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Hints, tips and advice on avoiding spam filters

By Stuart McLaren on Thu 09 August 2012 in Email Marketing

Here are some of our key tips & tricks to avoid those pesky spam filters...

The number 1 hint for avoiding spam filters

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the number 1 way to avoid spam filters is to make sure that you don’t spam!

Not spamming means that you only send relevant content to a targeted audience – the very fact that you are reading this means that we have achieved this, you clearly have an interest in email marketing and avoiding spam filters!

Sounds obvious, I know, but actually it means much more than you may think at first glance. By paying attention to this mantra you will not only help avoid spam filters, you will also increase the effectiveness and results from your emails.

Please read on for the additional information on the details of content control by spam filters.

Is spam as big of a problem for email marketing as you think?

Email marketing is one of the most powerful, immediate, cost-effective and measurable marketing channels available to marketers. The only problem is 90% of all emails sent are considered spam. Whilst 47 – 48% of these are sent by botnets (networks of infected computers) there are obviously still a large number of innocent marketers getting it wrong. In addition, getting marked as spam doesn’t just mean your recipient doesn’t receive your eshot, it also reduces the reputation of your company and increases your chances of getting black listed – something you do not want to happen.

I know myself that trying to avoid spam filters can be very frustrating, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time perfecting your message and design. So how do you ensure you’re not going to be caught by spam filters or worse be black listed?

6 ways to reduce the number of your emails getting blocked by spam filters

  1. The right selection of words; it might seem obvious but identifying spammy words is the oldest way of filtering emails. They can be in your content or subject line and range from ‘sex’ to ‘guarantee’ and be a singular word or combination. In fact the spam filters also take in to consideration your grammar e.g. an exclamation mark after almost any word is going to cause you issues.
  2. Pay attention to your formatting. We spoke a lot about layout and formatting in our last article, however this was with the recipient experience in mind. Getting your formatting past a spam filter means there are some slightly different considerations:
  3. Use a spam checker to identify Phishing. A standard inbox filter will look for URLs in your content (http:// and www.). If the link destination and the link text don’t match you’ll be accused of phishing. It’s as simple as that and easier to do than you might think.
  4. Unsubscribe and contact information: It is now a legal requirement in the UK (and many other countries) to have an unsubscribe option in your eshots. By not doing this, not only are you breaking the law but you’re also reducing your deliverability rate. Including an unsubscribe link along with your company contact information makes you look far more trustworthy in the eyes of the spam filters (there’ll be more on utilising your unsubscribes next time).
  5. Don’t use your own IP address. I’m sure you’ve heard of people being blacklisted and using your own IP address is exactly how it happens. If you do get blacklisted not only will this disrupt your whole business but it will dramatically reduce the reputation of your organisation. There are now so many solutions that provide a rotating IP address there really is no excuse to be using your own.
  6. Test, test, test. Without a doubt testing is your best chance of beating spam filters and increasing your deliverability. This allows you to check your spam scores, identify formatting errors in various different inboxes and make changes before hitting send. Don’t leave your marketing efforts to chance; you can never send too many tests.

Spam filters aren’t your only hurdle

Once you’ve made it through the spam filters you’ve overcome most of the battle. However you do still have to get the email past your recipients…

  • Consistency is key, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Be consistent with your template, sender name and time of sending; your brand will be recognised and your emails will be expected.
  • Build trust, this is easy if you’re honest, consistency has a big part to play here as well. No one wants to be lied to, make sure your subject line matches your content.
  •  Selective sending, whether they’re a customer or not no one wants to hear from you every day – it’s nothing against you they just don’t have time; if it’s not interesting don’t send it.

The BEST way to beat spam filters and increase deliverability

You don’t need me to tell you that trying to manually avoid everything we’ve listed above would be almost impossible. But, as the amount of spam increases so do the number of tools to check your emails.

So what do we think the best way to beat spam filters is?

By now you’re probably thinking, well I know that, it must be a spam checker and whilst this is a brilliant tool believe it or not it gets better…

Inbox checkers provide you with a spam score and formatting breakdown for a variety of different inboxes from Outlook to Hotmail and Gmail to Yahoo. You can even see screen shots of your eshot on a tablet, iPhone and blackberry.

The inbox checker covers all bases with an individual spam score for each inbox/device and a screen shot of how your eshot will appear to the recipient. In my opinion there is no better way of avoiding spam filters and improving your recipient’s experience.