5 Steps to Make Sure Emails Stay Out of the Dreaded Spam Folder – Part 1

Is your email open rate low? Are you struggling to get people on your email list to pay attention and ready your messages? If the answer’s yes, then here’s something you need to read.

There’s a process you can use to increase the likelihood that your emails will reach their intended recipients. It might seem involved but once you’ve done it, you should see an increase in your open rates – and it will be easy to maintain your non-spam status going forward.

Step 1: List Maintenance

Most people incorrectly think that having a lot of people subscribed to your list is better than having a a few subscribers. That’s a little bit true, but not really. You’re better off with a small list of engaged readers than a large list of people who mostly ignore your emails.

In the past, the main thing we had to worry about when emailing our list was the number of complaints we got from people not wanting to hear from us. If you kept that number below 1%, you were usually ok. What’s now happen is the large email systems on the market, (i.e., Google, Yahoo, etc.) are paying attention to what people do with the email messages they receive. They can tell if large number of people ignore your messages. They can then use that information to up your chances of getting sent to the SPAM or junk folder.

Here’s what you need to do. Start by identifying inactive subscribers. This means find out who hasn’t opened or clicked on any of your emails in the past 90 to 180 days. Then:

  • Send one last email to try to reengage them
  • After a few days, delete any addresses that remain inactive

Deleting inactive subscribers helps because you minimizes the chances that people who don’t want to be on your list will mark your emails as spam. It also keeps the large email systems from picking you as a spammer and marking your email messages as spam. This increases your engagement rate and that plays a role in how email providers flag spam.

Going forward, it’s a good idea to review your list regularly – once every two months should be often enough – and send out a reengagement email to inactive accounts. That way, you’ll stay on top of list maintenance and minimize the chances of things getting out of control again.

NOTE: Tools like Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) have features for managing this process automagically.  It’s a really nice reason for using it.

Step 2: Rewrite Your Subject Lines

The next step is to review and rewrite your subject lines. The first thing you MUST do is get rid of any SPAM words. We’re talking about words like:

  • Free
  • Bargain
  • 100% free
  • $$$
  • Guarantee
  • Password

Do NOT write headlines all in capital letters or with exclamation points. Anything that’s gimmicky or “salesy” will send a flag that you are a spammer.  The automated filters are programmed to flag these words and formats.

A good way to determine whether your subject lines are spammy is to open your spam folder and compare what you’re writing to what you see. Those are the headlines your spam filters are identifying as junk. If your subject lines would be more at home in the spam folder than in your inbox, it’s a good sign that your subject lines should be rewritten.

The best email subject lines are short and to the point. A good rule of thumb is to keep your email subject lines to no more than 8-10 words or 60 characters. The shorter the better.  That way, people can read the whole subject line in their inbox. Also, make sure that the subject line of your email reflects the content of the email. Nobody likes a bait and switch and that’s a big no-no.

Step 3: Create High-Quality Content 

Do you spend time crafting the content of your marketing emails or are you churning them out in a rush? If it’s the latter then it could be that sloppy or careless content is hurting you.

Start with the basics. You should be proofreading every email carefully before you send it. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suits, use Grammarly or another one of the other spelling and grammar checkers to catch mistakes.

You’ll also need to keep your emails brief and to the point. While some people may not mind getting emails that take 20 minutes to read, most people prefer something they can skim or read quickly. If you have that much to say, break up your content and create an email series.

Be careful not to include too many images. Images are bad. It looks good to break up text with images but many email providers block images. They won’t get through. If you aim for 80% text and 20% images, you should be safe from most spam filters.

I’ll send another two steps to take in part 2 of this article.




Jorge Diaz

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