Why Your Mailchimp Emails are Going to Spam

As an ESP, we know that one of an email marketer’s biggest worries is not landing in the inbox. It usually goes like this: you notice a decrease in open rates, so you start experimenting with subject lines or sending to more targeted segments. When that doesn’t work, you might use a spam testing tool like Litmus or Glock Apps. After some testing, you discover that your emails aren’t being opened as much because a decent chunk of them are being sent to spam.

Why does this often happen when you’re sending with Mailchimp?

Setting up a subdomain is one of the key ways to control deliverability and maintain a good open rate. Unfortunately, setting up a subdomain properly isn’t obvious in Mailchimp. When first configuring an account, you’re led to believe that “verifying” your domain (by clicking a confirmation link in an email sent from Mailchimp) means that all future email you send from Mailchimp will be sent from your domain.

This is simply not true.

What happens instead?

When you “verify” your domain with Mailchimp, all you’re doing is giving them permission to spoof your domain. This means that subscribers on the receiving end of your email will see your name and email as the sender, but there will be a via beside it (e.g. via gmail.mcsv.net or mailchimpapp.net).

This is how Mailchimp explains domain spoofing:

“To determine if an email is safe, email clients look at two addresses when they receive bulk email: the email address in the From field, and the sender address. The sender address is not always visible, but it is necessary to send email through Mailchimp. It's based on our sending servers, and usually contains  mcsv.net, mcdlv.net, mailchimpapp.net, or rsgsv.net. Some email inboxes display both your information and our information in the sender details of an email.”

Why does Mailchimp do this?

It’s unclear why Mailchimp makes you think you’re sending from your own domain when you’re actually sending from 'gmail.mcsv.net' or 'mailchimpapp.net'. If you dig through their Help Center, you can find details on email domain authentication, which requires a few more steps to actually send from your own domain.

When looking up resources for why your Mailchimp emails are going to spam, Mailchimp puts it in your hands:

“The only thing Mailchimp can control is our infrastructure. Beyond that, it's up to you to follow best practices for campaign content and contact collection.”

Related: Why Strong Email Deliverability Will Increase Your Opens, Clicks and Revenue Long Term

Mailchimp’s deliverability recommendations are rudimentary and don’t go into much detail about how you can use their features so your emails sent with Mailchimp don’t go to spam:

"Here are a few ways you can improve the deliverability of your email campaigns.

  • Create email content that's compliant with our Terms of Use and consistent with your brand.
  • Maintain a healthy audience with good email subscription practices.
  • Use merge tags to personalize the "To" field in your emails with your subscribers' names.
  • Ask your subscribers to add you to their address book.
  • Spam filters are less likely to flag your email if your subscribers have saved you as a contact.”

What should you do?

If you want to continue using Mailchimp, we recommend properly authenticating your domain to prevent your emails from going to spam. Properly authenticating your domain on Mailchimp lets you actually send from your domain instead of gmail.mcsv.net or mailchimpapp.net.

If you want to use an ESP that gives you a little more insight into deliverability, gives you built-in features to help avoid the spam box, and provides blog posts, guides, and hands-on customer experience managers to help you better understand your email marketing strategy, you can find out more about Hive here.