The War on (Email) SPAM
Consumers today are in a perpetual state of battle with their email. For years, they have tried to prevent their inboxes from being overrun by an enemy that’s both ubiquitous and unavoidable – spam. Whether they are using their mobile devices, desktops or tablets, there’s no escape. Spam is everywhere. For many marketers, this poses an even bigger problem, as many campaigns become an unwilling casualty of war – marked as junk mail, even when they’re not. With spam filtering technology getting more sophisticated and ISPs setting stricter standards as time goes on, a looming problem becomes evident for legit marketers whose emails may get stuck.
This can be a real threat to the livelihood of any business that depends on email marketing to build customer relationships and drive sales.
So how do marketers protect themselves from being a casualty of the war against spam? Here are six easy steps that can help ensure their emails will make it across enemy lines, and into their customer’s inbox.
Follow the Law
While spam laws differ by country, they generally cover things like having a working opt-out link (and abiding by opt-out requests), including your physical contact information, and clearly labeling adult content or unsolicited advertisements. Whether they have previously shown an interest in your company or not, all potential customers have one thing in common: they do not want to be forced into anything. Including an opt-out link is of particular importance; making it easy to unsubscribe with a single click will keep your business away from many a spam report. Remember: spammers rarely give consumers an option. Don’t commit a war crime – get permission.
Say No to Outside Code
ISPs and advanced filtering technologies are on a mission to sniff out email ambushes that lead to viruses and insurgent emails. One way they do it is to look for sloppy code, which can happen sometimes if you use a program like Word that wasn’t meant to create emails. Keep your email code clean by building your message with the email marketing service’s default template creator (like Mailify’s EmailBuilder) or by hiring a professional who is experienced in email design and development specifically.
Use a Trusted Protector
Your email marketing provider plays an important part in keeping your messages out of the spam folder. Some platforms take extra steps to ensure the ISPs greenlight their messages, increasing deliverability through domain customization and auto authentication, hand-moderated campaigns, and more. Check with yours to find out how they’re defending your campaigns against wrongful spam filtering.
When it comes to the war on spam, looks are everything. Don’t overuse punctuation, dollar signs, or strangely formatted/colored text. Start with a creative and professional subject line to catch the attention of users and potential customers, without an obvious sales pitch or any words that could be considered spammy. Even accidentally leaving the word “Test” in your emails can send your message right to junk. Calls-to-action should be subtle and avoid overused words such as ‘free' or ‘buy' whenever possible.
Let Words Be Your Weapon
Sending one big image as the content of your email is going to raise a huge red flag. Balance images with content, and make sure to include a text version of your email along with the HTML format that’s consistent with the original.
Get to know your customers and the messaging that will best resonate with your readers. Personalize your emails to stay out of the email blast black hole. According to an Experian Marketing Services email marketing study, personalized emails deliver about six times higher transaction rates and see open rates of around 29 percent higher.
The battle between spam filters and spammers is brutal and never ending, and sometimes legitimate marketers get caught in the crossfire. At the end of the day, common sense can be the best defense: send high-quality, focused emails to subscribers that actually want to hear from you, and you’ll likely steer clear of being branded as spam. Spam may win a few battles, but you can make sure that as a marketer, you win the war.
Eric Krattenstein is the US CMO for Mailify, a leading email marketing app helping small businesses send more effective email marketing campaigns. Formerly the VP of Internet Marketing for a Digital Agency in NYC, Eric has helped dozens of businesses over the last several years create and implement impactful digital marketing strategies.