Maintaining a quality mailing list that consists exclusively of subscribers who want to hear from you is paramount to the success of any email campaign. However, despite this fact, over a fifth of all legitimate promotional emails still end up going missing or landing in the spam folder. As such, taking every necessary step to improve email deliverability will help you increase your response rate and avoid the spam filters.
#1. Write Compelling Content
A great email starts with a strong subject line that sets expectations that are then delivered upon in the content itself. That means using actionable language and writing content that inspires an emotional response in your target reader. Instead of just selling, you should be demonstrating your industry authority and taking every step to ensure that your content is relevant.
#2. Be Open and Honest
Spammers are dishonest by nature, and that's why they often try to mask their true intentions and even hide their identities. Legitimate brands, however, are proud of who they are and market themselves transparently. Building trust is an important goal of any campaign, so you should make sure to set realistic expectations and give your audience what you promise.
#3. Align with Subscriber Expectations
When you are building your subscriber list, you'll be setting expectations which you'll need to commit to delivering upon. For example, if your subscribers think they're signing up to one monthly newsletter, they're not going to be pleased if you start sending them promotions every week. If you want to send at different frequencies, consider instead segmenting your audience upon subscribing.
#4. Test Your Emails
Over-zealous spam filters don't tend to be very sympathetic to email newsletters that exhibit any formatting problems. Additionally, every email client is a bit different, so you should always stick to using HTML while also providing a plain-text version. Before you hit the send button, however, you should make sure to test your email on a range of screen sizes, including both desktop and mobile devices.
#5. Keep Your Mailing Lists Clean
You can't simply hope to build a mailing list overnight and capitalize on it forever more. A quality mailing list takes time to build and keep clean, but it will become one of your company's most important assets. Regularly combing through your mailing list to remove hard bounces and subscribers who have never responded to you is paramount to keeping clear of spam filters and unsubscribes.
#6. Track Key Performance Metrics
Just like any other digital activity, an email marketing campaign generates a huge amount of data. This information can give you actionable insights into what works and what doesn't. All the major email platforms provide visualizations of important metrics such as open rates, click-throughs, bounce rates, unsubscribes and spam complaints. You should use the information to constantly improve your campaign.
#7. Avoid Common Spam Trigger Words
Spam filters primarily rely on two methods to determine whether an email is worthy of the recipient's attention. In addition to email blacklists, they also rely on detecting common key phrases associated with spam. There are hundreds of these overused phrases, and most of them are related to commonly spammed topics, such as weight loss, pyramid schemes and online pharmacies.
#8. Use Catchy Subject Lines
A great promotional email starts by making a good first impression with a compelling subject line. Subject lines should possess essential elements like curiosity, urgency, personalization, relevance and an irresistible offer. Some effective approaches include asking a compelling question, creating a sense of importance and making your target audience feel special.
#9. Personalize Your Content
Look at any typical spam email, and you'll find there's no attempt at personalization. Recipients are only interested in relevant content, so that means your emails need to exhibit an understanding of their target audiences. Personalization should go beyond addressing the subscriber by name alone to asking targeted questions and offering promotions based on things like wishlists and past purchases.
#10. Use a Double Opt-in
Signing up for an email newsletter should be a quick and simple affair, hence it usually only involves providing an email address. However, with a double opt-in, you can have new subscribers confirm their subscriptions by clicking on a link in a confirmation email. This process will help eliminate any email addresses that get entered incorrectly or by mistake.
#11. Get Removed from Blacklists
Blacklists play a core role in spam filtering. Nonetheless, even legitimate marketers may occasionally end up on a blacklist. You should always keep track of the major blacklists to ensure that your mailing address doesn't appear. If it does, then you'll need to follow the instructions on the list holder's website. Once you've made any necessary adjustments to your list-management practices, they should remove you.
#12. Use Consistent Branding
Thanks to the power of HTML, email is a powerful and highly versatile medium that allows practically endless customization. You should use this opportunity to ensure consistent branding throughout your marketing campaign. By using the same fonts, colors, logos and written tone in your emails as you use on your website and other promotional content, you'll be more familiar and more memorable to subscribers.
#13. Proofread and Proofread Again
One of the most common characteristics of spam emails is that they tend to be written in appalling English. In fact, a lot of spam is completely nonsensical due to being machine-generated. However, even the occasional spelling or grammar error is enough to damage your reputation by coming across as lazy and unprofessional. That's why every email newsletter should go through an editor before sending.
#14. Never Buy Mailing Lists
There's no end of reasons why you should never buy mailing lists and absolutely no reason why you should. You might think this approach is a cost-effective way to build a mailing list quickly, but all you'll end up with is a list of emails scraped off the web by spammers themselves. There's no such thing as a quality mailing list that's been purchased, and most respectable mailing platforms won't let you use them anyway.
#15. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe
As per the CAN-SPAM law in the US and similar legislation in many other countries, email marketing campaigns must provide a straightforward opt-out option. By law, you must include a working unsubscribe link in the footer of every promotional email you send. The CAN-SPAM law also requires that you honor opt-outs within no more than 10 days, although you should ideally do so immediately.
#16. Reconnect with Inactive Subscribers
According to HubSpot, email marketing databases degrade by an average of 22.5% every year. In other words, almost a quarter of your subscribers will lose interest in your email newsletters annually, but they won't necessarily unsubscribe. To maintain a healthy mailing list, you should launch regular re-engagement campaigns to learn how you can improve your emails or if subscribers would rather be removed entirely.
#17. Tone Down Colors and Fonts
While email newsletters should always be consistent with your branding, you should prioritize readability by using the right font sizes and using colored text very sparingly, if at all. Remember, that many people will also be reading your emails on mobile devices, so you'll want to make sure your newsletters look good on any screen size. For best results, use 22-24 points for the header and 14-16 for the body.
#18. Segment Your Mailing Lists
Unless your business caters only to a very specific audience, as is likely to be the case if you only sell a single product or service, it's usually wise to segment your mailing lists. By running multiple separate but centrally managed email campaigns, you'll be better equipped to personalize your content and ensure it gets sent to the right people. After all, irrelevant content is sure to end up in the spam box.
#19. Limit the Number of Links
Spam filters are always on high alert for emails that contain many links as well as those which include links to irrelevant websites. This happens because spammers often scatter links around their messages in the hope that someone will click on one of them. For best results, include just one link backed up by a strong call to action or include links accompanied by product pictures.
#20. Don't Include Attachments
Most phishing scams start with an email containing a link to a malicious website or an attachment containing malware. For this reason, no one wants to receive email attachments from senders they don't know, or they weren't expecting to hear from. If for some reason you do need to send something that can't be included in a standard HTML email, consider providing a link to the content hosted on your website.
None of the above ever guarantee that you'll always be able to avoid the spam filter, but following these tips will go a long way towards building a sustainable marketing campaign. Remember, above all, that a robust email strategy is about meaningful communication with the person who's reading your email. With that in mind, you should consider your campaign as an ongoing and constantly improving strategy.