The reality of Spams and how to avoid being one of them

camera-19223_1920As marketer you want to send out legitimated emails to your customer, be it a newsletter, announcement, product or service promotion email. However emails keep getting blocked by recipient’s mail server or routed to their junked mailbox. It sucks not getting emails through even though you’ve already gotten the approval or consent from customers or subscribers to send them email. Unfortunately, that’s our reality now as Spam emails are everywhere, all the email servers nowadays are implementing spam filtering to prevent junk mail from reaching their user’s mailbox. Especially now that many of those filters have been updated recently.

How do spam filters work?

We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the specifics of how spam filters work is a jealously guarded secret. They don’t want spammers knowing how to beat them. The good news is that we do know some things about how they work so legitimate marketers can still get their emails to the intended inbox. Spam filters generally look at a few things when deciding what to do with emails: the sender’s technical specifics, the email’s content, and the recipient’s engagement.

Technical Specifics

Spam filters typically check for appropriate email authentication and your sending IP’s reputation when deciding whether to deliver your emails or make them disappear into spam limbo. It’s a really good idea to use email authentication and protect your sending reputation if you actually want to get your messages into inboxes.

Email Authentication

Do you have email authentication set up? The two most common authentication standards are SPF and DKIM. Every major ISP and most major spam filter providers check for one or both of these when deciding what to do with an email. With eFlyerMaker, setting up your email authentication is already taken care of.  See: Authentication Mechanisms

Spam filters look at your sending IP when deciding what to do with your emails. If your sending IP reputation get damaged, it can really hurt your deliverability. Our Team takes IP reputation really seriously here at eFlyerMaker because if someone gets blacklisted for being spammy, it can affect deliverability for other clients as well. You can maintain a good IP reputation by following our Permission-Based Marketing Policy, warming up your IP address, and having good list hygiene.

List Management

List management is important. If you’re sending to unengaged prospects who aren’t opening and clicking your emails, mail servers are going to assume you’re a spammy sender. Why, you ask? Because email providers and ISPs are going to notice that your emails are being ignored by recipients and assume you’re sending spam. So, what can you do to look good to mail servers? Have a sunset policy for unengaged prospects. After sending a set number of emails to a prospect with no engagement, remove them from your mailing lists. This is where the Behavioural data feature becomes very useful.

Also, avoid sending to old lists. Prospects on these lists probably won’t remember who you are, so they’re likely to mark your message as spam. This is fatal to your email deliverability. You could also end up sending to a spam trap, which could get you blacklisted.

Content

Here we’re talking about the content of your message. The stuff that’s actually in your email subject line and body. It’s easy to make a few missteps and have your legitimate email trigger spam filters. Keep an eye out for these common mistakes, and avoid them whenever you can (pro tip: you can almost always avoid these mistakes).

Spammy Copy

Try to avoid spammy words and phrases in your emails. Avoid using them in the subject line or the body of your message. A phrase like “CLICK HERE! 100% Free marketing solutions!!!” will probably trigger a spam filter and really hurt your deliverability.  See: Over 400 Spam Trigger Words

Spam filters usually work with scores. Past a certain score, your email is tagged Spam and the filters will then follow their parameters (Delete/Mark as spam/Send to Junk). Having some of these words doesn’t automatically make your email a spam. But they all carry a certain weight and collecting them might tip the scale towards a spam tag.

For example, “Sincerely” and “Dear” are not that heavy, but “Viagra” or “Cialis” can kill your message right away, especially if it’s in the subject line.

Interactive Content

Including some kinds of ‘interactive content’ in your emails could cause your emails to be marked as spam. At eFlyerMaker, we’ve noticed that including the following in your email code could trigger spam filters:

  • JavaScript
  • RSS feeds
  • Forms

Messy Code

One of the most common causes of sloppy email HTML is copy-pasting from Microsoft Word. We strongly recommend not to do that. When you copy-paste content from Word, it pulls in styling tags and all kinds of other stuff. If you must copy/paste, make sure you’re using the Paste as text button in the text Editor of the message. You could also paste your material in Notepad(PC) or TextWrangler(MAC) or any program meant to cancel any formatting first, and then paste in eFlyerMaker.Also, be sure to check your email source code for any messy HTML or other code before you send to your prospects.

Suspicious Formatting

Don’t do suspicious things with your text formatting like:

  • WRITING IN ALL CAPS
  • Using excessive punctuation!!!??? in your subject line
  • Trying to be hip by d0ing w3ird th1ngs with letters and numbers
  • Using too many different font colors
  • Using large font sizes (anything greater than 10pt or 12pt)

Not only can these sorts of things trigger spam filters, they might also annoy your recipients into marking your emails as a spam.

Image and Text Ratio

Too many images (or too large of an image) compared to text in an HTML email can be considered spammy. Adding more text and/or reducing the number and size of images may help. Keep in mind that lots of email clients block images by default, so there’s a good chance that even if your image-heavy emails make it into the inbox, your recipients don’t see the images automatically. Also, make sure your images include “alt” tags (Image Description).

Links

Avoid using URL shorteners in your emails, they’re frequently abused by spammers. Some shortened domains (including bit.ly) have been placed on widely used block lists which means that emails containing these links will be blocked by many spam filters. It’s also a best practice to limit the number of different domains linked in an email.

Make sure you never post direct links into your messages. This is the kind of thing that will raise an alarm for no reason. Use the insert link feature and make good use of the Text to display.

All your eFlyerMaker messages feature this tag:  http://t.eflyermaker.com//n9p/p/z/cdkgb/n/pm5s/n/t.htm”  in the source code, which is the norm with programs such as eFlyerMaker.

So, If you want to send a link to the picture of a cute puppy:

Instead of posting your link like this:

 spam2 

Which, in the source code of your email, will appear as follow:

href=”http://t.eflyermaker.com//n9p/p/z/cdkgb/n/pm5s/n/t.htm”>http://www.pageresource.com/wallpapers/wallpaper/imgisland-free-animals-cute-puppy_150072.jpg

Post it like this:

spam1

spam3

Which, in the source code of your email, will appear as follow:

href=”http://t.eflyermaker.com//rpx/p/z/cdkgb/n/pm5s/p/t.htm” target=”_blank” title=”Cute puppy”>To see a cute puppy

You see, in the first situation, because there are two links, it looks like you’re showing your recipients a link to one page but actually the link is for another page which is what spammers would do, especially when attempting to phish. So the Spam filters block it.

In the second situation, there’s only one link and then a text to display, the filters will consider that your intentions are made clear to the recipients and will likely let you through.

Missing Information

According to CAN-SPAM, your marketing emails must contain two things: your physical address and a way for recipients to opt-out of future emails. This is the law. If your marketing emails are missing an unsubscribe/email preference center link or a physical address, they’ll trigger spam filters. The dynamic content  Bundle_of_legal_requirements  takes care of that automatically and is inserted in all messages from the start unless you remove it. eFlyerMaker will also scan your email for an unsubscribe link and automatically insert one if it doesn’t find any. See: Unsubscribe Link Logic

All in all, following these simple advices should suffice to lead a good life in the email marketing world without fear of spam filters. And if you do feel that a spam filter is targeting your emails, contact the ISP and inquire about it. There’s always an opened door somewhere.

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