You’ve spent hours working on your latest promotional email: taking gorgeous photos, writing strong copy, and designing it all so that it looks great when it gets opened. You hit send and wait for the orders to roll in.

Except—they don’t.

One thing that small business owners often neglect is email deliverability, or how successful you are at actually landing in your customers’ inboxes. If your emails are routed to spam or not delivered at all, it doesn’t matter how good the content is, because your subscribers won’t see it.

There are several things that can affect if your emails are delivered to inboxes or the right tab (like promotions), wind up in spam, or are blocked completely.

Sender reputation matters. If you’re emailing from a free email address—one that’s not associated with your business or website—or often have emails marked as spam by recipients, email providers will think that all your emails are spam and start directing them there.

Inconsistent email sends. Email providers “learn” your sending habits. If you haven’t sent messages in months or even years and then all of a sudden send several in a week, that raises suspicion that you’re sending spam. Off to the spam folder you go.

Engagement. Are people receiving your emails but not engaging with them? That can also work against you. If customers are just deleting your emails without opening them or not taking any action within them, that signals to email providers that the content isn’t good and that it’s probably spam.

Bounce rates: A hard bounce means you’re emailing an address that no longer exists, while a soft bounce means there’s a temporary problem with the email address. However, high rates of either bounce can affect your sender reputation.

Realised that your emails may need some help? Here are some simple fixes.

Double opt-in. This means that when someone subscribes to your list, they get an email asking them to confirm their address. Double opt-in tells email providers that messages from your address have been requested and are safe.

Get consistent. Try sending emails on a more regular basis to keep out of spam folders. If it’s been awhile since your last message, you may want to include a line that reminds people of how you received their email, like “You’re receiving this because you signed up for the Sparkly Cat giveaway.”

Steer clear of spammy words and phrases. Using words in your subject line like “Act now!” “Congratulations!”, all caps letters, or even excessive exclamation points signal that your message is spam. Tone it down a notch so you’re not sent to junk mail. If you’re linking to websites, use your own URLs, rather than URL shorteners, as spammers often use these to disguise where they’re sending from.

Create better emails. Sounds easy, right? But if your problem isn’t that your emails are being sent to spam but rather that no one is engaging with them, the content is probably the issue. Either it’s not compelling enough to your customers or what they expected vs what you’re delivering is off. Use this as an opportunity to try different types of content and see what sticks. Better yet, ask! You might also allow subscribers to choose how frequently they want to receive emails rather than totally unsubscribing, which can increase the likelihood that they read and engage with your messages.

Use your email provider’s reports. Most email providers provide reports after each email campaign. Use them to help troubleshoot issues that can be affecting your email deliverability. For example, if subscribers are marking your emails as spam, you might need to make the unsubscribe button more visible or even remove subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in months. If hard bounces are a problem, it’s time to clean up your list.

Your email marketing list is one of the most valuable tools you have to reach customers. By giving it a little TLC, you can make sure that all the hard work you put into it pays off.