By Liviu Tanase
People have been reading more marketing emails in the past year. No less than 78 percent of marketers say they’ve seen an increase in engagement over the last 12 months. Now is the time for you to make the most of email and its marketing potential.
However, not all your subscribers will see your messages. With 17 percent of all emails going to spam, some of your campaigns may never reach your target prospects and customers. Internet and email service providers use advanced filters to separate legitimate emails from spam. Sometimes, one or more things can trigger these filters to relegate your emails away from people’s inboxes.
Let’s see why this happens and what you can do to avoid the desolation of the junk folder.
To avoid being labeled as spam, don’t act like a spammer
That may seem self-explanatory, but if you don’t know what behavior is spammy, you may not know how to avoid it. Here are the top things to be aware of when you want to land in the inbox and avoid the spam folder.
Stay on top of your email list hygiene
What some email marketers forget is that the most well-crafted email means nothing if the list you send it to is full of bad contacts. Not only will those emails reach no one but also, those bounces affect your sender reputation and cause ISPs to see you as a spammer.
Spammers don’t care about their list hygiene. They scrape email addresses from the Internet and use them without any regard for ethics. Getting bounces and spam complaints or hitting a spam trap doesn’t stop them from sending more spam. Until, of course, they’re blocked and can’t even reach the junk folder anymore. It’s common for spammers to get blacklisted – but it also happens to respected businesses when they’re not careful.
As a legitimate email marketer, you can’t afford to engage in such behaviors and be mistaken for a spammer. So starting with a healthy list is vital. Buying one is never a good idea, as everyone on your list should be there because they want to get your emails. Permission is key in email marketing.
Whether you’re just starting your list or already have a number of contacts, consider implementing double opt-in. This subscription method requires every new subscriber to confirm that they do indeed want to receive your emails. It’s easy to set up and prevents your database from acquiring poor-quality contacts.
Apart from that, validating your list at least quarterly shows you’re following email marketing best practices. For inbox providers, it’s a sign that you are a trustworthy sender, so they’re confident about directing your emails to people’s inboxes.
Learning about and implementing good email list hygiene matters as much as what you write and how you present it. What good would your hard work do if nobody ends up seeing it?
Be careful with your subject lines
There must be hundreds of articles online about email subject lines – and for good reason. After your “From” name, your subject line is the first thing your subscribers see. It has a significant impact on your open rate: 47 percent of people say they open an email based on the subject line alone.
So it’s worth taking the time to polish each subject line and ensure it’s:
informative: people should get a clear idea of what your email is about
enticing: it should spark curiosity without resorting to cheap tricks.
A helpful exercise is to write down several versions of your subject line until you find one that stands out. If it helps, consult with your team or friends, their feedback can be eye-opening.
When choosing the final version, make sure it doesn’t include any spammy words that could trigger ISPs to think your email is spam. If you get an email with the word “free” in the subject, it can cause suspicion. Also, words you should avoid include “lowest price,” “fast cash,” “save $” and other similar constructions.
Spammy subject lines look like scams and ISPs could categorize your legitimate email as junk because of gimmicky, spam-like words. If you’re in doubt, change it.
Avoid including too many images and too little text
You may have noticed that a lot of spam consists of just a couple of lines and other times, no text at all. Sometimes it’s just an image and occasionally, it’s an email with a few words and many pictures.
Legitimate marketing emails have an average of 434.48 words. If you’re only including a sentence, you’re not offering much interesting content.
Why is it so important to have a healthy image-to-text ratio? Again, it boils down to not looking like a spammer. The purpose of an email is to provide relevant information. Few emails can do that in just a few words.
Of course, you can use images to illustrate your points or show the products you sell, but try to keep a balance. Images may also take longer to load if your recipient has a slower internet connection.
Another aspect to keep in mind is the links you include in your email. Try to avoid the temptation of using link shorteners – they can trigger spam filters. Instead, be fully transparent and link directly to your landing page. You want to stay away from any practice that may endanger your deliverability.
Plan a sending schedule and follow it
A common email mistake that businesses make is pulling a disappearing act.
Let’s say someone sells beach and pool merchandise. In the winter, operating hours naturally decrease. The company will just stop emailing its lists. There’s nothing to promote anyway, why bother? This marketing approach is detrimental to any business.
It’s a smart idea for email marketers to get on a schedule. Send your emails on the same day of the week or, if you send less frequently, do it no less than once a month. It’s a mistake to only send when you want something or have a new product or service to sell.
First of all, people forget about you. When you resume, they may not recognize your email and mark you as spam. Being predictable and sending your emails regularly is the opposite of how spammers behave. Not only does it build brand awareness and trust, but it also keeps ISPs aware of you.
If your services or products are rather seasonal, it’s natural to increase your email volume during your sales peak. However, to stay top of mind, continue to email your list regularly throughout the rest of the year. Create useful, entertaining content that can nurture your subscribers and keep them engaged. You’ll see much better results when it’s time to target them with a campaign.
One of the secrets to getting more eyes on your marketing emails seems obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing. You have to be where people can see you and the only way to do that is to land in the inbox.
The behavior and impetus for spammers are all about taking. With your email marketing, you must give to get. Strive for the principles of generosity and service in everything you do. Keep security, ethics and respect in mind at all times. Be of service to your readers and they will remember you and open your emails consistently.