Today I am going to tell you a story on how to fix emails going to spam. It gets better :)

Sam and Jake started a digital marketing agency. They put in all their efforts to run their business and successfully got some good clients.

One of the clients gave them a target of 1200 leads and 300 sales in a span of two months. They created an email marketing strategy to achieve those targets. With the help of an email marketing software, they set up automated emails for the individuals who signed up on the client’s website. Unfortunately, all their emails were going straight to the subscriber’s spam box.

After one month, the clients got angry as the duo was not able to achieve even a quarter of the target. Now Sam and Jake are sitting together to find the solution. Follow their conversation.

Sam: I believe in our strategy man! Why isn’t it working out?

Jake: I think we need to dig a bit deeper. There must be some reason behind our emails landing in the spam folder. Hey! Wait a minute. I found one reason. I am reading it aloud. Do not interrupt me.

Check Out Your ESP Thoroughly

When you employ a third-party ESP for sending out emails then you must be aware of the intricacies involved in it. You should not just get any tool without performing research. Most marketers look for cost-efficient tools to run their business but fail to identify whether the tool is legit or not.

ESPs work differently than the normal mailbox providers, let us say, Gmail, or Outlook. While these mailbox providers do not have to prove the authenticity factor, ESPs must.

A well-reputed ESP usually has its own domain that ensures that the emails hit the receiver’s inbox. Other ESPs work on the concept of using your company’s domain. Meaning, they take permission from you to deliver emails on your behalf.

Your emails can land up in the spam box if you are using an inefficient ESP. It is observed as a typical behaviour of a spammer to use local email service providers to send bulk emails. Ensure that you are using a legit email service provider that passes all the authentication tests with flying colours.

Sam: Okay. That is a start. Let us have a call with our email service provider tomorrow. But I am really confused. What are these authentication tests? Is there something written about it?

Jake: Let me see. Oh! Yes. I found it. Listen.

Watch Out for These Email Authentication tests

If you are running a business and sending out commercial or promotional emails to your subscribers, your actions are being watched. To keep the spammers in check, the emails are run through a couple of email authentication tests.

One such example is the Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM). It is a domain authenticator test. If you have bought your domain recently and has not gained in a few years, then it might cause a glitch to your email deliverability.

Moreover, if you do not have a website on that domain, it increases the chances of your emails landing in the spam folder. Either use a mature domain or watch your actions. You might want to avoid sending too many bulk messages from a recently bought domain because that counts as typical behaviour of a spammer.

You can still send email blasts without spamming your subscribers but there are some definitive steps to follow.

One more example is that of the Sender Policy Framework (SPF). It checks that you are not trying to dupe customers by pretending to be someone else. If you use a forged email address, then your email will never reach your customer’s inbox.

A text-based record is stored with your DNS (Domain Name System) provider that includes all the IPs you use to send the emails. To pass this authentication test, make sure that you have an authentic email address. Plus, do not use more than 9 email servers or IPs to send emails through your domain.

Sam: Now that was interesting. I thought sending emails was easy. But there is so much to take care of. At least we are getting somewhere. But Jake, I was wondering if there are these tests then there must be some laws regarding spam emails, right? Look if there are some basic guidelines regarding it.

Jake: It is far from basic! Yes, there are Spam Laws. But they are according to different countries and locations. Okay, hear this one out.

Do Comply with These SPAM Laws

Spam laws are different for each country. If you are running a business from one country but your customers are from another country, you will have to follow the laws of both. Over the years, as spammers were getting confident and deceiving customers with click-baits, strict laws came into force to keep a check on them.

One such law is the CAN-SPAM Act by the Federal Trade Commission. Accordingly, you cannot mislead receivers by using false header information, deceptive subject lines, or covertly send an advertisement. Also, you are required to put on your full-fledged physical address in your email along with an unsubscribe link in the header as well as the footer.

Another one is the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force on 25th May 2018. It is known to be the toughest privacy and security law in the world. Quoting directly, “The GDPR will levy harsh fines against those who violate its privacy and security standards, with penalties reaching into the tens of millions of euros.” (Source)

Do check out the SPAM laws according to your customer’s location. If you fail to comply with these laws, not only will your emails go straight to spam box but also, you will face serious charges.

Sam: That was scary. I think we will have to pull an overnighter to go through all the checkpoints regarding SPAM laws. So, you mentioned that one of the laws states that we cannot use misleading headlines or subject lines. What counts as misleading?

Jake: Yes. I know about it already. But let us check it out to be sure.

Maintain These Hygiene Touchpoints

If you want to ensure that your emails do not get ported to the spam box, you need to stop using the language of a spammer. Spam emails generally contain phrases like ‘You have won a lottery’, ‘Get a chance to win $XXX’, ‘Your account is credited with $2000’ and the list goes on.

Using a monetary benefit as a subject line can ruin your chance to engage with your subscribers. The spam filters will never allow such misleading headlines to go to your subscriber’s inbox.

It does not just end with the subject lines. Your email copy and images need to be streamlined with all the hygiene checkpoints. Ensure the following touchpoints in your email body:

  • Do not use spam words like prize, lottery, money order, win $XXX, free, etc.
  • Do not put images without inserting alt texts.
  • Maintain a definitive image aspect ratio. For example: 360 x 640 px.
  • Optimize your email so that it works on both smartphones and Laptops.
  • Do not use shortened links as it counts as a click-bait.
  • Only put authenticated and genuine links and ensure that they do not get redirected to any malicious link.
  • Ensure that your emails are less than 100kb.
  • Do not use a scripted language in your copy. For example, JavaScript
  • Keep a tab on broken HTML.

You might want to make your own exhaustive checklists to include all the hygiene factors associated with sending an email. Even a simple mistake can cost you a potential customer. And you probably do not want that to happen.

Sam: Okay I think I need to check our sent emails. Did we include alt texts in the images? All this research has opened my mind. And well, email marketing is a lot to deal with. Clearly, no one can fool customers and get away with it. But after listening to all this, I realized that spamming is a serious issue. And it is somewhere a good thing that there are so many regulations, laws, tests, and checkpoints to ensure that customers are never deceived.

Jake: You are right. I think we have identified the potential touchpoints regarding where we are lacking. Let us analyse everything from the beginning. Let us get to work.

Moral of The Story

Well, Sam and Jake learned a lot about spamming and email deliverability. While they have just started their journey, there are so many marketers who are burning the midnight lamp to hit their subscriber’s inbox. Creating an email marketing strategy is important but complying with all the regulations and maintaining hygiene is equally essential.

Sam and Jake clearly got their answer.

Did you? Let me know in the comments below.

This blog is written by Shivani Srivastava. A content marketer by heart, Shivani is passionate about writing anything in the field of the technological landscape. She is written this guest blog for SendX: Email Marketing Software.

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