Of the many forms of digital marketing, email offers by far the most attractive return on investment. Nonetheless, while successful marketers go to great lengths to craft top-quality email copy, others fall foul of spam filters. However, these tips will help you improve your campaign and get those click-through rates on the rise.
#1. Never Buy Mailing Lists
If there's one thing that almost all spammers have in common, it's that they always buy their mailing lists instead of making the effort to build a quality one. There are many reasons why you should never buy mailing lists, with the most important being that the people on the list won't even know you and probably aren't interested either.
#2. Avoid Common Spam Words
Spam trigger words are key words and phrases that are commonly associated with spam emails. There are hundreds of these words, but most of them should be obvious to anyone who has ever spent any time looking through their own spam folders.
#3. Don't Use Excessive Capitals
Just like in instant messages and social media posts, writing everything in capital letters is akin to shouting. It's rude and annoying, and a common characteristic of subject lines in spam emails. Instead, only use capital letters where they're meant to be used, such as in names and titles.
#4. Personalize Your Content
No one is going to respond to an email that's promoting a product or services that's completely irrelevant to them. That's why you should always personalize your content so that it means something to its intended audience. You should also address your recipient by name, lest it look like a cold email.
#5. Include an Unsubscribe Link
The law requires all email marketers to include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every promotional email. A lot of people don't bother using it, but it does at least demonstrate to both spam filters and the law itself that you're trying to maintain a clean mailing list.
#6. Don't Mask Your Identity
It should be immediately obvious to your recipients who you are. Making any attempt to mask your identity, no matter how innocuous you might think it may look, is sure to arouse suspicion. In fact, most senders who try to mask their identities are social engineering scammers.
#7. Choose a Good Service Provider
You might be tempted to opt for an extremely cheap email marketing provider, particularly one who will let you use purchased mailing lists, but such an approach is destined to fail. Always choose a reputable vendor who can help you set your campaign up for long-term success.
#8. Avoid the Blacklists
Even the most successful email marketers end up falling foul of the spam filter on occasion. For example, some impatient recipients will flag any unwanted email as spam, even if they previously opted in to the mailing list. Nonetheless, if this starts happening too often, you might end up on a blacklist.
#9. Use A/B Testing
A/B testing is one of the most effective marketing methods of all. By sending out two different promotional emails in parallel, you can find out which one is the most effective. You can then repeat the process as many times as you like until you find the approach that works best.
#10. Track Important Metrics
You can't possibly expect to run a successful email campaign and avoid the spam filters if you're not tirelessly tracking important metrics, such as click-through rates, open rates and forwards. Any respectable email marketing platform should provide these insights into the performance of your campaigns.
#11. Clean Your Mailing Lists
Regularly cleaning up your mailing lists will help you maintain their value and keep clear of people who aren't interested in hearing from you. You can also reconnect with dormant subscribers and remove those who haven't responded before. It takes an ongoing effort to keep a clean mailing list, but it will become an invaluable asset.
#12. Understand How Filters Work
Spam filtering algorithms are getting more advanced all the time, so it pays to stay familiar with how they work and which blacklists are currently the most widely used. By constantly learning and adapting, you'll be able to keep ahead of technological changes and changing consumer behavior.
#13. Get Yourself off the Blacklists
You should always keep a close eye on the major blacklists as well as the policies that govern them. If you can convince one of the blacklist providers that you've mended your ways as per their standards, they will likely be willing to remove your mailing address.
#14. Stay Familiar with the Law
Spam email has become an enormous problem all over the globe, and it costs billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. That's why the law is often changing to counteract new and emerging threats. By staying familiar with new legislation, you'll be better able to protect your brand and avoid the spam filters.
#15. Use Correct Spelling and Grammar
Take a brief look in your own spam email folder, and chances are, you'll find plenty of subject lines that look like they've been run through a machine translator or worse. Many spammers do not have a good command of the English language, hence poor spelling and grammar is a common characteristic of junk mail.
#16. Reengage with Dormant Subscribers
Dormant subscribers are people on your mailing list who haven't responded to your emails for some time. Although they might have flagged your emails as spam rather than unsubscribed, you should still try to reach out to them to find out if they still want to be on your mailing list. If they still don't respond, remove them.
#17. Respect Your Unsubscribes
If you keep sending promotional emails to people who have already unsubscribed, you're almost certain to end up having your content flagged as spam. Make a habit of it, and you may even end up on the blacklists. Always make sure you honor your unsubscribes to avoid getting into trouble.
#18. Always Ask for Permission...
Email marketing is meant to be permission-based. For the most part, spam is characterized as promotional emails that are sent to people who haven't given their permission. Not asking for permission before sending promotional content is also against the law in the US and most other jurisdictions.
#19. ...And Ask Again
A double-opt in procedure helps to build and maintain a high-quality mailing list while also helping you make doubly sure that you're staying on the right side of the law. Always seek express permission from your recipients by asking them to confirm their new subscriptions, such as by clicking a confirmation link in an email.
#20. Write Compelling Subject Lines
First impressions mean a great deal in the world of marketing, so writing compelling subject lines is crucial for increasing open rates. A great subject line should be short and concise, transparent and enticing. Being original and memorable trumps relying on overused words like 'free', 'urgent' or 'percent off', which are often used in spam.
#21. Be Wary of Rich Media
Most email clients and web-based accounts support a variety of rich media, but there are some formats you should avoid. For example, Flash content and embedded videos are not widely supported. If content doesn't display properly, your emails will look messy and unprofessional and, consequently, more like spam.
#22. Brand Your Emails
All email newsletters should be branded in a way that's consistent with the style you use on your website and other promotional materials. That way, your recipients will be more likely to recognize and remember your emails. By contrast, most spam tends to look generic, usually because it doesn't come from a legitimate company.
#23. Don't Make False Promises
One of the most common characteristics of spam email is a subject line that does not align with what you offer in the email itself. Vague or inaccurate subject lines tend to be manipulative and misleading, and are sure to increase the number of times your emails get flagged as spam.
#24. Avoid Including Attachments
When it comes to promotional emails, attachments of almost any kind are almost sure to alert the spam filters. They also increase the size of your email, thus making them take longer to load. Additionally, no one wants to receive attachments from an unknown sender, since it's usually only scammers who do that.
#25. Moderate Use of Fonts and Colors
The fonts and colors you use are an important part of any branding, but that doesn't mean you should overuse them. Instead, be sure to keep the layout and appearance of your emails consistent with your website. Ideally, you should stick to using a single typeface and font size, and use different text colors sparingly, if at all.
Conclusion - Don't Spam!
While there's no such thing as a magic formula to ensure your emails don't end up in the spam folder, taking steps to build a quality mailing list of people who look forward to hearing from you will go a long way. After all, compelling content that's useful to its intended audience is very unlikely to be flagged so, in conclusion, just don't spam!