Stay Out of the Spam Folder: Five Essential Tips

When your business depends on email marketing, one of the worst fates that your messages can endure is to be relegated to the spam folder. If things get bad, you end up unable to escape from your readers’ junk mail folder and your message never gets opened. If things get worse, your messages are filtered by ISPs before your customers get a chance to see them. If things get indescribably bad, you can be prevented from delivering messages to even your most your loyal customers.

Falling afoul of the rules that regulate spam can cripple your business, but it is not so hard to stay on the right side of the filters and away from the blacklists if you keep five simple suggestions in mind.

  1. Watch your language. The enormous volume of email means that all screening is automated. As a result, spam filters are sensitive to certain words and certain styles. Avoid sending messages that have subject lines or content that is formatted exclusively in upper case or that is loaded with exclamation marks. Be aware of the words that are associated with spam and stay away from words that trigger the filters. It can be dangerous to guess at the words that cause problems. That means that you have to be aware of those troublesome words, especially because many of them have a place in legitimate email. Words to avoid include discount, bonus, free, guaranty, prize and bonus, but the list is long and ever-changing.
  2. Keep your lists current. Email providers keep track of messages that are bounced from dead accounts and those undeliverable messages count against you. Keep track of the messages that are not getting through and analyze your list to find recipients who have not responded to you within the past year or six months. Prune that list so that you are sending to real, active addresses only.
  3. Honor your unsubscribers. One of the fastest routes to the ISP spam bin is generating large numbers of complaints from recipients. A simple click on the “report spam” button is all it takes to give you a black mark. To avoid this, make it easy for your recipients to unsubscribe from your mailings. Provide a clear “unsubscribe” link in every email and take prompt action to remove those unsubscribers from your list.
  4. Put yourself to the test. Before sending mail to a list, send a few test messages and see what happens. Test the big providers like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail, and include a couple of messages that will be received by the Outlook mail client. If there are problems, you will have a chance to make corrections before sending en masse.
  5. Go slowly. Instead of sending to the whole list at once, break the list into smaller groups and send messages in stages. At the very least, this means that ISPs will not be bombarded with enormous blocks of spam reports simultaneously. This strategy also allows you to make adjustments as you go forward.

Finally, take a good look at your message from the recipient’s perspective. Is the message useful? Does it provide valuable information? If that message found its way into your inbox, would you be happy to see it there? An objective assessment of your own campaign can be your best friend if you want to avoid the spam graveyard.

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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