How to Get Your Emails Past Spam Filters

Email marketers spend a great deal of time writing poignant and persuasive email copy, designing beautiful email templates that look great in a wide range of email clients, and crafting succinct and enticing email subject lines that get open and click-through rates skyrocketing. But before hitting the ‘send’ button, have you ever considered that your subscribers may not even get the opportunity to read your carefully crafted email?

No matter how reputable or established your website or business is, there are a multitude of things you may not even know about that can prevent your email from ever reaching a recipient’s inbox. And with more stringent privacy laws and increasingly sophisticated spam filters, it makes sense to be aware of all of the potential issues that can affect the successful delivery rate of your email marketing campaign.

If avoiding the legal issues surrounding personal privacy and anti-spam laws is not enough to convince you to educate yourself about the potential pitfalls of communicatig with your customers via email, squeezing more ROI out of your email marketing campaigns certainly should. Below is a list of the things you should absolutely never do in your email marketing if you want your messages to be successfully delivered, and the things you can proactively do to increase your rate of email deliverability.

15 Things to Avoid if You Want Your Emails to Land in Inboxes

  1. Don’t buy or rent mailing lists. Yes, it is legally possible to acquire lists of people who have agreed to email communications at some point, but they are extremely unlikely to actually want to receive your emails, increasing the likelihood that they will mark you as a source of spam emails.
  2. Don’t scrape websites for contact email addresses. This is always illegal and, as above, will very quickly get your emails labelled as spam.
  3. Don’t write words in capital letters anywhere within the email body or its subject line.
  4. Don’t embed video, Flash, or JavaScript anywhere within your email. If your communication relies on these technologies in order to get your message across, direct your audience to a landing page on your website instead.
  5. Don’t forget to include ALT text for images so that they can be easily read by all email clients, even if the images themselves are prevented from being displayed.
  6. Don’t embed HTML forms in your emails; instead, send recipients to a landing page on your website where they can complete the form securely.
  7. Don’t use obvious spam trigger words like ‘free’, ‘guarantee’, and ‘no obligation’ in your subject line or email body. Email clients are now far more effective at detecting spam email and will quickly send an email to the junk folder if it contains one of more of these trigger words. A comprehensive list of the type of words to avoid in your emails can be found here.
  8. Don’t use a red font when composing your email. And not that a legitimate email marketer would, but also refrain from using a white font on top of a white background – a trick typically used to stuff an email with keywords.
  9. Don’t use exclamation points in your email subject line or body!!!!!
  10. Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar; poorly written copy is yet another indication of spam, and most email clients will pick up on this.
  11. Don’t under any circumstances stuff your email copy with keywords. It will read poorly (see above) and will almost certainly end up in the recipient’s junk folder as a result.
  12. Don’t include loads of images in your email, or a few very large images. And remember, all images should have associated ALT text.
  13. Don’t repeatedly resend bounced emails; the most likely scenario for receiving an email bounce notification is that the email address is no longer in use, and continuously sending mail to non-existent email addresses will cause the mail server to blacklist your IP address.
  14. Don’t add attachments to your emails. Just as with forms and videos, send recipients to a page on your site to download whatever it is you want to distribute.
  15. Don’t rely on a shared IP address. If you are on a shared hosting package, it is strongly advised to purchase a dedicated IP address. This will help to prevent the email marketing activities of other websites on the same server from impacting upon your business.

15 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Email Delivery Rate

  1. Do reach out to inactive mailing list subscribers to find out if they still want to be included on your list; doing so decreases the likelihood that they’ll flag you as a distributor of spam and helps to keep your mailing list current and clean.
  2. Do ask for feedback from your inactive or infrequently active subscribers to see if you can re-engage them.
  3. Do use a double opt-in method of mailing list subscription. This means that once someone enters their email address into a newsletter subscription form, you should send them an email with a confirmation link ensuring that they do want to receive email communications from you. This helps to prevent fake sign-ups and is a great way of avoiding the junk folder.
  4. Do ask your subscribers to white-list you. Spam filters are more aggressive than ever before due to the rising problem of spam and phishing emails, and occasionally even genuine email still ends up in spam boxes. By asking your subscribers to add you to their address book, it tells spam filters to allow your email to enter the recipient’s inbox.
  5. Do include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address in the footer of your email.
  6. Do use a familiar ‘From’ name for your email communications – preferably your website or company name. This reduces the likelihood of recipients not recognising you in their inbox.
  7. Do include your recipient’s name in the ‘To:’ field so spam filters know that you do, indeed, know your recipient.
  8. Do offer both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails; it’s not only an indicator of legitimacy and trustworthiness to ISPs, but it also helps to make your emails more reader friendly – especially in older email clients.
  9. Do keep emails short; too much copy is another red flag for spam filters. Also, long emails tend not to be read nearly as much as short, concise email communications.
  10. Do include the date somewhere within the body of your email to show that your message is current.
  11. Do test emails you send with the email clients your subscribers use to ensure that they are displayed correctly in all of them.
  12. Do get email sender accreditation from a third party so ISPs know you are a trusted sender. A reliable and well-respected email accreditation service is ReturnPath.
  13. Do monitor your email sender reputation. DNSstuff.com lets you check whether you are a blacklisted sender, something many email marketers aren’t even aware of.
  14. Do honour unsubscribes; it’s not only good for you as a maintenance and housekeeping mechanism, but it’s also illegal not to.
  15. Do stay up to date on changes in email marketing laws, ISP behaviour, and spam filter technology. Email marketing is constantly evolving, and keeping up-to-date helps ensure you’re always following best practices (and staying within the law!).

About Michael Bell One

Michael Bell One is a web design, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and digital marketing agency based in Lewes, East Sussex, and with offices in Sussex, Surrey, London and Kent.

To talk to us about your web design, SEO or Branding project, contact Jake Judd or David Park on 01273 478822 or simply send us an email instead.