4 Strategies to Win Email Delivery Gold
by Audrey Howes
Much like Olympic athletes, as marketers we need to constantly be on the lookout for winning e-marketing strategies. Recently one of the world’s biggest, Grum, was shut down. PC World reports worldwide spam was cut in half by the elimination of this spammer (source). While we can all rejoice at the thought of less spam in our inboxes, it should also remind us we need to remain on our toes to ensure our emails are not inadvertently classified as spam
Get an edge up on your competition by adding these inbox targeting strategies to your playbook:
1. Clear the Spam Hurdles
Spam triggers are constantly changing and simply using one of the words below does not guarantee your email will have a quick trip to the junk bin. However, it remains important to be mindful of your word usage and run a Spam check before every send to be sure your score is low.
Here are some of the main triggers to avoid in your email subject lines and body content:
2. Get Off to the Right Start
Spam filters are smart. They look at your subject line and the content of your message to see how they match up. Well written subject lines offer a hook to entice the recipient to open the email, but the hook must line up with the rest of the message.
Follow these guidelines to write spam filter friendly subject lines:
- Make sure the subject line matches the message
- Try to keep your subject lines at no more than 50 characters
- Avoid as many of the Spam Triggers as possible (see above)
- Don’t write in ALL CAPS
- Keep your punctuation to a minimum
Subject lines are one of the most critical aspects to avoiding the dreaded SPAM label. Follow the guidelines above and inboxes everywhere will reward you.
3. Respect Your Supporters
For starters, we need to remind you that permission based lists are the way to go for successful and spam free email marketing. Purchased lists will never yield the results of a permission based list. Once you have a permission based list, you are ready to market. Customer Care Agent, Spencer Morrison, recently reminded us of the importance of list management in his posts on the Swiftpage blog. You can read his full posts here and here.
Taken from his advice, here are a few ways to keep your list in tip top shape:
- Always look at your reports after an email send
- Analyze, update, and even remove bounced and invalid emails from your list
- Offer easy ways to opt in to your list from your website
- Regularly check in with contacts and give them ways to update their information and preferences in your database (i.e. List Updater survey)
- Consider ways to reactivate inactive subscribers and don’t be afraid to remove them from your list
A healthy list will not only bring you results, it will also encourage spam filters to let you through. Emails with high open rates, low bounce rates, and minimal spam complaints are looked at with favor by ISPs.
4. Make Your Recipients Proud
Before a new contact signs up to receive your emails, it is crucial to set email program expectations. Email recipients will quickly flag you as SPAM if you say you are going to send something and send something else OR not send anything for months and then an email from you arrives unexpectedly in their inbox.
- Tell your subscribers what they can expect from you either on the sign-up page or in your first email to them
- Will you be sending weekly, monthly, less often?
- What type of communication will you be sending? (i.e. Newsletter, promotions)
- Make a calendar for yourself and your marketing team and follow through on your promises
- Send the type of communication you promised. If you want to change what you are sending, tell your recipients first and give them the option to opt-out.
- If you fall way behind or plan to change your sending schedule, send an email of explanation and ask if they’d like to remain on the list
Delivering on expectations will win the respect of your email subscribers. Do whatever it takes to follow-through with the expectations you set.
5. Important Notes About SPAM
Before closing out this article, we thought it would be important to share a few little know facts about SPAM.
- If you are CAN-SPAM compliant, your messages are more likely to make it to inboxes, but it is never a guarantee. CAN-SPAM only covers the minimum requirements. Good email marketers set higher bars to shoot for better delivery.
- Your email must make it through multiple SPAM filters before it is 'delivered':
- The Internet level – emails are filtered before reaching the ISP (Internet Service Provider)
- The ISP level – emails are filtered at the ISP level
- The end user level – emails are filtered by software applications in place on the end user’s PC (source)
- SPAM filters look closely at email design. Messy HTML code raises a lot of red flags. If you want to avoid messy code, don’t use programs such as Microsoft Word or Publisher as HTML programs.
- Most SPAM filters work on a point system and filter emails that exceed the point limit. Things like trigger words, HTML coding, and body content catch phrases are all assigned point values. No, we can’t tell you the point values because they are constantly changing.
- No one will ever achieve 100% deliverability. There is only so much we can control so we do our best to control what we can and reach as many as we can.
As with all marketing, our strategies need to be flexible and we need to be ready and able to shift when our quickly changing world changes, well, quickly. Implement the strategies above, remain mindful of the SPAM lessons, and you will be in line to stand atop the email marketing podium.