Email newsletters can be very beneficial in carrying out marketing campaigns. At the same time, however, like other email messages, they are subject to spam filters and this means they may fail to go through regardless of how useful the information within them may be. This can bring about quite damaging consequences to a business given that communication with customers and prospects can be greatly tampered with. In this regard, it’s important to be tactful in structuring such messages because the issue lies not just in the email content, but in the emailing lists and the sending process as well. While there are numerous ways through which marketers can deal with spam filters, it’s essential to first understand how these filters work.
Spam Filters – How Do They Work?
Of the over 140 billion emails sent every day, around 65% are comprised of spam which is filtered based on certain categories. Permission filters require the recipient to approve all mails, and unapproved mails are blocked. General blacklist filters blacklist known spammers, and rules-based filters work in such a manner that mails from particular senders or those with specific wording are blocked. The content and the header also play a major role when it comes to spam filtering and it is due to this filtering process that companies are able to block mails that are not business related. With this in mind, how can marketers beat spam filters?
Of all spam indicators in emails, spammy words and phrases are the most obvious. Mails with words and phrases such as ‘great offer’, ‘click here’, ‘free’, ‘order now’, ‘guarantee’, ‘special promotion’, ‘winner’, ‘increase sales’, and ‘unsubscribe’ are often considered as spam. Thus, it’s important to use such words carefully, and if possible, avoid them altogether. Where this is not achievable, a few paragraphs can be included and a relevant link given to direct the reader to a site with more elaborate information.
Phrases such as ‘Join us now’, ‘Try it now’, ‘Join us today’ and ‘Win great prizes’ are all too common in marketing messages. However, spam filters do not like them, and mails containing such phrases can be automatically directed to the junk folder rather than the recipient’s inbox. This therefore denotes that phrases which work in direct marketing may not be as useful in email marketing.
To get receivers to read their mails, some marketers may resort to using fake headers, addresses and email server names. Some also address the email to fictitious receivers for the same reasons. Doing so almost always guarantees having the mail flagged as spam since it is an indicator that the sender has no idea of who the recipient is. Therefore, when it comes to email marketing, the subject line and the sender have to be put out clearly so that the recipient is able to tell who the sender is and what the message is about in an instant.
It’s easy to create messages that are entirely made of images and while these may seem appealing to both the sender and receiver, it doesn’t sit well with spam filters. Spammers are known to be fond of giant graphics because they don’t have time to come up with meaningful information – it’s too much of a hassle for them. So, it’s best to make use of simple graphics and also try to create a balance between the text and the messages.
Email senders can use the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to safeguard against spammers who may use their servers to send spam email while making the messages look like they are from a legitimate sender. SPF employs Sender Authentication Protocols which deal with issues of email sender identity forgery by scanning through the content in the header and the message body. By getting protected against this sort of threat, the chances of being included in a spam blacklist are lowered.
Avoid Anything Spammy
A marketer can spend a lot of time writing, designing and coding newsletters, but if these end up getting trapped in a recipients spam folder, it will only amount to a great waste of time. Thus, to get the messages read, the best thing to do is to avoid including anything spammy in the email. Providing useful information in a clear and concise manner and following all the anti-spamming rules is always the best way to go.
Here are the other mistakes that email marketers need to avoid in to evade the spam filters:
• Excessive use of exclamation marks (!)
• Writing everything in CAPS
• Highlighting the font in bright colours
• Trying to be tricky with the characters (h3llo, l@@k)
• Leaving too many gaps or white spaces
• Starting the subject with a dollar amount
• Trying to make the text invisible by using the same font colour as the background
How to Tell If a Message Will Be Filtered Out
Spam filters do not work in the same manner, meaning there are different ways to tell whether a particular message will be filtered or not. Nonetheless, one of the things that has to be assessed is a low open rate for the message. At such times, the problem may just be that no one is getting the mail. Also, sometimes users may request to be sent information that they are supposed to have already received and, in other cases, filters may simply bounce the mail. Whenever this happens, it’s essential to figure out the reason for the bounce messages before sending out more mails.
To be sure to send accurate emails, marketers can get their email content scanned in advance using any of the spam checker tools available online. These tools detect and display the spammy elements that hinder delivery of a message, and the test may take a few minutes or a whole day depending on the content and the software used. Regardless of that, using these tools is a sure way to save on both time and money, two aspects which are very significant in business.