Eight Simple Rules to Evade the SPAM Folder

 In B2B Engagement Marketing, Uncategorized

What is an email marketer’s worst nightmare?

No, it doesn’t involve scary clowns or being trapped in a spider web. An email marketer’s worst nightmare is spending the time and effort to create a useful, relevant email that has been meticulously targeted to a specific audience and for that email to end up in the spam folder.

Despite all of the buzz around social media, email marketing remains a staple of marketing departments around the globe. It is a tried and tested marketing tactic that has been proven to provide measurable ROI for organizations. With such a powerful tool at your fingertips, it is essential to avoid the most common pitfalls, evade spam traps and ensure your emails reach the inboxes of your audience.

How can you do it? Follow these eight simple rules for avoiding the dreaded spam folder.

1. Make your content relevant.

By opting in, your audience is expecting your email. Make sure you deliver on their expectations. You wouldn’t send a vegetarian an email with a recipe for filet mignon wrapped in bacon. Similarly, be wary of sending a healthcare professional an email highlighting the latest trends in IT service management.

2. GO EASY ON THE CAPS.

Sure, text in all CAPITAL LETTERS draws your attention, but it won’t even have the option to do that if you don’t reach the inbox. Overusing capitalized letters is one of the fastest routes to the spam folder along with…

3. Avoid spammy phrases: Free, $$$, Buy Now!!! 

Sales-heavy wording won’t get you very far. Major email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo have algorithms to detect emails with salesy copy and send them straight to the spam folder. Make sure your email doesn’t end up among them.

4. Beware of uncommon triggers.

Not everything is a science. While you can use caution and adhere to industry best practices, every email is unique and spam filters use a very fine-toothed comb.

Here at BrightTALK, we composed a holiday-themed email and blog post that initially mentioned how “a record 170 million Americans” were planning to celebrate Halloween this year. When previewing the email, our marketing team noticed the spam score had gone up. We were curious and investigated further.

It turns out that the score had jumped due to an iteration of the phrase, “millions of Americans.” This phrase has been historically prevalent in a high percentage of emails sent to spam, and has now become an automatic trigger to increase the likelihood of being sent to spam. You could have unknowingly included a seemingly harmless phrase that triggers a spam jump and sends you into email purgatory.

Uncommon triggers can impact your email in a variety of ways, which is why it’s always important to…

5. Analyze your subject line.

The subject line is the first thing your audience sees. As the gateway to your email, you should be meticulous in optimizing it. Having a simple, clear subject line is key to avoiding the spam folder, but it’s not always that straightforward.

We wanted to send an email promoting a webinar on how to protect your organization from “malware.” During testing, we noticed this email was delivered to our spam folders. Through team brainstorming and experimentation, we pinpointed the issue: having the word “malware” in the subject line set off triggers from various email providers.

This is just one example of the power and weight the subject line carries. Be sure to thoroughly analyze your subject line, its wording and how it will be perceived by spam filters as well as your target audience.

6. Monitor your image to text ratio.

Having a disproportionate ratio of images to text can also be a trigger. Image-heavy emails cause your spam score to skyrocket. To remedy this, be careful in your image selection and placement. Images are proven to be powerful draws for the human eye and often result in higher click-through rates. However, it is important to use caution, as too many images – or an unusually large image – can trigger spam alerts.

7. Test, test, test.

After you draft your email template and you believe it is ready to send to your audience, go through one final step: testing. Send tests internally, including only yourself and another trusted member of your marketing team. Here you should take a step back and look for any improper image rendering, misspellings or copy that could send your email to the spam folder. After you have successfully sent an internal test and made final modifications, your email is ready to send!

8. Call an expert.

Keep up to date on the latest tips and best practices for email marketing. Stay in touch with your relationship manager at your respective email service provider. He or she can be a great resource to help you identify how to improve your emails especially if your deliverability rates are lower than expected. They can also provide valuable information on spam, email deliverability and current industry trends.

Following these guidelines is the start to successfully avoiding the bevy of triggers that keep your email from the inbox. Then, once you reach the inbox, you can start focusing on optimizing open and click through rate.


This post is part of our series on the 12 days of webinars and videos. Check out our other posts
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Showing 9 comments
  • Ryan McBurney

    Good stuff! This is really helpful and insightful, especially #4 which I had no idea could happen (but makes complete sense now that I think about it. I just shared with my email team here at FaceTime Strategy. Thanks!

  • Donna V.

    Great job! Very interesting article!

  • CSUrmston

    Interesting post. This is why I always check my SPAM folder in my own email. Never know what is getting sent there before I see it.

  • Ben

    Great post- very helpful, thank you!

  • Jo3

    Great stuff! The story about the holiday email with the iteration of the phrase "millions of americans" in it was very interesting- I will definitely keep it in mind when I write my next email!

  • Nathan

    A lot of great points made here! In any industry it can be very detrimental for important emails to go unanswered because of improper spam identification….I definitely learned new ways to avoid this from happening, thanks for posting!

  • PC

    Lots of great information here I never even thought about…will definitely keep this in mind and share it with my company as well!

  • Ryan

    Very insightful article! The subject line analysis is wonderful. Most of the time you only get one shot at capturing people's attention, make sure you make your point short, concise and leaving the reader wanting to know more.

    It's also important to note that a number of email clients and browsers don't even show images at all when the original message is opened, instead asking the user to download the images. This lends to making one big interactive image the user needs to download to access your content or mixing in text to assure that you dont just have a bunch of empty boxes making your email look like an unfinished ppt.

    I might just have to contact you as my email expert….

  • Noah

    Great article! I always alternate from using templates for sending mass emails but this is very informative!

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