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Learn to Think Like a Spam Filter

This post is for:

…anyone who sends out email blasts, email newsletters, or large-group emails of any kind.

Does your content (or subject line) sound spammy?

Since email is inexpensive, it’s used extensively by small businesses to get information out to their clients and prospects. It’s very effective when done correctly, and most people are still more likely to read an email than to read a message in some other electronic feed.

Sadly, many small business folks don’t write very well. They forget to concentrate on providing value to their readers and opt instead for using pushy language like SALE ENDS AT MIDNIGHT! or BUY NOW! (often accompanied by multiple exclamation points). If you’re wincing because you’ve been guilty of this, just resolve to mend your ways…now. Spam filters will view this kind of language very negatively and your message could end up in the receiver’s trash instead of their inbox.

How Do Spam Filters Think?

MailChimp is a terrific email service I use, and they have a helpful list of mistakes commonly made by email marketing rookies. Here’s what they say about what spam filters are looking for:

Spam filters look at a long list of criteria to decide whether or not an email is junk. These items are almost always on their lists of spammy criteria:

  • Going crazy with exclamation points!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS–IT’S LIKE YELLING IN EMAIL.
  • Coding sloppy HTML (usually from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML)
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green
  • Using the word “test” in the subject line
  • Creating an HTML email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text

The next time you’re sending an email to your mailing list, step back from it before you press SEND. Pretend it’s coming to you from another business. Make sure you’re not making one of the above mistakes. Also ask yourself:

  • Is it eye-catching? Have you given the recipient a reason to open your email?
  • Does it provide value (information, interest, etc.) to your readers?
  • Is there a compelling call to action?
  • If a reader has her image-viewing function turned off or is not set up to receive HTML format, will your email make any sense?

Don’t waste your energy writing emails that your recipients might never see.

What are your pet peeves for emails sent to you by other businesses? Please share in the comment section below or join the conversation at RiverwoodWriter’s Facebook Page.

Photo Credit: “Blue Website Buttons” by Legends Web Design via StockXChng
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E-mail Errors That Can Cost You Business

Welcome to today’s guest blogger, Lydia Ramsey, Author and Business Etiquette expert.

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When e-mail first came on the business scene, it was all we could do to grasp the basics of the new technology.  It was scary stuff. Now that we have been at it for more than a few years, most people have mastered the technical aspects of this part of online communication.  Sadly, there are still far too many who haven’t come to terms with the etiquette of e-mail and the rules for the wireless.

Careless use of e-mail can cost you clients, colleagues, jobs and opportunities. A cavalier approach to communicating on line can affect productivity and profitability. That is why I am asked frequently to incorporate email into my business etiquette courses. An individual or organization that ignores the need for training on this topic may soon find themselves at the back of the pack.

Think of the disruption an e-mail sent in anger can create in the office.  One employee is annoyed by the actions of another and decides to slam that person in a message sent out to his co-workers. An office war breaks out. A confidential message is forwarded without permission. Feelings are hurt and trust is lost. Not enough thought was given to the words that were used and an e-mail was misinterpreted. Valuable time was spent trying to smooth things over.  An introductory letter was sent to potential clients using their first names. Business was lost because more than half the people on the list were offended.

The first article I wrote about e-mail etiquette in business was titled, “Twelve E-mail Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Career.” We are way beyond twelve.  The wireless world has rules and the list is growing.

Consider this—most e-mail errors are caused by emotion, fatigue and haste. If you feel the need to write your message while in any of these states, do so.  However, compose it in a Word document, not in your e-mail program.  Let it sit for several hours or better yet, leave it overnight. When you come back to it later, your feelings may have changed.  If you wrote it in anger, you may have cooled off or now see things from a different perspective.  You might decide to delete the document or revise your approach. If you created a message when you were tired, you will probably find errors that you missed earlier. If you were in a hurry, you will most likely want to make changes and corrections to the original.

The best approach to dealing with e-mail when you are not at your best, is simply to wait until you are feeling better or have more time.  Unless you are replying to a message marked urgent, there is no need to send an instant response.  Your e-mail is a representation of you personally and professionally.  Let it help you build relationships, be more productive and increase your profits.

No business etiquette training is complete without time invested in a discussion of how to write email like a professional.

For more information about Lydia Ramsey’s featured presentations and products visit:

Featured Product: Rules for the Wireless DVD

Featured Presentation: Etiquette Online from E-mail to Social Networking

RiverwoodWriter offers writing, editing, and proofreading services to help small business owners and managers communicate more effectively with their clients and prospects. Don’t send out any written document or content for your website or blog without getting someone to review it first. Your reputation is at stake! Call Elizabeth at 540-436-3969 to discuss how she might help.

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