In order to prevent a newsletter from ending up in the spam folder, factors such as data quality, email address and text-to-image ratio must be taken into account.
Spam e-mail is generally used to describe unsolicited e-mails that are sent either with fraudulent intent or for marketing reasons. Nobody likes spam emails in the inbox, so spam filters are a very useful invention. For online marketers, however, it can be very annoying when a newsletter is sent with a clear conscience that does not reach some of the recipients because it is filtered out. There are various measures that can be used to avoid spam filters. In this article, learn what precautions you can take and what you should absolutely avoid.
Why do emails get into the spam folder?
To answer this question, it is important to understand the process that a newsletter, for example, goes through before it arrives in the recipient’s inbox. The technically quite complicated process can be summarized in the following simple steps, in which your e-mail is checked and evaluated: • The e-mail service provider (ESP) checks your message for factors such as spam and malware, text length, Word and character choice, ensures that your email recipients exist. In this step, the ESP also adds a digital signature to your email and converts the header and content of your email. • Your recipient’s e-mail client or Internet Service Provider (ISP) will then check your e-mail for additional criteria, such as your sender’s reputation (if you are on a blacklist, they will be sorted out at this point), the correct SPF and DKIM, metadata, format and structure of your email. Even if the recipient’s inbox is full, the email will be rejected. • If the e-mail is generally accepted, it is compared in a second check by the ISP with its own spam filter and the sender’s reputation is checked. Your email will only appear in your recipient’s inbox when all three exams have been passed. If one of the checks is negative, your email will either be rejected (a so-called return or bounce) or will end up in the recipient’s spam folder. it is compared in a second check by the ISP with its own spam filter and the sender’s reputation is checked. Your email will only appear in your recipient’s inbox when all three exams have been passed. If one of the checks is negative, your email will either be rejected (a so-called return or bounce) or will end up in the recipient’s spam folder. it is compared in a second check by the ISP with its own spam filter and the sender’s reputation is checked. Your email will only appear in your recipient’s inbox when all three exams have been passed. If one of the checks is negative, your email will either be rejected (a so-called return or bounce) or will end up in the recipient’s spam folder.
Why are spam filters such a big problem in email marketing?
Email marketing costs money. Not only for the software used, but also for the resources used, for editors, designers and marketing experts who create content and graphics, evaluate the data and optimize your campaigns. The fewer the emails sent reach their intended destination, the fewer the number of recipients who will read your emails, click on links and complete a conversion. So it is simply a wasted budget. In addition, your sender reputation is one of the most important factors in successful email marketing. The more you, as the sender, are associated with the topic of spam, the worse your metrics will be and the less successful you will be with your email campaigns. It is therefore important to avoid the spam filter as much as possible and reduce the proportion of e-mails
How do you avoid your emails being rated as spam?
Many different factors lead to emails ending up in the spam folder, which can be roughly divided into three groups: technical settings, data quality and content. In the following you will find ten tips with which you can pass the spam filter:
1. Verification of the domain An important measure to prevent your e-mails from ending up in the spam folder is the verification of your domain. Systems like SPF, DKM or DMARC show Internet service providers that the sender is reputable, not a spam address. Email marketing software usually offers the possibility of such a verification.
2. Selection of the sender email addressThe email address that you use to send your newsletters and other marketing emails plays an important role in assessing your credibility. It is better to avoid free web-based e-mail addresses and instead link your e-mail address to an active website. For example email@example.com. You should also avoid noreply @ addresses to give recipients a chance to reply to your e-mails. The fact that such a response is possible is one of the factors that are checked by the ISP and used to evaluate your sender reputation.
3. Spam-proof structure of the contact listAn email list with many recipients is often considered to be an important asset of a company and one of the main goals in email marketing. It is therefore not surprising that many companies are at least considering buying email addresses rather than the hassle of building the list naturally. Apart from the fact that the GDPR prohibits the purchase of contact data, such a purchased list can damage your deliverability and thus your sender reputation. The recipients of the purchased contact list probably do not know your company and will therefore not open your e-mails and may even mark them as spam. Bad open rates and spam flags can cause your emails to end up in the spam folder. We therefore strongly advise against buying e-mail addresses – and ultimately, recipients will benefit you,
4. Double-Opt-In-Procedure Most companies realize, at the latest with the GDPR, that the double-opt-in-procedure is mandatory in email marketing. This means that you are not allowed to immediately send promotional e-mails to a recipient who has signed up for your e-mails, but must make sure that they want to receive your e-mails in the first place. You therefore send an email with a confirmation link. Only when this is clicked will the email address be added to your contact list. With this procedure you not only comply with the legal requirements, you also ensure that all recipients have actively consented to receive your e-mails. This increases the likelihood that your messages will be opened and less likely that you will be marked as spam.
5. Regular cleaning of the contact listIt is perfectly normal for a percentage of your recipients to delete your emails unopened or to leave them unread in their inbox. If this happens over a long period of time (a good guideline is three months), it is a so-called “inactive recipient”. You can try to re-interest these recipients with a reactivation campaign. If this does not succeed, inactive recipients should be deleted (ideally after you have indicated in a last e-mail that he or she will be removed from your list and that no more e-mails will be received from you). In this way you actively improve your open rate and ensure that you do not spend any money on inactive recipients. Another way to clean up your contact list is to evaluate the returns (bounces). A bounce means that your e-mail did not reach the recipient, for example because the e-mail address no longer exists or the recipient’s mailbox is full. The bounce rate should be as low as possible and ideally 0 percent. By removing the bounces, you lower your bounce rate and improve your sender reputation.
6. The e-mail subject line In addition to the sender, the subject line determines whether an e-mail is opened and read. With an interesting subject line, you’ll ensure a good open rate and improve your sender reputation. How you formulate the optimal subject line would lead too far at this point, but consider factors such as the length of your subject, the choice of words, personalization and “eye-catchers” such as punctuation marks, numbers or symbols.
7. Avoid spam wordsCertain words have a particularly high probability of being classified as negative by spam filters. This is especially true for terms from topics that are particularly often interpreted as spam. These include finance, gambling, pharmaceuticals and dating. Make sure you avoid these words in the subject line and check whether they are necessary in the content of the email. There are extensive lists of potentially spam-prone terms. Examples of these are profit, gift, free and lose weight.
8. Pay attention to the text-image ratioA good balance between text and picture (60:40 or 70:30) sets you apart from spammers who like to send emails with a single large picture and little text. Also keep in mind that images that are too large can worsen the loading time and may even be blocked by e-mail clients for security reasons.
9. Send e-mails regularly If you only send a newsletter once a year, the probability is very high that some of the recipients cannot remember to have registered for your e-mails and accordingly delete them or even delete them without reading them marked as spam. Call them back to your recipients on a regular basis and ensure that your e-mails are read with interesting, ideally personalized content.
10. Carry out spam tests Carry out a spam test before sending your e-mail. Various criteria are checked that are usually used by spam filters. The result of such a test is a “spam score”, which tells you how likely your e-mail will end up in a spam filter. If the spam score is too high, you have the option of adjusting your email, for example the subject line.
Conclusion: good technical basis, high data quality and content factors
As you have seen, there are numerous factors to consider in order to avoid the spam folder. Set up your e-mail marketing in a technically professional manner with a verified domain and a trustworthy e-mail address. Do not buy any e-mail addresses, but build your e-mail list in compliance with data protection regulations and clean up your contact list regularly. Pay careful attention to your subject line and the content of your e-mails, send regular messages to your recipients and, if in doubt, use a spam test. With the 10 tips from this article, you will be well prepared to successfully pass the spam filter.
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