What Happens to Junk Mail

Email providers are always looking to improve the end user experience by improving spam filtering, and more recently, streamlining what happens with the emails that land in a user’s spam folder. Keeping the inbox tidy is a big priority, with many users citing spam as a reason they have switched their email address to another provider. Keeping spam out of the inbox keeps the user from feeling like they’re being bombarded with messages, and hopefully makes it easier to find mail where it is supposed to be. Beyond this, many services are modifying emails that end up in the spam folder in order to make their email accounts even safer.


One of the most obvious changes came late in 2012, when Yahoo began disabling links from messages that landed in the spam folder. This was a direct response to the amount of spam their users were receiving, which was causing many users to migrate to other services. Like most other spam filters, Yahoo’s SpamGuard learns from behavior and what you manually mark as spam, or what you mark as legitimate mail. By default, SpamGuard empties messages from the spam folder after a month, although users have the option of changing this to once a week, or once every two weeks. These changes have made it even more vital to inbox, because if you aren’t, your subscribers will have to jump through hoops to click on your messages, if they even see them in the first place!


Microsoft has also followed suit, with their SmartScreen Filter working in a similar way to the Yahoo SpamGuard. SmartScreen Filter is a part of Microsoft’s overall internet security, and is also part of Internet Explorer. The spam filtering portion of SmartScreen filter automatically disables links of messages landing in the spam folder, although you can unblock the links in two clicks. The Filter also automatically deletes junk messages after ten days, making it difficult for users to find old emails if they landed in the junk folder. One helpful feature is a link at the bottom of the junk folder for user’s searching for an email, which they can click on to review their blocked senders list.


Gmail is in the process of rolling out sweeping changes to their inbox, with customizable tabs designed to keep the user organized in an easier fashion. Understanding Gmail’s filtering methods are key to landing in the inbox. It’s unclear if these changes will be helpful or problematic for marketers, but it’s an innovative approach that could be taken by Microsoft and Yahoo in the future.

These changes are definitely the future of email, with more users concerned with being overwhelmed by legitimate marketing messages, spam, and increasingly more sophisticated phishing attacks. Marketers need to make a connection with their subscribers before they send mail, gaining trust during the sign up process and making sure that subscribers whitelist their messages after they sign up.

Written by
Marcin Chruszcz
Account Manager at ExpertSender
Email and marketing geek. Specializes in email deliverability, strategy and design. Basketball and MTB riding enthusiast.
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