8 ways to get emails through customers’ spam filters

In this day and age you can’t go 5 minutes with out spam creeping into your inbox! Luckily for us at Coast Digital we use top-of-the line spam filters which catch 90% of these emails before they get too close.

But unfortunately this also means we have to fight even harder to ensure delivery of marketing messages. In fact it’s a huge challenge to guarantee delivery of genuine emails. As spam filters become ever-more sophisticated, deliverability has become the number one issue for email marketers.

Here are my top tips for getting emails to your customers’ inbox.

1. Choosing the right email system
The system you use to send email plays a large part in how many of your messages get through. There are lots of systems out there offering an abundance of features to ensure your emails are as targeted as possible.

More importantly, the majority of them will be white-listed with all the major email providers. So it’s worth asking who they’re white-listed with, and if you’re sending high volumes, how many emails they can send to these providers (safely) in an hour?

2. Double opt-in
To comply with data protection legislation you should only ever send emails to people who have opted-in to receive your communications. And to increase the quality of your list – if nothing more – you should also use a double opt-in.

In this way not only do users have to sign-up on your site, they also have to click on a link in the email you send confirming their wish to receive your electronic communications: the double-opt in.

And while spam filters don’t actually take opt-ins into account, this approach gives you the opportunity to ask users to add you to their “white list”. Which leads nicely to my next point.

3. Encourage users to "white list" you
At every possible opportunity you should encourage users to “white list” your email address. If a user white lists your address, it means that each piece of correspondence you send will always get through to their inbox.

You can ask users to do this from a very early stage, i.e. directly after their initial sign-up, and follow up with a double opt-in email, and in then again in any future correspondence.

In fact a lot of big brands offer a page on their website with step-by-step instructions on how to “white list” them for most of the most major email providers (hotmail, gmail, etc). And they’ll offer a link to this page in all their email communications.

4. No attachments
Whatever you do, don’t send attachments with your emails unless you can guarantee that your messages will be delivered (even then I wouldn’t recommend it). Attachments can contain viruses and so will always attract a lot of attention from spam filters.

5. Send HTML emails with an alternative plain text version
Always send a plain text version of HTML emails. This means even if the user can’t view or receive HTML emails, then they’ll still be able to view your plain text version.

And if you’re really not keen on creating a plain text email then use it to link to a (website) hosted version of your HTML email. This way, the user will still see the HTML version, but via their browser rather than their email client.

6. Watch out for trigger words
Spam filters scan email content for trigger words and use this information to determine if a message is spam. Obviously words like Viagra (and other sex-related words) are an absolute no-go, but there are words that seem quite relevant that can still cause problems. See here for a good list: http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/spamwords.htm.

Always run your content through a spam checker before sending. A good spam checker will generally pick up on any problem words.

7. From address
Watch out for trigger words in your from-address. Even if the sole purpose of your email is to promote special offers from your website, don’t send it from special-offers@domain.com.

This is an easy mistake to make, and one that can be easily overlooked even by spam checkers.

8. Subject line
The subject line is the most important line of text in any email campaign. If you get it wrong your open rate will take a big hit even if your message makes it through the spam filters!

Make sure your subject line doesn’t contain any trigger words. And make it enticing and relevant so that the user will really want to open the email.