Staying (and Getting) Out of the Spam Folder (Part 3 of 3)
We've been discussing staying out of the spam folder (and getting out if you've found your way there).
So far we've discussed list building and optins, handling unsubscribe requests, authentication, and general reputation.
Today, we're going to go over content, metrics and "backup plans" if/when things go wrong!
We could talk about content at great length because there are so many aspects to the role content plays in your message. Let's assume that you are watching your language and you avoid sounding overly promotional in your messages.
You've got to keep an eye on domains in messages (to make sure they're not on any blacklists) as well as sending and reply-to domains. It's a good idea to use the same from address as your email software and a reply-to address you have access to, but NOT a free domain like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.
Another piece of the content puzzle has to do with targeting the right message to the right segment of your list. If you're set on sending something to your ENTIRE list, consider breaking out the different segments of your list and writing different messages to different segments. Let's say you're in the fitness industry and have a program that helps people lose weight, have more energy, and build muscle.
Assuming, you've surveyed your list (or asked at the time of optin), you'll have 3 distinct messages to each audience and then a "generic" message to those that haven't self-selected into one of those categories.
Sure, it's a few minutes more time in copywriting, but your results will be much better. It will help with engagement and keep your list more active, which are both good for overall, long term, deliverability.
Other content tips:
- Limit scrolling
- Be consistent in your branding (whether just your name or a graphic header/logo)
- Host your own images
- Use alt tags for your images
- Watch text to image ratio (both size of images and percentage of text)
- Don't use link shorteners
- Watch out for Gmail clipping
We all keep an eye on open rate and click through rates. But equally important are delivery rates, unsubscribe rates and spam complaints.
All of these items can impact your overall program and they also provide clues as to what's going on overall.
For example, if you have a high unsubscribe rate on a broadcast or campaign, then you may want to study the campaign and what the cause of the actions were to avoid that in the future. Sure, every now and then, you're just going to have a campaign that doesn't perform well, but it's still a good idea to look at it and gather any clues for the future.
Additionally, when it comes to spam complaints, people often look for a magic formula. Some ESPs will say below .01%. Others will say below .03% and so on. However, there's more to that story...
If your email software sends the oldest subscribers first (i.e. first on the list, first out), which IS very common and how most systems do, in fact work, then the first people to get the message are least likely to open and click and MORE likely to click unsubscribe or spam. This is because of list atrophy. People move on to other topics, lose interest, etc.
So, let's say you email out to 100,000 people and get 30 complaints, you're within that .03% threshold. BUT... since the ISPs don't know how many people you're sending to. So, if you get 10 complaints in your first few thousand messages, the email providers look at that and may throttle your mail, send messages to other subscribers to the junk folder, etc.
Also, not ALL email providers have formal "feedback loops". Gmail, for instance, doesn't have a feedback loop system like the others so often you'll be missing the Gmail metric and can assume that your complaint rate is a bit higher. How much depends on the size of your list.
3. Backup Plans
It's important to have a plan... This isn't a matter of "if" something is going to happen. It's "when".
Some issues are simple fixes. For example, if your IP gets blocked during a send, we work on your behalf to resolve the problem. If this KEEPS happening, then you'll want to look at your program to see WHY. Are you getting high complaints? Are you hitting spam traps? Do you keep your list clean? What are you list collection practices, etc.
Often, we'll have clients ask us "if we have a problem, can I just change the IP?"
First things first... that may solve the problem for a couple of sends, but will not FIX your program. You've got to look at why the problem occurred in the first place and make the necessary changes to eliminate the problems. Next, you may need to change the sending domain as well (once you've solved the issues). You see, years ago, it was simple. Use a content filter and if you didn't have trigger words, your emails made it through.
Spammers figured it out, so email providers and ISPs changed the rules. IPs were harder to change so they looked more heavily at how an IP address performed.
You guessed it... spammers figured out the game and ISPs changed the rules again.
Each time, the algorithms get more and more sophisticated and there's no magic wand to wave to solve all of your delivery problems. It's content. It's list quality. It's engagement. It's reputation. etc. And to add to that, each provider has their OWN algorithms, so there's no checklist, of sorts, that will get you, and keep you, in tip-top condition with your email program. It takes diligent management and constant course corrections.
For over a decade Heather Seitz used email marketing to build successful companies and had to solve the biggest barrier to consistent profitability: deliverability. Today, she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Email Delivered.
This is the last part on staying (and getting) out of the spam folder http://www.emaildelivered.com/staying-out-of-the-spam-folder-part-3. Remember to sign up for the FREE Email Delivered Pulse newsletter for articles, tips, and recommended resources for email marketers.
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