Email Marketing Essentials: Six Tips to Avoid Spam Filters
As a marketer, how do you ensure that your carefully crafted emails reach the right inboxes? When it comes to avoiding spam filters, everything counts. From content formatting to trusted service providers and even subject lines, read these six must-know tips to amplify your email marketing with the right set-up.
Email marketing is incredibly effective and cost-efficient, especially for small businesses. However, crafting email content and strategy, nurturing and growing email lists, and monitoring performance take resources and effort. After spending all that time on setting up your email marketing, it would be a shame to throw your investment down the drain by having your email blocked by spam filters.
From poorly written emails to irrelevant content, there are many details email marketers should pay close attention to avoid spam filters. What are they, exactly? Spam filters are a program that determines if an email looks suspicious or spammy and filters the ones that meet the criteria out.
According to research, a quarter of marketing emails never reach the sender’s inbox. To help you avoid ending up in that dreaded 25%, we’ve compiled a list of six must-know tips to stay out of spam filters.
It All Starts with the From: Field
A recognizable sender name is a must have to avoid spam filters, yet the benefits of owning a branded email address don’t stop at that. People are more likely to trust and open emails that come from a reputable brand name. That in turn drives marketing performance, brand recognition, and ultimately, sales.
For spam filters, it is best practice to use any variation of firstnamelastname@domain (with the domain being the name of your brand/business). If you’re still using a personal email, now is the time to make the jump and create a branded business address. From free to low-cost options, getting started is simple and you should invest in this before fixing any other mistakes that may land you in the junk folder or spam filters.
Once you have an email address, stick to it as changing the email frequently looks suspicious to spam filters and they may blacklist you for it.
Choose a reliable Email Service Provider (ESP)
Another thing spam filters analyze is your email service provider which simply put, is the company that provides you with the inbox, email address, and a mix of other online services (depending on the provider). Having a trusted ESP helps you sail through spam filters which is why we recommend you go with one of the big names like Gmail or Outlook.
Clean and Trustworthy Subject Lines
Now that we’ve gotten the technicalities sorted out, it’s time to focus on the content. Subject lines are critical not only to email open rates but to avoiding spam filters, too.
What are some of the typical headline mishaps that will land you in the spam filter?
- SHOUTING: avoid all caps in subject lines
- Using special character such as $, #, @, &, and so on
- Spammy words often used by suspicious emailers, for example: Increase sales, Info you requested, Incredible deal
- Misleading subject lines such as including “Re:” at the start
- One word subject lines
Clean Up Your Body Copy and Content
With Spam Filters, every minute detail matters as they also scan your email content for suspicious content. Pay attention to your formatting: don’t be tempted to play around with unusual fonts or colored text as those can be flagged as spam. Ps. The list of words to avoid we mentioned in the previous paragraph also applies to body copy.
Scammers often include virus attachments into their emails. If you want to send one, say a guide or an e-book, never include the attachment into the actual email but prompt them to click on a call-to-action button or hyperlink that will lead them to the PDF, ideally hosted online.
You should also avoid flash and rich media as well as embedded content because those tend to get flagged, too. If you include images, make sure that they are in the right format and load quickly, as broken images could prompt the recipient to flag the email as spam. Keep your text-to-image ratio balanced with 65:35 being the ideal split to aim for.
Keep Your Lists Pristine
Never buy email lists, no matter how tempting it may seem when you’re starting out and looking to build an audience. When you buy lists, you can never be sure about the quality of the addresses. Instead, take your time. Include newsletter opt-in captures on your website and explain the benefits of subscribing. Many e-commerce companies offer a one-time discount code in exchange for signing up to the newsletter, for example. It’s also best practice to go for double opt-in where you send a follow-up email to confirm that they want to subscribe to your newsletter.
The quality of email lists declines about 22% each year which is why it is important to clean them out regularly. When is it time to scrub an email list?
Look at your email statistics and pay attention to:
- Open rates
- Spam reports
If your performance is going down while your spam reports, unsubscribers, and bounces are increasing, it’s a telltale sign that your lists could use a spring cleaning. Many email providers automatically remove hard bounces but you should look at the details of the soft ones: perhaps they have a typo in the address (like otlook instead of outlook) that can be easily fixed.
It’s also a good idea to look at disengaged recipients, i.e. people who have not opened your emails in a while. Create a custom email campaign to try and lure them back in the game: give them a special perk or ask them if they’d like to unsubscribe.
Test Before You Send
Lastly - did you know that you can get a scorecard that rates the quality of your emails? Once you’ve completed the steps above and have your beautifully crafted emails ready to go from your company address, it’s time to test your email. There are free online tools where you can send your email and receive insights into how you’re doing in return. These tests typically analyze your IP address, domain, and email content and provide you detailed tips and pointers that help you get a sense of whether your email is in danger of getting stopped by spam filters or not.