In the mid-1990’s, email marketing was one of the most efficient forms of marketing for businesses. This involved using emails to send ads or inform the targeted consumer segments about new products, sales, and offers. In those days it was an emerging channel of marketing for businesses, so open and click-through rates were quite high.
Today, however, things have changed. Email marketing is harder now than ever before. Everybody is using it to market their products and services. The result is consumer inboxes stuffed with marketing emails from numerous companies. No surprise then that most people delete such marketing emails without even opening them.
Also, email service providers have come up with spam protection features which means your email could land in a customer’s spam folder and may never be seen. This has led to a rapid decline in open and click-through rates.
But though open and click-through rates have reached rock bottom value and social media has taken a more prevalent place, email marketing is still one of the main methods for marketing used by businesses around the world. Email marketing is an effective marketing tactic that can generate results when done right.
To get the desired results from your email marketing strategies, ensure you avoid spam filters and get your email to the readers’ inboxes. Here are some tips to help you out:
1. Manage the Subject Line
A subject line is a significant factor in making it through spam filters. According to reports, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. A weak or obscure subject line could get your message spammed either by spam filters or by your prospects. To avoid being flagged as spam:
- • Ensure you use a powerful subject line.
- • Don’t use words that are included in the spam lists of email service providers.
- • Make sure your subject line is short.
- • Avoid using all caps or special characters in your subject line.
2. Include Quality Content in Your Emails
Whether your email gets into a consumer’s inbox or not depends on its content to a large extent. If your messages are full of graphics or links, spam filters will send your emails directly to users’ spam mail folders. The content of each email is given a ‘spam score’ by email service providers, which determines whether or not the email will be marked as spam. While different email providers use different algorithms to determine spam scores, there are some general steps you can take to keep your spam score low.
Ensure your email contains legitimate news and offers instead of numerous links. While writing content for your email newsletter, do not incorporate words (such as ‘free’, ‘sales’, ‘discount’, etc.), or anything that the email service providers’ spam filters would consider spam.
There are many free online tools (contactoLogy, Mailingcheck) available to check your emails against spam filters. If this tool rates your email content as spam, redesign your email before sending it to your subscribers.
3. Avoid Large Embedded Images in Your Emails
Email marketers have the perception that an email, just like any other kind of marketing material, looks better with big and appealing images in it. But contrary to the social media tactic of using images to attract followers, avoid using big images in your newsletters.
Email service providers like Gmail consider large embedded images a sign of promotion or spam. So to prevent your email from being flagged as spam, avoid using large images and rely mostly on text to make your point.
4. Make the Unsubscribe Link Prominent
This issue is not related to spam filters, but to subscribers who might mark you as spam if the unsubscribe link is not easily noticeable. According to the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, the unsubscribe button is mandatory for promotional emails.
In some cases, readers may not want to receive emails and without a clearly marked option in every email to opt out, they could easily report your emails as spam to their email service provider.
While you obviously don’t want users to unsubscribe, giving the recipients a way to opt out, if they are not interested in your messages any more, is better than being flagged as spam.
5. Make Your Email Mobile Optimized
Subscribers are now reading your emails on their smartphones and tablets. According to the 2013 Digital Marketer Report, 43% of email is now opened on mobile devices. Since a high percentage of people are accessing emails on Internet-enabled mobile devices, it’s vital to optimize your email marketing campaign for smartphones.
The screens of mobile devices lack the high resolution of desktops or laptops. While your newsletter may look awesome on a desktop screen, when squeezed into a small screen of a 4-inch phone it may look awful! If that is the case, chances are your recipients reading your emails on their mobile devices may mark you as spam. So before emailing your subscribers, make sure your messages look legible on mobile screens.
6. Figure out the Best Time and Frequency to Send out Your Emails
Your prospects are receiving tons of emails every single day. If you send your marketing emails at wrong times or too frequently, chances are your subscribers will flag them as spam. Many email marketers struggle with finding the best time and frequency for mailing newsletters to their subscribers.
You should ideally reach out to your leads when they are not too busy. Make sure you avoid sending emails during holidays and peak timings such as Monday mornings. For businesses with email subscribers across the globe, scheduling emails according to time zones is a good idea. Timewarp allows you to deliver campaigns based on individual subscribers’ time zones.
If you email too often you run the risk of your subscribers marking you as spam for being annoying. And if you don’t email often enough, users will forget they had signed up for your newsletter and may unsubscribe from it or flag it as spam.
The biggest challenge for email marketers therefore is to ensure their promotional emails don’t end up in the spam folders of recipients, automatically or manually. If email marketers follow the anti-spam laws and keep the above mentioned points in mind, their emails will not be flagged as spam.
June 23, 2014