Avoiding the SPAM Folder: How to Spot It & How to Stop It 3/4
If you are anything like our team at Sendlane, you want to spend as much time as possible dreaming up new ideas & creating awesome content. You spend as little time as possible thinking about how to make sure it lands in the right place that means hitting the inbox & avoiding the spam folder.
But the hard truth is that any marketer worth their salt should think about it. Understanding what makes emails hit your recipient’s inbox instead of their spam folder is vital. It could help you maximize the open, click-thru & sales conversion rates for emails marketing campaigns.
Words like “spam,” “phishing” & “xx” may seem like daunting concepts to understand when all you want to do is make sure everyone see those emails you spent hours designing & writing. So let’s start at the beginning. By getting a handle on a few key aspects of how your inbox protects itself & avoiding the spam filter, you will be able to send every email with confidence that it’ll reach your audience.
While real-life Spam is pretty awful, digital spam is equally as undesirable, specially for email marketers. In fact email spam got its name from the (in)famous spiced meat after a Monty Python sketch. What we commonly refer to as junk mail, email spamming has increased since the early 1990’s. Right around the time that beanie babies & pagers really hit their stride. This has led to stricter guidelines around commercial email & the advent of the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003.
First and foremost, spam filters are necessary because they protect recipients. Email providers like Gmail, Outlook & Yahoo (okay even Hotmail too, if we are still talking about the 90s) use spam filters to analyze each incoming email. This filters out or outright deletes the ones that seem phishy.
While it may seem like an unnecessary pain to deal with spam filters in your email marketing, they exist to the benefit of your business! They keep the bad emails from coming in so that your awesome emails do not get lost in all the muck.
How do spam filters work?
In the internet-wide travels of your email, it goes through four phases before ultimately achieving its desired goal. The aim of course is a sale, a sign-up or even only a new visitor to your website. Before any of that can happen, your email has to be sent, delivered, opened & clicked. The trusty spam filter lives right in between the sending & the delivering.
When email providers first started monitoring for spam, they could do was look for certain phrases / trigger words – like “no purchase necessary” or “earn extra cash fast.” But as spammers got clever so did they & now the big names like Google. Now they can determine if something is junk mail by looking at the past behavior of the recipient.
- How often the recipient opens the same type of email
- How often the recipient replies the same type email
- How often the recipient moves the same type of email into / out of their junk mail folder
- How often the recipient deletes the same type of email without opening it
- If the recipient adds a sender to their address book
Providers begin to learn how to filter incoming messages to help users focus on what will be important to them & ignore everything else.
How to Get Through the Spam Filter
So if email providers are determining what is worth reading before it even lands in desired recipient’s inbox, how do you get there? How do you break past that spam filter to ensure your email is delivered, opened & ultimately, clicked?
- Know the Law
When it comes to avoiding the spam folder, first & foremost, ensure you understand best practices around the CAN-SPAM Act. Understanding what is & isn’t allowed will help you know what you can and cannot send. You can visit the the Federal Trade Commission’s website for a full guide (or Wikipedia works too), but here are 3 quick tips to help you get started:
- DO include your mailing address on each email message. Your real-life, USPS designated, physical mailbox address.
- DO NOT try to get away with headers, subject lines or any other language that aren’t true. Lying is bad all the time, but telling someone that they can list 5 pounds in 5 minutes is only plain illegal.
- DO make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your email distribution list. Each email has to have an unsubscribe link that stays active for 30 days. In addition, these who opt-out have to be removed from your list within 10 days.
- Always Ask Permission
Speaking of honoring that unsubscribe button, you must ask permission before you send an email to anyone. If you are worried about getting permission, use Sendlane’s double opt-in option. That means that when a user clicks to sign up for your distribution list they will also get an email to confirm their subscription. We have all received these emails. Don’t think you’ll annoy people by doing it. If anything, they will probably thank you!
And also – DO NOT PURCHASE YOUR LISTS. It’s expensive and extremely deceptive. In the long run it’ll be way more trouble than it’s worth.
- Segment for Success
Break up your list to send relevant emails & targeted campaigns based on your recipient’s location, age / other key demographics. Experiment with different subject lines / email content for different groups of people. See what people respond to best based on where they live, what they are interested in / what challenges are unique to them. Not only will this help you get a higher return on your email delivery & open rates, it’ll keep you safe from spam filters with content that is truly relevant to your desired audiences.
We love the 2 versions of this same marketing email – one’s for him & one’s for her, but both are bound to hit the sweet spot with its intended audiences!
- Make Good Content
It may seem like a no-brainer to make content that your recipients will actually want to read. However, writing good content can help keep you out of the junk mail folder too! If people are ready & waiting for your next email because it is full of stuff they want, it’s a sure bet that you will make it past their spam filter. A few good rules of thumb:
- Keep your writing simple & to the point. Avoid spammy phrases like “act now,” “as seen on” and “for a limited time.” Here is an exhaustive list of trigger words to avoid but basically, if you heard it on an infomercial, do not use it.
- Create well-designed email templates & use professional formatting. Enough with ALL CAPS & long lines of exclamation points, please!!!!!!!!!!
- Balance images and links with text. 10 images in a 2 sentence email or a 25 word message with 20 linked words will definitely get sent to junk mail.
- Sweat the Small Stuff
Before you send an email, take a few minutes to make sure you’ve dotted all your i’s & crossed all your t’s. A few things to remember include:
- A catchy subject line.
- A real person’s name in the “From” line – preferably one that recipients will suggest.
- An actual reply-to address – using an address like “don’firstname.lastname@example.org” is spammy. It also cuts you off from your audiences selfishly shutting down the lines of communication.
- Descriptive text for links rather than the long URL – instead of https://www.mylinkspage.com/tai-lopez-social-media-marketing-agency-review/
While protecting from spam filters could never be the main priority when designing email marketing campaigns, understanding the best practices can have a Great impact on their success. With these handy tips & by taking just a few extra minutes to make sure every email is optimized for delivery, your email marketing success can grow!