Minimizing Spam Complaints
Spam has steadily grown since the early 1990s, and is a real issue in the email community. As a result, spam filters algorithm have evolved accordingly to improve quality of incoming emails, by removing unsolicited spams and potential viruses. Avoiding spam filters is about staying compliant and understanding how your email campaign looks in it's entirety. This article covers the basics of spam filters and tips to keep spam complaints to a minimum for your email domain.
Overview of Spam
Spam filters use a lot of different criteria to judge incoming email. Each factor is weighed and added up to assign a spam score, which determines if a campaign will pass through the filter. Passing scores vary depending on the server, so a campaign might pass through some filters but not others.
When engaging in email marketing, it's important to be informed of the major laws surrounding email and stay compliant. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is "a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations."
How to identify you may have spam issues
It's not always obvious if you have spam complaint problems. Here are a few ways to spot them:
- Take a closer look at the stats in your campaign results. See if you have high rate of bounces consistently over multiple campaigns. Also look at your open rates to see if they in the single percentages.
- Run a spam test. Services like Litmus help to check whether if an email is ending up in Spam using a series of standard filters and testing with the common email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.
- Some other questions to trigger spam flag:
- Are you importing a purchased list of ANY kind?
- Are you sending to non-specific addresses such as: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or other general addresses.
- Are you sending to distribution lists or mailing lists which send indirectly to a variety of email addresses?
- Are you mailing to anyone who has not explicitly agreed to join your mailing list?
- Have you falsified your originating address or transmission path information?
- Have you used a third party email address or domain name without their permission?
- Does your email's subject line contain false or misleading information?
- Does your email fail to provide a working link to unsubscribe?"
- Are you failing to process any unsubscribe requests that come to you via a reply to your email within 10 days or the request
- If you have answered yes to any of the above questions you may be labeled as a spammer.
Tips to keep spam complaints to a minimum
- Get recipient permission: Make sure your sign-up form comes with an explicit permission statement. This statement should indicate the type of content in your emails as well as your sending frequency (for example, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). Limit sending marketing campaigns to those that have opted-in.
- Give subscribers the option to choose email frequency: Add a frequency preference setting to your subscription form so that subscribers can choose how often they would like to hear from you. Often times, sending too much communication can burn out a subscribe and easily reported as a spam.
- Clearly identify sender organization: Ensure that the From Address and all subject lines clearly identify you and your organization. Many contacts will report an email as spam before opening if they do not recognize the sender. If you have not sent email to your customers within 6 months, we recommend using the confirmation process to invite them back to your list.
- Send with a email with business domain: Mass email that comes from what resembles personal email addresses (those ending with gmail.com or yahoo.com) are often suspects of spam. We suggest you invest to register for a business domain in order to come across as more professional organization.
- Use double opt-in: The confirmation process means that anyone who signs up using your sign-up form will be sent a confirmation-request email. They must click a link in that confirmation message to be officially added. This not only reminds your users that they signed up for your newsletter, but also provides evidence that your list is entirely permission-based in the event you receive complaints. Furthermore, the double opt-in process helps maintain the quality of your list by preventing accumulation of invalid or mistypes emails.
- Clean your list: By removing emails that lowers your open rates and increasing bounces, you can improve your overall email deliverability. Certain email services (e.g., Gmail) tracks the open rates of emails from your domain. Low open rates will likely be penalized by deliverability.
- Avoid words that may trigger spam alert: Using a lot of symbols or using all CAPS may trigger red flags for spam. Other examples include sales phrases such as "ACT NOW!", "100% FREE", "LIMITED TIME ONLY" can also be suspect of spam. Try avoiding these trigger words in your subject line and messages as much as possible.
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