There are a few wrong steps you can take that will cause your newsletters to land in spam folders rather than inboxes. Following a few basic rules of email marketing will add to your reputation as a trusted sender and avoid these problems.
Here are 10 things you can do to help make sure that your messages end up where you want them to be.
1. Get consent
Having the relevant consent to receive messages from you and the safe storage of personal data are the foundations of effective email marketing. Don’t send your newsletter to anyone who did not sign up to your subscriber list and give consent to receive electronic messages from you. In addition to being unethical and illegal, it irritates the recipient, who can then mark your message as spam in retaliation.
2. Use the Double-Opt In model
Always ask new subscribers to confirm their address in order to be sure that the address used on your sign-up form is correct and active. If you do not ask for such confirmation, you are potentially making your subscriber database weaker by adding addresses that can bounce immediately and bring no value to you.
3. Always include a resignation link
It’s only natural that people change their minds sometimes regarding the messages they want to get so don’t be so naive as to think that every new subscriber will stay with you forever. It’s in your interest to let people who are no longer interested in your offers remove themselves from your mailing list, since it doesn’t make any sense for you to keep trying to talk to someone who isn’t listening. This is why you should always add a visible resignation link to every message that you send. Failure to do this is another invitation for angry recipients to label your email as spam.
4. Don’t send campaigns to old mailing lists
Over the course of a year, it’s not unusual for even 20% of the addresses in your database to become inactive. Inboxes fill up, people change jobs and simply open new addresses using other email service providers. These inactive addresses can become spam traps that are used to identify and block senders that send commercial mail without the consent of recipients. While detecting spam traps can be difficult using a spam trap checker may help avoid some harmful emails. Do everything you can to keep your database up to date and get rid of old and unresponsive addresses.
5. Don’t buy databases
This is always a bad idea for a lot of reasons. First of all, you have no idea about the quality of the database you are getting but it’s safe to assume that it will be very low. Sending newsletters to addresses that are inactive, addresses that are likely to bounce, and to recipients who never consented to get information from you (and probably have no idea who you are) is not a recipe for success. Don't think you can just use an online bulk validator and that will help. While email validation is a great tool its intended for lists that already have consent. Anyone who does get a message from you is likely to mark it as spam, which is even worse since the more such black marks you get, the more likely your future messages will get directed to spam folders.
6. Use an easily identifiable sender address
Sender addresses should permit recipients to quickly and easily identify the source of the message. It’s obvious that they need to know who is writing to them. Otherwise, they will be inclined to treat the message as spam or some kind of harassment and ignore it. It’s best if it is the same as the reply address. Don’t use addresses that no one can reply to like firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Don’t use...
Don’t use all caps, lots of exclamation points or similar things associated with spam. Antispam filters scan the texts of messages and detect the overuse of caps or fonts that are too large or too small. The same applies to texts that have too many exclamation points or question marks. Avoid obvious words like “sex”, “porn”, “viagra” but also be careful with “free”, “click here” “bonus”, etc.
8. Personalize messages
Using their own algorithms, antispam filters analyze the number of identical messages sent from one address. An excessive number will likely cause the message to be labeled as spam. Personalizing messages so that there are variations and distinctions between one newsletter and another avoids this problem.
9. Don’t send large graphics
Messages that are too large because of graphics they contain will get directed to spam folders. Make sure your newsletter is no larger than 50 or 60 kB. To make its chances of getting properly delivered even better, divide graphic elements into parts. Remember to keep an appropriate ratio of text to graphics and not to place a single picture in your newsletter. Also, avoid loading your message down with lots of attachment or, even better, don’t use them at all.
10. Test your newsletter design
To be sure that your message gets delivered to user inboxes and doesn’t get flagged by spam filters, always send a test message to your own account as part of a testing process. You can also take advantage of dedicated tools that alert you to potential spam problems before you send your message, like SpamAssassin. Use them to fix problems and help your message reach its intended audience instead of landing in spam folders.
Joanna Pietryka, Content Manager at FreshMail, an email marketing service provider. Joanna’s task is to build constructive relations with the e-community as a FreshMail Content Manager. She is a graduate of Journalism school with an emphasis on social communication, so writing about public affairs is her specialty.
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