Have you ever wondered why your open rate suddenly dropped to single digits?
This may be due to the updated filter now sending emails of your brand to the subscriber’s spam folder. But you don’t have to succumb to those spam filters.
Here is what you need to know to help your email avoid the troublemakers who throw the good and the bad in the spam filter.
What is a spam filter?
Spam filters typically use technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect unsolicited, unwanted, virus-infected emails (often called spam) and prevent them from reaching the main inbox.
Although it affects the position of the email in the recipient’s system, it does not affect your email sending rate, which depends on the number of emails sent. Since spam-identified emails have been sent, reduced access to them will usually affect your overall email open rate.
The spam filter evaluates one or more factors to determine whether the email should go to the main inbox or the spam folder, including:
- Subject lines that look false or suspicious
- Sender with a blacklisted IP address
- Words or phrases related to spam
- Customize rules to eliminate the input of recipients of other people’s spam
You can’t get rid of the spam filter completely, but you can follow the 10 steps below to reduce your spam score and improve email deliverability.
1. Provide a dual choice
Use double opt-in form. Visitors who fill out the subscription form must confirm their registration via a separate email.
When people take extra steps to confirm their subscription, they are less likely to report your email as spam.
As a bonus, you can also get a more accurate email address, which improves the quality of the list in the long run.
2. Maintain your IP reputation
The reputation of your IP address is an important factor that affects email delivery rates. If you send email campaigns to a large number of recipients from a newly created IP address, email service providers such as Gmail, Apple Mail, and Yahoo may hesitate to send your email to the recipient’s inbox.
You should first send a small number of emails to warm up the IP addresses, and then increase the number over time.
Slowly building your IP reputation helps email service providers better understand your sending behavior, the accuracy of your listings, and how subscribers respond to emails. If they are positive, the email service provider is more likely to provide them.
3. Avoid trigger words or misleading subject lines
No matter what your original intention is, your text will trigger a spam filter. Phrases such as “earn extra cash” or “increased sales” are often caught by email filters. Please pay careful attention to every word and phrase you use, from the subject line to the body.
A 2016 study by Litmus found that 54% of respondents said they were tricked into opening promotional emails by misleading subject lines. When cheated, the recipient is also more likely to mark your email as a spam folder.
The best way is to make strong headlines and avoid spam.
Here are some taboo words of HubSpot:
4. Let your subscribers add you
When they sign up, ask your subscribers to add your email address to their approved contact list (i.e. the main tab).
If they do add you to their contacts, it will help them and other subscribers to see your email. By including you in their “Available” list, trust signals will be automatically sent to service providers such as Gmail or Apple Mail, thereby reducing your spam score.
Below is an example of a request from Ann Handley’s Total Anarchy newsletter. She included it in her welcome message-and instructions on how to do it:
5. Send premium content
You have taken steps to make your content more likely to appear in your inbox, but your work has not yet been completed. Now, you need to make subscribers marvel every time they open your email.
Email service providers such as Gmail will pay close attention to the level of engagement your email receives from subscribers. If your email has a low open and read rate, subsequent outreach may be sent to the promotion tab or even end up in the junk folder.
Personalization helps create an amazing feeling. In this example, Mindvalley personalized the introduction and created a sense of urgency and high impact:
6. Discard attachments
If you tend to attach documents with more information, special coupons, etc., please don’t do so. Attachments not only mean that it takes longer to download emails, but they usually direct emails directly to bounce or spam folders.
Instead, by including a link or call-to-action button in the email, the subscriber is sent to the login page containing the content, just like Netflix does here:
7. Obey the law
Most countries/regions have anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM ACT, GDPR, CASL, etc.) to protect the data of their residents from spammers.
If you have US subscribers, compliance with CAN-SPAM ACT should be your top priority. Which requires:
- Do not use any false or misleading sender names. The sender should be from an actual person in your team and registered to a valid domain name.
- Provide your postal address. It can be your current street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox.
- Meet the opt-out request in a timely manner. When subscribers tell you that they no longer want to receive your email, delete it.
Check each country to determine its specific anti-spam guidelines and laws.
8. Use proper text and image ratio
The spam filter will block the content of a large number of pictures. Even if you don’t do this, some recipients will use an email provider that disables images by default.
Avoid using only image-based content. Mailchimp recommends that the text ratio in the email is 80% and the image ratio is 20%.
You should also follow these other image-related best practices:
- Provide alternative text for each uploaded image.
- Limit images to no more than three.
- Test emails with images on different clients, such as Gmail and Yahoo, and see how it is translated before sending them to the entire list.
9. Avoid inactive subscribers
No matter how often you contact their inbox, some subscribers will be inactive. This may be because they, like 31% of people, changed their email address within a year. Or they may lose interest in your content because their needs have changed or they don’t have time to consume it.
Treat subscribers who have not opened your email for at least six months as inactive subscribers. Your list will be cleaner, and your emails are less likely to be flagged by spam filters.
We recommend that you adjust your sending frequency based on their activity before deleting their email address:
- After 30 days, send an IF email.
- After 60 days, send low-frequency emails.
- After 120 days, send to participate in the activity again.
- If they still do not join, remove (or cancel) them.
10. Use email checker to check spam score
At this stage, you have some good ideas about what you should do.
However, if you still have some problems with these spam filters, the spam test should be the last sure thing you can do to defeat spam bots.
Here are some tools that can help you improve your spam score based on the mistakes you make:
- My company Omnisend provides a subject line testing tool that can evaluate multiple criteria, including the possibility of spam.
- Mail tester Scale your email spam score from 0 to 10. It also details what is good and what is bad, so you know what to solve.
- Glockapps will test your email copy and give it 100 points for free. If you provide your email address, they will send an in-depth spam test report with more detailed information about improvement opportunities.
Arrives in the subscriber’s inbox
Increasing the open rate is an ongoing process, but avoiding spam filters is a good start. By following these 10 steps, you are more likely to get the email out of the spam folder and send it to the top of the subscriber’s inbox.
All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a suggested tool, please feel free to add it in the comments.
Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute