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Inbound Marketing Blog

    The 18 Commandments of Avoiding Spam Filters?

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    Easy Email Marketing Tips


    Turns out, all those invitations to help a Nigerian Prince transfer some cash are no joke. As of August 2012, fighting email spam cost American consumers and corporations about $20 billion annually. Filters on major email platforms are continually becoming more effective at keeping every unsolicited offer for diet pills out of our personal inboxes. In fact, they're so effective that marketing messages your contacts might not end up in the inbox if they include the word "free!" Every small business owner and inbound marketer needs to know at least the basics of how to avoid getting caught by a spam filter:

    1. Don't Buy Email Lists

    While purchasing lists of names and emails who've agreed to receive commercial offers isn't technically illegal, it's not an especially prudent move. Since the senders never really opted into your communications, your open rate, click-throughs and sender score are likely to plummet. 

    2. DON'T WRITE LIKE THIS!!!!!

    Being aggressive is much more likely to annoy your contacts than increase your open rate. Not only are aggressive tactics contrary to a smart inbound marketing strategy, spam filters don't like them, either.

    3. Don't Forget Alt Text

    You should anticipate that not all of your contacts will be able to view the carefully-selected images you're including in the emails and write thoughtful descriptions that support the overall message.

    4. Do Avoid Trigger Words

    Free and it's common variations, no obligation and guarantee can all be viewed suspiciously by spam filters, whether they're used in the subject line of the email or in the body. 

    5. Do Spell Check

    Errors in your content aren't just embarrassing and sure to be pointed out by someone on your contacts list, they're a touchy point for many platforms. Misspellings of common words will be viewed with caution and the message might not end up in the recipients' inboxes.

    6. Don't Utilize SEO

    Yes, we've heard the breaking news that personal emails from your Gmail account are going to start showing up in Google search results. That doesn't mean you should revert to keyword stuffing, using a font that matches the background or other black hat SEO practices. If the copy doesn't make sense to a human, it could hurt your sender score. 

    7. Do Remove Invalid Emails

    Make a point or removing all hard bounces as soon as possible, defined as attempted deliveries that have failed permanently. An abandoned or closed email account offers no contribution to your bottom line, and a high failure rate can damage your sender score.

    8. Don't Use Attachments

    Even if you're feeling charitable enough to share your latest whitepaper or eBook with a certain segment of your email list, don't bite. Put a prominently-placed call-to-action in your emails, and direct your contacts back to your website to take advantage of the offer.

    9. Do Offer Unsubscribes

    Have some of your contacts been awfully quiet lately? Have they been ignoring your awesome invitations to sales, savings opportunities and brand-new eBooks? Offer them an opportunity to make a clean break and leave your email list. Remember, it's always better to lose subscribers than risk being marked as spam.

    10. Don't Forget to Confirm Opt-Ins.

    The harder your subscribers have to work to receive your exclusive communications, the more likely they are to want to read your content. After you receive a new email address, ask the new subscriber to confirm their interest. Sure, it may decrease your list growth slightly, but you're almost guaranteed to have better engagement.

    11. Just Ask to Be Added

    Even if you're far from a spammer, you could still end up in a spam folder. It's a sad truth for email marketers that spam filters are more effective than ever. Just ask your contacts to add your email to their contacts list.

    12. Don't Make Unsubscribing Difficult

    Don't obscure the unsubscribe link or require your contacts to complete a long survey or form before removing their email addresses. 

    13. Use a Real Name

    Marketing people enjoy is often personal and more human than corporate. Add some personality and trust to your communications by sending under the name of a real employee, whether it's your CEO or Graphic Designer. 

    14. Don't Be Too Long-Winded

    Experts estimate that 400 words is probably ideal for email marketing communications. Keep it short and sweet enough that your call-to-action is above the fold. Besides, extensive copy can also be a trigger for spam filters.  

    15. Do Experiment

    Before you do a mass-mailing, send emails to common email platforms to ensure nothing is lost in translation. Email spam filters can have varying levels of sensitivity, and you may need to make some tweaks before sending to an entire segment. 

    16. Do Check Your Sender Score

    83% of the time an email doesn't reach an inbox, it's caused by a poor sender score. Learn how to interpret your score and register with ReturnPath to check it on a regular basis. 

    17. Do Remove Unsubscribed Contacts

    Complying with requests to unsubscribe from your communications isn't just a smart move, it's the law! 

    18. Don't Stop Learning!

    The laws and technology surrounding email marketing are continually changing, and there's just no excuse to stop learning how to avoid tripping spam filters or worse, breaking the law. We recommend expert blog The Email Skinny as a reputable resource for your RSS feeds.

    How Do You Avoid Being Caught in Spam Traps?

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    Image Credit: © Werg | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

    Topics: Inbound Marketing