Spam hardly needs any introduction if you frequently send email campaigns. According to Statista "spam messages are accounted for 28.5 percent of email traffic worldwide in 2019, down from 59.8 percent in 2016."
What is spam?
Spam is considered to be unwanted, irrelevant messages, often email that is sent in bulk. The word itself means Unsolicited Bulk Email ("UBE").
The spam filter
The spam filter's job is to detect these unwanted and unsolicited emails and keep them away from the user's Inbox because these emails often want to trick you and get something out of you.
It's a bit difficult to narrow down what is the spam filter exactly looking for or to even define it. Not all spam filters work in the same way. Every company, mailbox provider, or individual even can create or have their own algorithm or software to be or work as a spam filter.
Spam filters are smart, and they are getting smarter every day, so making a list of what the spam filter is looking for won't always be accurate. No matter what you do, the email will always go through a spam filter, it's inevitable. Yes, even if the email arrives into let's say in the 'promotions' folder, the email passed through some spam filter.
Before the email gets to the spam filter, it needs to pass through a firewall. Based on the reputation scores, the firewall decides if the email should be blocked or not. Here is a nice checker tool to see if your email was blocked by a firewall.
There are many firewalls and they don't always function the same, but their main purpose is to monitor the behavior of users on the server, and they share this information with other firewalls.
A firewall determines spam once you send an email to your recipients, and someone marks your email as spam. Remember that the server learns from the recipient! This means if the recipient thinks the email is spam and reports it as such to the SenderBase (the world's largest email monitoring network), you can get on a blacklist. If you get a certain number of spam reports, your data will be shared with other firewalls, to inform them that you are sending spam emails.
The firewall affects senders based on domain and IP address. So once your domain name gets on a blacklist, all emails with your name will be blocked by the firewall. It's important to measure your deliverability, because your delivered emails may not even reach the Inbox. You may have some bounce rate or spam placemats, and a small percentage of your delivered emails may not even reach your subscribers. You can easily track the delivery rate in Loopify's email reports. And all this could potentially increase your spam rate with time, and your email may never reach your subscribers.
So how do you pass through spam filters and email firewalls?
Before we start we'd like to point out that there's no easy way to do this. But here are some things to keep in mind and avoid some common mistakes:
- Unsubscribe link is a must! - All I'm going to say is that's illegal not to allow your recipients to unsubscribe.
- Introduce a double opt-in.
- Use your own domain - It's important to have your own domain because a free email address can be often used by spammers. Of course in Loopify you can register your own sending domain, and set up your DNS. It's important to finish your DNS setup before you start sending emails because it will help other mail servers to recognize and trust you.
- Don't try to send to previously bounced emails - hard bouncers appear when the email is non-existent or invalid. If your hard bounce number is high, your email can appear on the blacklist.
- Regularly clean up your email list - In Loopify, we offer you a great way to easily clean your list from contacts that have not set or declined consent. This way you don't have to keep sending emails to inactive or closed accounts.
- Sending frequency and quantity - You don't want to send too often or too infrequently. Learn how to avoid the spam folder with domain warm-up and carefully choose your sending frequency to achieve your best performance.
- Check if you are a blacklisted sender - Reputation is important. If your IP address is with a poor reputation your emails will land in the spam folder. So, check if you are a blacklisted sender to maintain your reputation or you can read our article on how to whitelist senders.
- Have an option to open the email in a browser - some email clients may display the email badly, so it's nice to have an option to view the email as a webpage.
- Test your emails before sending them - The results of your test might also help you improve deliverability. When you test the campaign internally the testers should click as much as possible, as registered interest might improve your reputation.
- Don't use caps anywhere - sure it gets the attention when you are yelling at people, it's very spammy.
- Try to use Alt text - sometimes an email client can block/not display your images. Having an alt text will at least give the subscriber an option to understand the message.
- Don't use embedded forms in email - forms in email are not supported because of security. Use a CTA button to link to a landing page or link to your form.
- Don't include exclamation points - if you use a lot of them in a row in your subject line or in your email, in general, will look spammy and it's unprofessional.
- Remember to check Email Deliverability - there are plenty of tools to check the deliverability, for example, MxToolBox will let you test the deliverability by sending a test email, or Spamchek will examine your plain text message to find trigger words for spam filtering.
- Never buy/rent email lists - this is quite obvious why it's a bad idea. There is a high chance that people won't actually know you and will mark your email as spam, and buying lists may also be illegal to use in some countries.
- Use a recognizable sender name - The first thing you see when you receive an email is the sender's name. If the sender is not recognizable the recipients report the email as spam or delete it.
- Pay attention to the wording and length of your subject line - Avoid spam trigger words. And not just spam words but also try to avoid invisible text, for example, white font on the white background.
- Don't use attachments to your email - don't just attach some files like Excel, Word, or PDF on the email, instead keep the file on your website and link to that location.
Loopify will always try to send and deliver to as many contacts as possible. We have rules in order to help out your deliverability by for example not sending to unsubscribed or hard-bounced contacts. Getting through to an inbox is complicated and even doing all the right things might still not get you a 100% delivery rate as in the end, it will also depend on how strict your audience has set up their email account.
There is no magical secret that can be used for you to avoid the spam folder. ISPs, ESPs, and anti-spam laws around the world are strict, and there is no guarantee that your deliverability will improve. But if you focus on maintaining a healthy list of contacts, send the content your recipients truly want, and encourage them to interact with your campaign - delivery will follow. ✌