You slave over your email newsletter, comply with CAN-SPAM and follow the essential guidelines regarding marketing emails and yet you find your newsletter marked as spam or in the junk folder. What can you do about this? Is something wrong with your content or is it that you are not testing enough? It is important to find out why.
In basic terms, what is spam? It is an unsolicited email sent to a list of people. We can consider it to be very similar to the junk mail you receive by post which goes directly into your bin, an annoyance and not even worth checking to see what it contains. Now let’s try to understand what are these dreaded spam filters? Spam filters are like bingo cards, they have a checklist and if an email ticks enough boxes on the scorecard … bang … it is spam!
So how do you avoid this trap, bearing in mind that all spam filters are programmed differently? Here is a set of guidelines that can help you beat spam filters. We are going to avoid the usual ones like content and phishing phrases.
1) Avoid Purchased Lists: Many of us purchase our lists, especially new businesses that are looking to spread the word fast. However, beware as they will ruin your reputation as a sender! These lists contain many invalid emails or worse, ‘spam trap’ emails which will immediately label you as a spammer. Your newsletter will find its way directly into the spam folder if you use this tactic. Instead, build your list the right way.
2) Make it easy to unsubscribe: There are chances that your audience will mark your newsletter as spam if they can’t easily unsubscribe. Make sure your unsubscribe link is clearly mentioned in the email and the process is quick and easy too. Use CSS to render your button (as opposed to images files) so that all readers, regardless of whether they display images in email, will be able to see the button.
3) Avoid attachments: In general, .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf attachments are safe to send, provided you include some content in the email as well. But bear in mind, most email readers regard attachments with suspicion anyway and files such as .exe, .zip, .swf,. should be avoided entirely. We recommend avoiding attachments completely, and instead sending a link to the file hosted on Dropbox.
4) Use a reputable domain name: or better still, your own. Free email addresses are often used heavily by spammers, so you’ll want to stay away from them if at all possible. Team up with reliable ESPs (Email Service Provider) that send only solicited emails and ban spammers from their platforms. They also have greater credibility with mailbox providers.
5) Stagger the delivery: Have your server send your messages out slowly as most email providers look to see how many messages you’re sending at a time. Slowly build up your volume up to your desired level and then stay consistent at that volume. Also, pay attention to the day and time you are sending the email at.
6) Don’t use sloppy HTML coding: This is one of the things spam filters check for. So use good coding techniques, but try to include as much plain text as possible. Besides, you’ll want to accommodate recipients who choose to view the message in plain-text format.
7) Pay attention to your subject line: The more specific your subject line, the better. Avoid using any of the spam triggering words like “free”, “offer”, etc. Also over-CAPITALIZATION and exclamation marks. Follow these subject line guidelines.
8) Try to get on the white lists: This can make your life much easier. Hotmail and Yahoo! both keep lists of approved senders. Once you’re on that list, you’ll almost always go into the inbox.
9) Examine your bounces: When your email bounces, it will tell you ‘why’ that happened and give you an appropriate reason. If you’re being listed on a service (that you may not be aware of), then you should investigate. And if you can see no real reason, you can also send an email to an email administrator of the service to find out why your emails are being blocked.
Ultimately you cannot force people to receive or open your mail or not mark them as spam. You can only control those factors that may lead to your domain or email being labeled as spam by observing the reaction to the emails that you send out. However, here is a list of items you need to make sure you have under control if you are new to sending newsletters.
Step 1: Be CAN-SPAM compliant
Step 2: Build and manage your list using a professional email marketing solution
Step 3: Keep a consistent publishing calendar
Step 4: Pay attention to the ‘To ‘and ‘From’ fields of an email
Step 5: Have killer content
Email marketing is already recognized as the most powerful way of targeting new customers cost-effectively, and if you do it right, it will bring immense returns. It is all about strategy and execution – looking great, rendering properly, getting into the inbox. So become a responsible sender, one who your audience would like to hear from.