I’m sure we all have seen spammy emails for those work from home job ads. It’s spam. If you see spam in your inbox, your first instinct is to trash it and forget about it. Seeing spam in your email is the worst, but many email clients do a good job of filtering out spammy emails. Email marketing is a great way to connect with prospects and existing customers. If your business is building an email list to market to these groups, then knowing what triggers spam filters is beneficial for implementing an email marketing campaign. Good quality email that adds value is more likely to be read, but before that happens the email needs to appear in the inbox.

How do you make sure that the email appears in your contacts’ inbox? With Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and spam filters in place, it is in your best interest to be a legitimate email marketer than a dirty spammer. I’ve outlined some good practices you should follow when creating an email marketing campaign.

1. Get Permission

You should only be emailing to a list of contacts who have expressed consent in receiving emails from you. Make sure you have a record of their consent. Never buy an email list because most likely those individuals on that list don’t know who you are, and are more likely to mark your email as spam. And this will ruin your sender reputation, which simply means spam filters will black list your IP address. You definitely don’t want that.

You have implied permission from people you have an existing business relationship with. Your existing customers may not want to receive an email from your everyday, reduce the frequency. Your email campaigns shouldn’t always be the hard sell. It can be a stay-in-touch campaign to update your existing customers.

2. Double Opt-in

After someone filled out a form on your website to subscribe to your newsletter or blog, you need to send them a follow-up email with a confirmation link to ensure that they actually want to receive communications from you. Confirmed contacts are very special because they are ready to engage with you. This may reduce your number of overall subscribers, but your engagement will be higher.

3. Keep it short

Lengthy email is a red flag for spam filters. Not only that, people don’t have time to read long emails. Short and concise emails are better. Write like a person and keep your email conversational.

4. Include unsubscribe link in the email footer

Under CASL there must be a way for contacts to unsubscribe from your emails. Include an unsubscribe link in the footer as this is where the user expects it to appear. On the unsubscribe confirmation page asks your contacts to reconsider, use a funny video or text to convince them to stay.

5. Include the recipient’s name in the subject line 

This shows spam filters that you actually know the recipient by addressing them by their name. It is also great for engaging with your contacts. A personalized email with the contact’s name is more likely to be open than a generic email subject line.

6. Recognizable company name and sender name

Your company name should be easily recognizable and make sure to use your brand name. If the recipients cannot recognize the company, it may stop them from opening your email. And we don’t want that. If the recipient doesn’t know who you are, then you didn’t make an impression on them, aren’t keeping in touch or need to remind them of why and when they signed up.

7. Test your email before sending

Many people check their email on their mobile device, so it worth testing and making sure they can see your email properly. Test your emails on different email clients because each email client displays differently.

What Spam Filters look for

There are different criteria that spam filters look for. Avoid the following to ensure your email gets delivered:

  • All CAPS or CAPITALS in the subject line or in email copy
  • Excessive use of exclamation marks!
  • Text in red or green
  • Very large images, or many images with little text
  • Attached files
  • Spam trigger words, i.e. free, guarantee, no obligation, buy now, special offer
  • Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

The purpose of a great email campaign is to have your contacts open them and read the content. Drafting the perfect email copy takes time, and coming up with an enticing subject line is not an easy task. When you’re spending all that time perfecting that email campaign, it would be a shame for it be marked as spam.

Christine Fong is the Marketing Assistant at WindWater Marketing, a B2B marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. WindWater Marketing helps clients build their email lists and email marketing campaigns effectively without spam so they can generate leads, increase brand awareness and increase revenue. Visit www.windwatermarketing.ca to find out how we can help your small business.