Avoiding the Dreaded Spam Filter

Mitch Tarr

No one wants to be labelled as a spammer.

Roughly 1 in 6 emails get sent to spam or blocked from inboxes altogether. If you’re using email to drive sales (which you should be), that one message that doesn’t make it through could be a big loss for your business. But the line between marketing and spamming is woefully thin, and your brand’s reputation depends on which side it falls on.

What Is Spamming?

Email spamming is sending unsolicited email to a large number of recipients. While you might get a sale or two with this type of email marketing, you are more likely to annoy recipients and risk them deleting your messages and reporting you as a spammer.

Here are some practical tips for avoiding the spam category:

The List

Develop a list.

Build a solid list of engaged recipients by adding a subscribe form to your website that allows people to join your list and receive information from you. Often, people subscribe for email newsletters, product updates, free courses, and news blasts. If you think it’s appropriate, you can even consider emailing your subscribers personally with a request for whitelisting your domain. This will keep your emails from getting classified as spam.

Make unsubscribing easy.

You never want it to feel like you’re forcing your subscribers’ hands, which is why it’s important to provide them with an easy way out. Start by including a confirmation link in the welcome email you send to individuals who first join your list. This way, anyone who subscribed without meaning to can opt out right away. It’s also wise to include instructions for unsubscribing in every email so that your readers feel a sense of transparency. Lastly, you can use these unsubscribes as an opportunity to evolve your strategy by sending an exit survey to anyone who opts out of your list.

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The Content

Only send useful information.

Even list subscribers expect you to limit your contact to valuable information. Before you send an email marketing message, evaluate whether a subscriber will have an interest in the information. For example, your prospects might be interested in reading about new products or sales and industry news, but they probably won’t want to read irrelevant personal stories or receive ads for unrelated products and services. The same goes for holidays – themed promotions are great, but keep in mind that not all of them make sense for your subscribers.

Be strategic.

You are more likely to meet your email marketing goals if your prospects don’t feel harassed by constant contact from you. As a best practice, avoid emailing your list more than twice per week. You can also optimize the content of your emails to set them up for success. HTML often ends up getting categorized as spam, so be mindful of your image-to-text ration. Including two lines of text for every graphic is a general email marketing best practice. Lastly, avoid trigger words that are commonly recognized by spam filters trying to block commercial promotions.

The Details

Focus on engagement.

Sendings with low open or read rates are more likely to be flagged as spam. Therefore, the best way to avoid the spam category is to focus on engagement. Some best practices for supporting your brand’s engagement numbers are to segment your audience to achieve more effective targeting and to keep your email list fresh by scrubbing your inactive subscribers regularly. Finally, your “from” label and email address are crucial for establishing trust. Use an individual or company name in your “from” field consistently that your readers will recognize and remember.

Keep design consistent.

Not surprisingly, the reason people flag emails as spam is because they don’t recognize or remember you. If it’s been a while since they joined your list, it’s especially likely that they don’t recall when or why they signed up. Use branding as a tool for making your emails memorable and consistent. Make sure your logo is visible, your website is hyperlinked, and your design is uniform across channels.

In Summary...

Avoiding the spam box is all about delivering valuable and relevant content. If you want to take your efforts even further, you could utilize an online or paid spam checker. Or, you could work with an agency that knows what they’re doing. Get in touch with us – we’d be happy to help to figure out what’s right for your business.

Mitch Tarr President ZinMarketing

About The Author

Mitch Tarr is the author of Email Marketing Mastery: Accelerate Your Business Using Email Marketing.