In my last blog post, I discussed ways of getting people to sign up for an e-newsletter. Now I will talk about how to help make sure your e-newsletter or other email sendings actually get to the people who want them.
ISPs are understandably on a mission to block the emails people don’t want, and to let in the emails their customers do want. Many spam emails do get blocked through their efforts, but unfortunately some legitimate emails also get blocked accidentally. As a sender, you might know what the official definition of spam is, but to an end user, spam might just mean something they aren’t interested in right now. Did you know that some users use the report spam button as a way to unsubscribe from a sending they no longer want instead of using the unsubscribe link provided in the email? Did you know that some email recipients use the report spam button on their email client as a delete key? Did you know that you can even get banned for being on the same ISP as someone else whose emails were labeled as spam, either rightly or wrongly? It’s unfair, but it is possible to get on banned lists without ever doing anything wrong. The retail holiday season we’re in now brings an increase in commercial email traffic, and with it more potential false spam reports as people get impatient with all the email they’re getting.
What can be done to help make sure your emails are getting to your customers, and your customers’ emails are getting to you? Here are some suggestions:
- If you use forms on your web site, test them using multiple email addresses from different domains. You might find that your forms will accept emails from some domains and not others. If that happens, contact your site’s host for help.
- On the success pages and acknowledgement messages from your forms, suggest that users add your email address or addresses to their approved senders lists (whitelists).
- Check all the email links on your web site periodically to make sure you actually get the emails. In addition, make a list of all the email accounts you have, with login information, and keep the list in a safe place. Check the spam folders on all of them on a regular basis. Many email accounts will stop working when the spam folder or the trash folder gets full. Also some legitimate emails might be caught by your spam filter, so you’ll want to add those email addresses to your lists of approved senders. Some customers will try another way to contact you if they don’t get an answer from your email, but most will just give up.
- Have your web developer program an appropriate subject line in capital letters into all the email links on your site. Although use of all caps is something I normally stay away from, in this case I do use them because it makes the emails sent from my web site much easier to distinguish from all the spam.
- Examine your email sendings, including acknowledgement messages from forms, for characteristics that might cause them to be mistakenly flagged as spam. The following resources provide helpful guidelines:
- Gmail Bulk Senders Guidelines
- AOL Sender Best Practices
- Hotmail Guidelines
- Yahoo! Mail Best Practices
- Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group Sender Best Communications Practices
- Why My Emails Get Blocked or Filtered: Causes and Solutions Inside
Some email sending software, such as ExactTarget, has a built-in content checker that will alert you to possible problems in the text of your email, such as "Click here" or "Free".
- Only send to engaged recipients. Believe it or not, some major ISPs are starting to flag messages as spam just because the end user doesn’t open them. Consider sending periodic updates to subscribers to verify if they still want to be on your subscriber list.
- Open up other channels to help compensate for the people you’re not reaching by email, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, a Webinar for One Brainshark presentation, text messaging, and voice messaging. At Webinar Resources we use ExactTarget’s social forward feature to add social media links to our customers’ emails to drive customer acquisition.
Consider not having your email forwarded from one account to another, but getting all of it right from the source. The article Tips to avoid getting your server blocked by Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail explains why.