If you're beginning an email program or you've been sending email already but know that your emails are going to your recipients'junk folders, Comm100 explains how to improve email deliverability. In this article, you'll learn how to optimize your email program to give it the best chance of making into a user's inbox. This process is called "deliverability" and is the first step to successful email marketing.
How to Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder?
One of the greatest problems facing email marketers is making sure that your email goes to the user's inbox instead of going to junk folder. When everything is driven by whether a user opens an email, that means that the user needs to actually SEE the email first. In truth, how many of us check our junk or spam folders regularly?
Avoiding your emails going to junk folder is one of the most complicated parts of Email Marketing (and the part that fails the most often). Here are ten tips to keep your emails getting into the inbox.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 1: Get on the White Lists
Hotmail and Yahoo! both keep lists of approved senders. Once you're on that list, that means you'll almost always go into the inbox. If you send a particularly spammy email, however, you can be removed from the list. The process can be frustrating and take a long time, but it's well worth it.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 2:"Drips"the Messages
Spam filters at most email providers look to see how many messages you're sending at a time. If you're sending to a large list, even if you have a fast and efficient email sending server, have the server "drip" the messages out slowly. You really don't want more than a couple thousand to hit any one email provider per hour if you're playing it safely.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 3: Break Large Lists Down
There are many reasons to break large email lists down into smaller ones, but the best reason is that doing so will mean that the spam complaints that you receive when you send your email won't be in one huge mass. It is inevitable that even loyal subscribers sometimes mark you as spam. If you send your large list in smaller segments, the email provider (Hotmail, MSN, etc.) will see less spam complaints bundled together at one time.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 4:"Clean" Your Email List
Most, if not all, email providers' spam filters penalize your domain or IP with a higher spam score (meaning there's a higher possibility of your emails going to junk folder) if they see that you are sending emails to bad email accounts. A bad email account is an address that doesn't exist, has been disabled or has a full inbox. These addresses should be cleaned (or "pruned") from your email list regularly to avoid this. If you allow them to add up on your list, you will eventually be flagged as a spam provider.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 5: Provide a Clear Unsub Link
Nobody likes it when somebody unsubscribes from their email list. However, providing a clear way to unsubscribe (and then honoring that unsub quickly) means that users are less likely to get frustrated and just mark you as spam. The number one criterion for ending up in the junk box is the number of spam complaints that you receive, so avoiding them at all costs is critical.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 6: Become the Contact
Once a user has added you to his or her contact list, friend list or address book, you will always end up in their inbox. Use every opportunity to encourage those on your email list to add you as a contact. Comm100 suggests doing it in the email sign up conformation email, on the confirmation page and during most customer service transactions. A typical way to ask customers to do this is to say, "Ensure that you continue to receive the quality information from us that you enjoy by adding us to your contact list."
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 7: Test Your Email
Before you send your entire email list the message you've worked so hard on, send a test message to each of the big email providers (Hotmail, Yahoo, MSN, Gmail, AOL and one generic office address that is viewed in an Outlook client). Send the test email using the exact same server and information that you'll use with your main list. If the test ends up with most of your emails going to junk folder, then it means you'll end up in the junk box on your main send also. The pre-send test means that you can try different subject lines and email content to try to figure out what sent you to spam.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 8: Don't Have Sloppy HTML Code
Spam filters check for bad html code, particularly if it looks like the code was done in Microsoft Word and then thrown into an email. Use a professional coder (preferably one who has done email templates before and knows the best way to make them resolve properly in an inbox) or a template provided by your email sending partner.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 9: Don't Use "The Big Image"
Embedding images in email is not totally a bad idea, but sending an email that's all one big image file definitely is, for many reasons. Foremost among reasons is that spam filters look for those types of image-based emails . Big image files often carry hidden messages that would normally get caught in spam filters (words like "free" and "Viagra"), so, when a spam filter can't read any real text in an email and only sees an image, it assumes the worst.
Avoid Your Emails Going to Junk Folder Tips No. 10: Don't Sound Like a Spammer!
This one should be obvious! The more "spam-like" text and phrases your email uses, the less likely it is to end up in the inbox. There are a number of free software solutions to check the "spam score" of an email before you send it, but there are also basic rules.
- Don't use the word "free" too many times.
- Don't use ALL CAPS.
- Don't use lots of colored fonts.
- Only use one exclamation point at a time!
- Stay away from words you'd see in spam: Viagra, drugs, porn, guaranteed winner.
If you've seen it used in a spam message that you received, don't use it in your own email message!
Even if you do all of these things and do them perfectly, your emails may still end up in the junk folder. Email spam filter criteria change almost daily and can be impacted by things that you have no control over. However, if you, as a habit, send good email that your clients want, you'll get into the inbox more often than not. Comm100 strongly suggest you to follow the above guidelines because, once an email provider thinks that your email is spam, it is very hard to get back into the inbox!