Every email client has a spam filter whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or even website specific ones through Roundcube, SquirrelMail, etc. As users of personal and business email addresses, we appreciate this filter to keep unwanted, dangerous, or otherwise spammy emails out of our inbox.
As a business owner or anyone interested in sending out emails to old or new clients and contacts, it’s a very different story. I’ve long talked about how lucrative email marketing is in every way possible. As such, as a business owner it’s paramount that your business related emails reach your subscribers.
Aside from not sending out spammy emails itself, here are the 4 keys to beat the spam filter.
Choose a Reputable Email Marketing Service Provider
This first one is pretty obvious, but choose a reputable email marketing service provider. This doesn’t have to be one of the biggest names in the business like MailChimp or Aweber, but go with someone who is established and has been around for quite some time.
Everything else about them aside, these are the companies which have a proven track record of getting their emails in their clients’ subscribers’ inboxes.
Just like a new business, email clients will be wary of email marketing companies which are brand new to the scene, and everything else being equal an established name will pass the spam filter where a new face on the block won’t.
Have Your Recipients Whitelist or Otherwise Add Your “From” Email Address to Their Contacts
Popular email clients like Gmail or Yahoo won’t label emails as spam if they come from an address which its user has explicitly stated as being trustworthy and an address they want to receive messages from.
The first thing I mention in the “Welcome” or “Opt-In” email for any new subscriber is to add me to their contacts/address book in their email client. I’ll open the email as saying “Thank you for subscribing to (my email list). Before we go any further, I ask that you add my email address to your contact list to ensure that my emails don’t mistakenly get labeled as spam.”
Just asking your new subscriber to do that often is all it takes to have them take that action. Odds are they signed up for your list in the first place because they value the content they believe they are going to be receiving. If you explicitly tell them there’s a chance that they might not receive the content they signed up for if they don’t take this action, then they’ll likely add you.
If possible, ask that your subscriber do the same thing before they even receive that first email. You likely can specify the URL a new subscriber is taken to or the message they are shown after signing up for your list. At this URL or in this message, ask them to add you to their contacts.
While many subscribers can’t be bothered to whitelist or add an email address to their contacts, remind them in the sign up URL/message or first email to check their spam folder for your messages if they don’t see it right away in their inbox.
Virtually any email client (again such as Gmail or Yahoo) will learn which addresses their users want to see messages from, and this will train that client to stop labeling it as spam and delivering it right to their inbox even if they don’t explicitly mark it as “not spam” right then and there.
DKIM and SPF Authentication
You can also create records on your hosting account which hosts the domain you are sending the emails from in question using information from your email marketing service provider. These records essentially connect the two accounts and prove to your email marketing service provider that you have control over the domain in question.
Your email marketing service provider then essentially tells Gmail, Yahoo, and virtually every other email service that your emails are coming from your domain and not someone who claims to have access to your domain.
The net effect of this is that your emails are far more likely to go into your subscribers’ inboxes. Conversely and just as importantly, any emails which spammers and scammers are trying to make like are coming from your domain will show that they haven’t been authenticated and will more likely go in the spam folder.
I talked about the relatively simple and very quick DKIM and SPF authentication process in full, so refer to that post/video on how to achieve that.
The final and most important key to beat the spam filter relates to your content itself. What you put in your emails is obviously the most important thing. You can learn a lot by subscribing to some of the big names in online marketing and paying attention to the formats of their emails. Virtually all of them use very simple text only email templates. If you have videos or images you want to share with your subscriber, link to them in the email which will bring them back to your site (which is typically the point anyway).
Bigger name companies, particularly online retailers, can get away with showing clickable image links in their emails because they have a long established history of being on their subscribers good sides. But as a relatively obscure smaller business or marketer, you don’t have that luxury so you have to play by the rules.
Fortunately the rules can play in your favor.
For instance, you don’t want the email to be too bloated, so using a teaser format which gets subscribers to click on links in your email to see the actual content is both a great way to get click-throughs but also ensure that you won’t end up in the spam folder.
You can limit how far to the right each line of text goes and keep your sentences shorter, as well, to improve readability. Just because you can’t be as varied with your content as you can in other environments doesn’t mean you can’t make it dynamic.
Keep these tips in mind to beat the spam filters of your users’ email services and ensure that your email gets in front of the eyes of your subscribers, just like you both intended.
And once again, it goes without saying but remember that if you are sending actually spammy emails then even if your subscribers see them, you won’t get the action or conversion you’re interested in.
So remember to avoid the spam yourself and always over-deliver to your audience while sprinkling in valuable, relevant offers from time to time to see the best response.