A Marketer's Guide to Getting Past Email Spam Filters

by Corey Eridon

Date

January 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM

email inboxMarketers spend a lot of time drafting poignant email copy, designing wonderfully branded email templates, and crafting succinct and enticing email subject lines that get open and click-through rates skyrocketing. But before hitting send, have you considered if your subscribers will even get the opportunity to read your email?

No matter how legitimate of an email marketer you are, there are a host of things you may not even know about that can prevent your email from ever reaching someone's inbox. And with more stringent laws and increasingly sophisticated spam filters, it's to your benefit to know everything that can affect your email's deliverability.

If steering clear of legal trouble isn't enough to convince you, squeezing more ROI out of your email marketing efforts certainly should. Take a look at the things you should absolutely never do in your email marketing if you want your messages to be successfully delivered, and the things you can proactively do to increase your rate of email deliverability.

14 Things Not to Do If You Want Your Emails to Land in Inboxes

1.) Don't buy or rent lists. Yes, you can legally purchase lists of people who have agreed to email communications, but they aren't likely to actually want your emails, increasing the likelihood they will mark you as spam.

2.) Don't scrape sites for email addresses. This is always illegal.

3.) Don't use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line.

4.) Don't use video, Flash, or javascript within your email.

5.) Don't forget to include alt text in emails with images so they can be easily read by all email clients.

6.) Don't embed forms in your emails; send recipients to a landing page on your site instead.

7.) Don't use spam trigger words like "free," "guarantee," and "no obligation" in your subject line or email body. A good rule of thumb is, if it sounds like something a used car salesman would say, it's probably a spam trigger word.

8.) Don't use a red font when drafting your email. And not that a legitimate email marketer would, but also refrain from using a white font on top of a white background.

9.) Don't use exclamation points!!!!!

10.) Don't forget to use spell check; misspellings are yet another spam indicator in your email copy.

11.) Don't jam pack your email copy with keywords.

12.) Don't use tons of images, or very large images. And remember, all images should have associated alt text!

13.) Don't email people who have bounced repeatedly; it can cause your IP address to be blacklisted.

14.) Don't include attachments to your emails. Just as with landing pages, send recipients to a page on your site to download whatever it is you want to send.

15 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Email Deliverability Rate

1.) Do reach out to inactive subscribers to see if they still want to be included on your list; doing so decreases the likelihood that they'll flag you as spam and keeps your list current clean.

2.) Do ask for feedback from your inactive or infrequently active subscribers to see if you can re-engage them.

3.) Do use double opt-in. This means after someone subscribes, you should send them an email with a confirmation link ensuring they want to receive email communications from you.

4.) Do ask your subscribers to white list you. Spam filters are more aggressive than ever, and sometimes email people value still end up in spam boxes. By asking your subscribers to add you to their address book, it tells spam filters to back off.

5.) Do include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address in your email footer.

6.) Do use a familiar sender name to decrease the likelihood recipients won’t recognize you in their inbox.

7.) Do include your recipient’s name in the To: field so spam filters know that you do, indeed, know your recipient.

8.) Do offer both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails; it’s not only an indicator of legitimacy to ISPs, but it also makes your emails more reader friendly.

9.) Do keep emails short; too much copy is another red flag for spam filters.

10.) Do include the date somewhere in the body of your email to show your message is current.

11.) Do test emails you send with the email clients your subscribers use to ensure they deliver successfully to all of them.

12.) Do get email sender accreditation from a third party so ISPs know you are a trusted sender.

13.) Do monitor your sender reputation. DNSstuff.com lets you check on whether you are a blacklisted sender, something many unlucky email marketers aren't even aware of.

14.) Do honor unsubscribes; it’s not only good for you as a self-scrubbing mechanism, but it’s also illegal not to.

15.) Do stay up to date on changes in email sending laws, ISP behavior, and spam filter technology. Email marketing is constantly evolving, and staying in the know helps ensure you’re always following best practices (and the law!).

What other techniques not included on this list do you use to increase your rate of email deliverability?

Image credit: card karma

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