Getting emails past the spam filters can be a challenge for small to medium sized businesses (SMB’s). In the attempt to the recipient’s attention, you can easily be trapped by the spam filters of the people you are trying to reach. All the hard work you put into crafting an email can be wasted by a few seemingly minor mistakes.
The balance between art and science is not easy until you learn what the spam filters consider in their rating system.
Here are five good habits to keep your open rates high:
Spammy words or phrases are a big culprit:
It is tempting to use these words to promote your latest offers, but the spam filters (and sometimes the recipient) will be suspicious. Make both the subject line and the content friendly and informative. When it appears to be hype, it is less likely to be read.
Keep these words out of your subject line and the body of your content: sex, diet, debt, earn, win, cash, guaranteed, become an expert, limited time only, act now, winner, credit, click…or anything else you wouldn’t say to your best customer.
Don’t use ALL CAPS or a lot of punctuation!!! It looks like screaming and no one likes to respond to your screams. A lot of the tricks learned in the direct marketing copywriting world will get you in trouble. Don’t try to disguise smammy words with symbols like CA$H or S3X. The spam filters will catch it and the reader will think you are an idiot.
Avoid naked emails:
Don’t send an email that is just one giant graphic. Instead, balance the content with text and graphics. If you have too many images and not enough text, it is simply not considered good content.
If you are sending a simple invitation or promotion with a single graphic, at least include text below the graphic with such things as your address; unsubscribe text or instructions about what to do if the graphic does not load properly.
Offer a plain text version:
Include a plain text version as an alternative to your HTML email. It is best if the plain text is very similar to the HTML version. If the plain text only tells them to visit a URL to view the message in a browser, it just looks a bit lazy. Besides, when the spam filters see the email is 95% HTML and 5% text, it looks fishy and unprofessional.
Learn about anti-spam software:
Visit some of the popular spam software programs, like Spam Assassin to learn all the things you might inadvertently do to get marks against your email.
Don’t use sloppy HTML code:
Keep your code clean. Take the time needed to set up the HTML code properly. Broken images and missing tags simply make you look careless. Never use Microsoft Word to generate your code. In fact, some spam filters will penalize you for using Microsoft Front Page for coding. Spend the time needed to learn and use HTML properly…or hire someone to do it for you.
Don’t become paranoid about this issue. Spam filters are sophisticated algorithms that are realistic about email. The system will assign penalties based on a point system. For example, a single use of “Click Here!” might give you about a half point against you each time it is used. While a single word “VIAGRA” will earn you 4 points. When the tally is added up, they block emails that breach a specified threshold they have categorized as “spam”.
You can avoid decreasing your open rate because of spam filters if you remember that you are doing business with people and want to have a relationship with them based on trust. Use email language and practices that respect the relationship.