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Are You a Spammer?

Are you having issues with emails going to junk folders? Your emails not being delivered as you expect? Are customers reporting you as spam?

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Are you having issues with emails going to junk folders? Your emails not being delivered as you expect? Are customers reporting you as spam? No one wants to be labeled as a spammer, but are you following the best email practices to protect your reputation? There are lots of emailing rules and filters that have been put into place to redirect spam emails. Safeguards have been put in place to ensure that the end email user is only seeing the messages that they actually want to see.

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As a business, it is important to protect your reputation in all different areas. Following good email practices will help ensure that you keep a strong, positive and mutually beneficial relationship with your customer base.

Here are some helpful things to consider before sending out an email blast. Keeping these items in mind will help protect your email reputation and make it more likely for your emails to end up in the inbox. Please note that email filters, rules and triggers are constantly being adjusted to keep up with an ever-changing environment. These types of changes are not published. However, the following best practices will help you maintain a positive reputation in the email world.

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Ensure Your Subject Lines Are Not Deceptive
Making sure that your subject line matches the overall message you have for your customer will help build trust with your customers. Tricking someone into opening your mail will lead to a higher rate of being reported as a spammer.

Send Messages to the Right People
When building your customer database, it is best to ask your customers before you start email communications with them. If a customer is not expecting a message from you or is unsure of how you got their contact information, it could start your relationship off on the wrong foot. On the same line as the email collection, you will want to be sure to honor the wishes of those who do not want to receive email messages from you any longer. A great way to utilize this is by sending your email blasts directly out of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Your CRM should have the ability to not include customers who have opted out of email communications with you. Likewise, if a customer responds to your opt-out message, your CRM should be able to automatically update that customer record without taking any additional time out of your day.

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Email lists should never be purchased. Instead, you want to only email customers with whom you have had direct contact. When you purchase email lists, it is likely that they will include “honeypot” email addresses. Honeypot email addresses are placed onto the Internet as “bait” to catch spammers.  Sending an email to a honeypot address will instantly cause you to be blacklisted.

Ensuring good data collection processes in your CRM can help significantly as well. Some CRMs will block the ability to move screens until an email address is entered for a customer. Similarly, website companies can offer squeeze pages and credit applications that require email addresses in order to be completed or to advance to the next screen. This is great in theory because it will help you acquire a better percentage of email addresses for your customers. However, actions like this will also encourage fake email addresses to be added. For example, a salesperson may start adding an email address of “[email protected]” when a customer doesn’t want to share that information with them so that they can advance to the next screen.

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When choosing who to send a bulk communication to, it is best to use more recent information.  Approximately 30 percent of people change their email address every year. So, if you are using old information for your blasts, it is likely that you are sending to email addresses that are no longer valid or may not exist anymore.

Keep in mind that emails that don’t properly target your customers are not only ineffective to your end goal, but superfluous or inaccurate emails will also reflect negatively on your brand.

Choose Your Words Wisely
Avoid common phishing triggers. Some examples of phrases and words to avoid are: “as seen on,” “buy,” “buy direct,” “compete for your business,” “subject to credit,” “save big money,” “free,” “cash,” “cents on the dollar,” “lowest price,” “no cost,” “loans,” acceptance,” “Dear ____,” “subscribe,” “click,” “this isn’t spam,” “click here,” “no catch,” “terms and conditions,” “prizes,” “the best rates,” “stuff on sale,” “the best rates,” etc. As mentioned earlier, lists like this are constantly evolving and changing, so it is best practice to change your templates up regularly to have them emulate a conversational email that you would have manually sent out. Changing these templates up once a month would be a good goal to avoid looking like automatically generated content.

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Be Mindful of Your Presentation
Avoid using all caps, different fonts, text sizes and text colors. A template or email that is only images should not be sent. Additionally, templates with too many images or links could shoot up warning signs for a spam filter as well.

Use a Paid Email Service that Allows for Bulk Emailing
Free email accounts, business accounts and marketing accounts all come with different rules, regulations and restrictions. To see more about what restrictions you have, you would want to read the fine print when you set up the email accounts. In a nutshell, when you sign up for free email accounts you are agreeing that you are going to use it for personal use, not marketing. When you go against those terms and conditions that you agreed to when creating the account, you will be blocked and have trouble with your deliverability. Same thing is true with business accounts. Business accounts are generally paid accounts, but are not created for the intent of mass email marketing. When sending out bulk email messages, you will want to be sure that you have a bulk emailing package that allows for that kind of interaction.  After signing up for a bulk emailing service, you will want to be sure to update the domain that you are using to include the appropriate SPF records for the bulk email service.

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Do Not Include Attachments in Bulk Mailings
This is a common way for viruses to be distributed and should not be included in any marketing pieces.

Send Your Campaigns from Active Email Accounts
Spam filters compare incoming and outgoing traffic to help identify messages that may be spam.

Marketing to your customers through email is more like art than a checklist. There is no specific recipe to follow for success due to all the different factors that can influence your results and deliverability. Keeping these guidelines in mind and then adjusting for your market and customer experience is bound to benefit your business. 

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Click here to view more solutions from Trista Eckman and ProMax Unlimited.

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