This article is contributed by Angie Picardo.
In today’s age of sophisticated spam-filtering software, it’s more difficult than ever to effectively market your business online. Hundreds, even thousands, of emails to potential customers may never see the light of day, consigned instead to the darkness of recipient’s SPAM folder. The problem grows worse by the year, and there are no guarantees to avoiding the SPAM trap. But, with a few simple tips, odds are good your message will make it past the slings and arrows…and to the eyes of paying customers.
1. Don’t Purchase Lists
We’ve all seen them – lists of “targeted leads” – and we’ve all been tempted. But these “guaranteed’ lists of potential customers are usually a guaranteed trip to the SPAM folder. Filled with dead emails and spam traps, they’re a sure sign that you’re one of those people who send a lot of unsolicited emails. Don’t buy lists. Ever.
2. Watch Your Tongue (or Type)
Spam filters are set up to analyze your message. And, while there are no guaranteed “right” words, there are plenty of wrongs ones. Words like porn, enhancement, prize, win, promo, or offer, are likely to cause you problems in delivery. Avoid these words and others like them – words that imply you’re trying to persuade someone to do something – as much as possible. And if you must use them, do it VERY sparingly. Moreover, it’s best to avoid putting individual words in bold or italics – or changing the font size in mid-sentence.
3. Use A Reputable ESP
Email Service Providers are evaluated by SPAM software based on the reputation of their IP addresses and the domains of their clients. ESPs that send solicited emails and refuse spammers as their customers have greater credibility with mailbox providers. Their customers are more likely to make it past the filters, and into the inbox. So research your provider. If it isn’t very reputable, then your messages will suffer as a result.
4. Avoid Bad Practices
Your email campaigns may contain risky elements that are detrimental to the deliverability of your messages. Here’s a brief checklist to go through before you hit the “Send” button:
- Avoid terms associated with the language of sales. If it sounds like you’re selling, you probably are. And you might be a spammer.
- Avoid bombast. Don’t use a lot of exclamation marks, or CAPS!!! (In fact, it’s best not to use either. At all.) Exclamation marks are like laughing at your own jokes, and capital letters are for shouting. You’re unlikely to use either in a business email to an established client, so don’t use them in your email marketing.
- Avoid hyperlinks as much as possible. When you must use them, link only to reputable domains.
- Avoid images as often as possible. We all need to use them at times, but keep them to a minimum. And when you must use them, host them with credible services.
5. Monitor Your Output
Need a simple way to test the effectiveness of your email campaign? Add a “test” list of email addresses using ISPs from many of the most popular email providers – ones like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.
Set up at least five mailboxes at each provider and include the test email addresses in your mailing list. After each marketing message has been sent, check the accounts to see if it was delivered. If it made it to all of the test accounts, it likely made it to your customers. If not, it’s time to consult this list of tips again.
6. Keep Communicating
Sending emails once every month can be more dangerous than sending one every week. Why? Because your customers may forget about you.
If subscribers fail to recognize the address in your From field, they’re likely to delete you unopened – or worse yet, mark you as SPAM. There are lots of good reasons to maintain steady communication. Surprising as it may seem, avoiding the SPAM trap is even one of them.
Author Bio: Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save money with an Alienware coupon.