Four ways to avoid the spam filter

By Kathleen Aoki

You've created what you thought was the perfect newsletter - cool graphics, colored fonts and a seemingly unbeatable sales pitch. Yet the open and clickthrough rates to your email campaign are less than spectacular. What went wrong?

It could very well be that your email became the victim of the spam filter. According to MailChimp, up to 20 per cent of all emails get consumed by "overzealous" spam filters each day.

How spam filters work

Spam filters work on a points system, assigning points to emails based on certain criteria, such as spammy words in the subject line. If an email reaches a certain threshold of points, it will end up in the junk folder.

Four ways to avoid the spam filter

  1. First and foremost, avoid 'spammy' words, phrases and symbols in your subject line and body. For example, avoid things like "discount", "click here", "bargain", "act now", "urgent", "!!!", etc. See 100 spam trigger words and phrases to avoid for a more complete list.

  2. Avoid using capitals and large or brightly-coloured fonts in your email and even your signature file. These items can raise your spam score. Use plain text instead of HTML when possible and never send your email as one big image - these will be immediately flagged as spam.

  3. Avoid sending attachments with your database emails where possible as they may be deemed suspicious and your email will be quarantined or discarded.

  4. If you do use HTML to create your emails, don't use sloppy HTML code, and never use Microsoft Word to generate your HTML. Spam filters will often target bad HTML.

Email dos

Conversely, to increase the likelihood of your email making it through the spam filter gauntlet:

  • Use a descriptive subject line.
  • Send from a familiar, previously used email address.
  • Make sure the date on your computer is correct. Incorrect or missing dates are often a sign of forged email headers.
  • Think about running your email through a spam checker before sending, such as Email Spam Test.

Aim for good content

Ultimately, you want to create emails that not only make it past the spam filter, but also create emails that actually get read. The best way to make this happen is to skip the hard sell and go for useful and valuable content instead.

Monitor your email open rate

The 2013 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report shows the average open rate for emails is just 32.36%, while other studies show it's closer to 20%. If you find that your open rate drops significantly from your own average, it's likely you have a spam filter issue.

Fortunately, there are many tools now available to help you design and manage your email campaigns, and that make getting around the spam filter a breeze.


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