How E-mail Response Can Survive the Spam Filter Gauntlet

For e-mail marketers to deliver those open-worthy, click-inspiring e-mail messages, they must pass through a gauntlet of spam filters determined to weed out irrelevant, unsolicited inbox clutter and scam. That’s why, as an e-mail list brokerage, AccuList USA works to not only vet the opt-in e-mail rental lists we recommend but also to insure success by advising on CAN-SPAM compliance, privacy policies, creative and deliverability issues. We’re glad to pass along a recent Target Marketing magazine article with some basic tactics that may help prevent spam filters from draining the response of your next e-mail campaign.

Do You Look Like Spam?

The first step to making sure your e-mail campaign doesn’t run afoul of spam filters is to understand the basics of U.S. anti-spam legislation (CAN-SPAM): no use of deceptive headers, sender names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines; provision, without exception, of an unsubscribe link that remains working for at least 30 days after sending; and inclusion of a physical address. ISPs use spam filters to try to net out potential e-mail offenders and reduce spam complaints. The filters scrutinize and score a range of e-mail elements, and prevent e-mails with high “spam” scores from reaching inboxes. The challenge for e-mailers is that different mail servers use different scoring algorithms, the algorithms are confidential, and filter criteria may periodically change.

Tactics to Get Past Spam Filters

Despite those challenges, Target Marketing article author Michael Lundberg suggests several ways for e-mails to avoid being netted out by spam filters. Since permission-based e-mail is an essential requirement, spam filters try to insure that the sender and recipient are acquainted; this is why personalization of the “to” field, sending from a verified domain, and asking recipients to add your e-mail address to approved contacts are all smart policies. Content counts in spam filter scoring, but the filter algorithms’ exact triggers in terms of specific text or images are unknown, so the best policy is to have a clear, engaging template sent to those who have opted in to receive e-mail, Lundberg advises. Sloppy code and extra tags can flag spam to filters, so use popular e-mail templates or work with an experienced e-mail designer. To avoid the risk of putting all your apples in one e-mail design basket, use A/B or multivariate testing to find the best combination of content and targeting for filter-proofed delivery and inbox engagement, suggests Lundberg. We would add that a high rate of undeliverables and bounces in an e-mail deployment also signals spam to ISPs, so make sure any e-mail list–house database or prospecting effort–meets industry standards in its permission policies and hygiene, which are priorities in AccuList USA rental recommendations.

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