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Avoid These Common Mistakes That Get Your Email Marked As Spam

By Anissa Starnes, Director, National Organizations for Constant Contact

You work hard to build trust with your customer base and you value your relationships with your customers. Even so, you may be struggling with your emails being reported as spam along with so many other businesses. It’s frustrating when you spend time cultivating the right message for your audience, send your email, and are met with a handful of spam complaints in response. How can this be avoided?

The trouble is that many email users decide that your email is unwanted and automatically click to “report as spam.” Email spam reports are a matter of opinion, and laziness to unsubscribe causes many businesses to receive spam complaints. This makes it difficult to figure out what you’re doing wrong.

Although there is no guaranteed way to completely avoid spam reports, there are certainly actions that can be taken to lower your spam reports. Here are some bad email marketing practices to quit now and improve your spam reports: 

1. No option to unsubscribe

While it may be difficult to let go, not everyone is interested in receiving your emails. It’s better—and it’s the law—to give them the option to opt out than to try to force them to stay.  Oftentimes, if there is no choice to unsubscribe, people will mark emails as spam to simply get off a list. It’s also important to monitor your company inbox for replies from people requesting to be removed from your distribution list and remove them in a timely manner.

2. Emails that are irrelevant to your business

Many emailers believe that the only content marked as spam is that which is bad or offensive. However, this is not the case. Often, the worst offense you can commit is to include content that simply isn’t interesting or relevant to the people you’re reaching out to. Although this won’t necessarily get you marked as spam every time, it will ensure that your emails will be sent straight to the trash without the recipient giving you a second thought. This is why it’s important to pay attention to what’s working with your audience. Review your open and click-through rates to see what is resonating with your audience, and use that intel to inform your future content. If this isn’t providing the information you need, you can always ask your audience! Use an online survey to collect feedback or update your sign-up form to include options for people to choose what content they want to receive through your emails.

3. Concealing your identity

If people don’t recognize that your emails are coming from you, often times they will mark your email as spam even if you have their permission. It’s important to use a familiar name and email address. Use an email that includes your business’s website. It often helps to purchase your own domain so your email is easily recognizable to your customers. Another easy fix is to add your branding to the emails that you send out. Include your logo in a prominent location at the top of your email and choose color themes that represent your business.

4. Inundating your audience’s inbox

While there are many different ways to overwhelm your audience, a common mistake businesses make is sending too much promotional content. Selling your products or services is an important part of email marketing, but too much could be driving some people away. You need to find a balance in the type of material you’re sending out. As a standard, try to stick to 80 percent helpful and informative content and 20 percent promotional.  When you are including promotional content, make sure it’s timely and relevant to the person you’re trying to reach. If your email can solve a problem a person is facing at the time it is read, it is received much more positively. Another mistake that can overwhelm your audience is sending emails too frequently. Even emails that are jam-packed with helpful content can be perceived as spam if you’re sending too frequently.

5. Not providing what’s expected

Many times, people are signing up to receive your emails because they have a supposed value. It’s necessary to communicate clearly what that value is with your audience.  If you don’t send what they’re signed up to receive, you could be putting yourself at risk. Give subscribers clear expectations before they share their email address. Let them know how often they’ll be hearing from you, what type of information they’ll receive and what value they’ll gain from signing up. After receiving their email address, set up a welcome email to reaffirm their decision and remind them what they’re going to be sent.

6. Not getting consent

People open emails from people they know, and they delete or mark as spam emails from people they don’t recognize. It’s really that simple. By gaining permission from your audience before sending emails, you’ll have the best results in developing long-lasting email marketing relationships. When you do ask permission, you’re able to build an accurate list of people who are interested in your product or service. You’ll find people who will be excited to hear from you. These people are the ones who are more likely to open and click-through your email and less likely to mark it as spam. You will stay in contact with them longer than those added to your email list without their consent.

Not only will you be sent to the spam or trash folder, but you will not be in compliance with legislation such as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-Spam) and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

Hopefully, after reading these tips, you’ll be able to solve some of your spam setbacks. If you’re focused on providing value to your email audience and are taking the right steps to obtain permission, you’re already on the right track to avoiding spam complaints.

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