8 helpful tips for how to avoid the dreaded email spam filters
The Goodness Squad Podcast Episode #55
This is episode #55 of The Goodness Squad podcast. I want to take you back in time a little bit today. I want you to think about what airport security was like pre-9/11 and what airport security is like now.
I was actually on my mission during 9/11. I was at a meeting at my mission President’s house. All the sister missionaries had gathered there and that’s where I remember learning about and watching the news and finding out about 9/11.
My dad was actually in the air. He had been flying that day and my mom called to let me know that he was safe. I know that this is a strong and emotional day for all of us, but I want you to think about the difference between what airport security was like before and after 9/11.
When I left on my mission, my entire family was able to come and see me walk on the plane. There was, to be honest, very little security. That caused some problems. So now there’s very strict security, right? They check your carry-on, they scan your checked baggage. They make you take your shoes off. They make you put your bags on the belt and all your laptops and take your watch off. And you go through the image screen. And if you don’t want to do that or need additional screening, they’ll pat you down.
They’re extremely careful now at the airports. And while what we’re going to talk about today is not nearly as emotional as 9/11, I want you to think about this analogy.
What does airport security have to do with email marketing?
When email first was created, there was very little security around it. That meant that a lot of spammers learned how to get into your email inbox. They learned how to send you things that you hadn’t asked for or didn’t want. So now, there is a lot more security surrounding email and the number of emails that are allowed through, what we have learned to call, spam filters.
Sometimes this is frustrating as a subscriber, you have subscribed to somebody and you want to hear from them, but whatever they send you ends up in spam or in the promotions box in Gmail. You can’t find it because it’s been flagged as spam and you wanted it and you’re frustrated.
It’s also frustrating as somebody who’s writing and sending emails to a list of subscribers because you have great content. You know they want it and you’re excited to teach them and it ends up in spam or it doesn’t even get into their email at all. Did you know that was possible? It could just not be allowed into their inbox at all.
This is not your email service provider who is doing this. It’s not Convertkit or Drip or MailerLite. This is Gmail or Yahoo or Microsoft. These are the companies that are creating these spam filters and deciding which of your emails get in.
8 ways how to avoid spam filters
These are 8 things you can do that will help your emails avoid spam filters to land in people’s inboxes. You want your messages to get in their inbox so that they can see the content you’re sending them. This is going to do two things:
- It is going to increase your income because the more people who see your emails, the more people are going to click on them, the more people are going to want to buy from you.
- It is also going to increase your impact. And I know that just as much as income, you are motivated by wanting to make an impact in other people’s lives. You can’t help them if they don’t open your emails.
So, here are the 8 tips for how to avoid spam filters in your email marketing.
#1 – make sure it is very easy for people to unsubscribe from you.
Do not hide the unsubscribe link. Do not make it tiny and hard to find. Do not make them go through three different steps before they can actually unsubscribe.
In fact, if I’m sending out highly promotional emails, I will put an unsubscribe link right at the top saying something like, “if you no longer want to receive emails about this topic, click here.”
My main unsubscribe link is still down in the footer, which is where people look for it. But right there at the top, if they don’t want to hear about that product anymore, they can unsubscribe very quickly and easily.
Why is it important to make unsubscribing easy?
- Spam filters will look to see that you have an unsubscribe link. They will look to see and make sure that it is easy to find, that it is not hidden and buried in a whole bunch of texts.
- Another reason is because it helps to keep your list clean. You want people on your email list who open your emails. That affects how often your emails are delivered to people’s inboxes.
#2 – Avoid using all caps whenever possible, especially in the subject line.
If you have a 300-word email and two of those words are all caps it’s not going to be a big deal. But if you have an entire sentence that’s all caps or worse, an entire paragraph, or you’ve got all caps in your subject line that is going to very likely trigger the spam filters.
#3 – No clickbait.
I want you to make sure that you deliver on the promise of your subject line. We’ve talked about subject lines. We’ve talked about how to write good subject lines, but no matter how good that subject line is, if they open it and you don’t deliver on your promise, you’ve not only burned trust with your subscriber but you’ve done it with the spam filters as well.
Spam filters can tell if your subject line matches the content of your email. So make sure that you deliver on your promise.
#4 – Avoid having too many images or having an overly designed email.
These types of emails are more often sent by spammers. They send lots of flashy little graphics and tons of images and lots of different colors and big bold letters. For example, bold red headers and then the next header is purple – that reeks of spam.
#5 – Proofread your emails.
Many emails that are sent from spammers are sent from those whose first language is not English. You want to have good grammar. Make sure you proofread things and make sure your spelling is correct.
If your grammar is off, if it sounds like English is your second language in any of your sentences, that is going to trigger the spam filters. So you want to make sure to proofread your emails, go through them, have somebody else proofread them – a spouse, an older child, an assistant, have someone proofread them for you.
#6 – Avoid spammy words.
I’m going to give you a few here on the podcast, but if you would like a list then you can grab the Subject Line Blueprint. This blueprint will walk you through all your subject lines. But in addition, you will get access to my entire library full of resources. One of which is a list of words that you should avoid because these words are considered spammy type words.
So here are a few words that you want to avoid overusing: 100%, bonus, compare, last chance, open opportunity, no questions asked, no strings attached, search engines, take action now, this won’t last.
These types of words and phrases can trigger spam filters. Now, does that mean you can’t use any of these phrases in any of your emails? No, but you need to be careful about how often you use them. You shouldn’t have more than one, maybe two in an email. Stay away from them as often as possible.
Sometimes you really do need to be able to say to somebody “Join Tech School.” But be careful about how you use them, how often you use them, don’t fill your entire email full of them, and don’t put them in your subject line.
#7 – Keep your list clean.
We talked a little bit about this when we talked about number one, where your unsubscribe link needs to be very easy to find. Part of the reason why that is important is that you want to have a clean list.
If there are two people and they’re both sending out emails on the same topic, even if they send out the exact same email, same subject line, same email, but they’re sending out to two different lists.
One list is sending to Group A and one list is sending to Group B. The person who is sending this email to Group A gets a 50% open rate and the person who is sending the exact same email to Group B gets a 20% open rate, guess who is going to have more of their emails go to spam?
The person who is emailing Group B because they have a lower open rate. So that’s telling the spam filter that people don’t really want this email. Not many people are excited about receiving this email.
Your bare minimum open rate should be 20%.
My email open rates hover between 60 to 70%. That’s pretty high, but I believe it is realistic.
How do we get to those types of open rates? It’s by keeping a clean list.
What do I mean by a clean list? You want people on your list who want to be there.
This is about way more than how to avoid spam filters. This is all about really being able to serve your people. This is why you can earn more money with a high-quality, small list than you can with a low-quality, big list.
I would rather have 100 people who love hearing what I have to say, put it into action, change their lives because of what I say, by the things that I sell. I would rather have that type of a list than 1,000 people who rarely open my emails, don’t really care what I have to say. It’s more fun. It’s more rewarding and enjoyable, but it also helps you get past the spam filters.
So how do we have a clean list?
- Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.
- Clean your list often. I clean my list every two months. I figure out who is not opening my emails. I give them the opportunity to stay subscribed by emailing them and then if they don’t, I remove them from my list.
In the next podcast episode, we’re going to go into depth about exactly how to do this well and in an effective way. This is something that you should be doing regularly. As a bonus, it’s going to keep your costs down. If you’re paying for people who are on your email list, who never open your emails, that is a waste of your money. And you don’t want to waste your money.
#8 – Use one my favorite little tools – Mail Tester.
If you go to mail-tester.com they will give you a fake email address and you can send your email to that email address. Then they will give you a score on how spammy your email is so that you have a general idea if your email is going to trigger a lot of spam filters or not. This is a great tool.
A recap for how to avoid spam filters
- Make sure your unsubscribe link is easy to find and easy to use.
- Avoid all caps.
- No clickbait.
- Avoid too many images and highly designed emails.
- Avoid spammy words.
- Keep your list clean.
- Use mail-tester.com.
I alluded to it briefly earlier, but we are going to dive deep into how to keep your email list clean in episode #56. In the meantime, I wanted to remind you about the Welcome Series Master Plan. This is a series of email templates & swipe files. The emails are written for you and you just drop in your content, your topics, your own subject, your own freemium, that type of stuff.
In addition, I give you an example for each email of how I would fill in that content. And I have some videos for you that teach you how to find the right words to drop in those blanks in the swipe files. I tell you how to find the words that will really resonate with people.
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