abnormally formatted phone numbers. This can also happen if your account name has a long string of numbers like 1857105312.activehosted.com. Our Support Team can help you rename the account if this is the case.
Your message claims to be a "marketing partner" of the recipient. This is often filtered as spam.
Remove the phrase "marketing partner" or "network partner."
RAW: Message contains Dear but with no name
You opened your message with Dear but no actual first name. This might happen if you are using Dear %FIRST%, and SpamAssassin is not seeing an actual first name because the personalization tag isn’t populated yet.
BODY: Incorporates a tracking ID number
Look for a very long link or very long word with hyphens like Bestimmungs-Kraft-Session-2-Aufzeichnung that will trigger this rule.
Subject talks about losing pounds
Look for the phrase "lose pounds/lbs/weight" in the subject line.
Look for a phrase like "condizioni VANTAGGIOSISSIME quello", usually a false positive due to long words in non-english languages.
BODY: HTML: images with 2000-2400 bytes of words
The message is very short with just a little bit of text.
BODY: One Time Rip Off
Look for “one time” or “rip off” or a combination of those words within your campaign content.

*The term "blocklist" is also known as "blacklist." These two terms are often used interchangeably.

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