Learn to Think Like a Spam Filter

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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About Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Elizabeth H. Cottrell is a freelance writer, author, social media pro, and digital publisher in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She teaches small business clients how to increase visibility and build strong customer relationships. She helps authors get the book out of their head and published. She blogs for writers and authors at RiverwoodWriter.com and for small business owners and solopreneurs at SmallBizSpoken.com. She blogs about the power of connection and note writing at Heartspoken.com.

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