If you're looking to improve the emails you're sending an ultimately prevent your emails from going into spam folders, getting marked as spam, and not hitting a spam trap, you're in the right place. This article is meant to help you understand the difference between spam reports, traps, and folders and what you can do to prevent all 3. The top half of the article will explain the difference between them. If you already know the meanings, feel free to skip down to the best practices.
Spam Traps vs Spam Reports
While they are commonly thought of as the same thing, spam reports are indeed different from spam traps. Spam reports are when the email recipient (your lead) actively marked your email as spam. This usually represents irrelevant content being sent to the lead. For example, you may have sent a mass email to your entire database about an open house this weekend. However, you sent that email to a lead that you've never gotten on the phone and they aren't looking in that area. They could mark you as spam to prevent receiving further content from you and this results in harming your sender reputation.
Spam traps are fraud management tools used by ISP's to identify spammers and block their emails for their users. Spam traps are usually accounts that have expired and now the ISP is using it to trap spammers. For example, you could send an email to your entire database about an upcoming raffle at your office. In your database, you could have an old lead that you haven't communicated with in a year. In that year, their yahoo email account expired and Yahoo is now using it as a spam trap. Now that you've hit that spam trap, Yahoo is blocking all emails from you to any Yahoo user.
Spam Filters & Email Firewalls
Spam filters are essentially a long list of criteria that determines the level of "spamminess" that an email has. Emails are given a score based on said criteria. If the score reaches a certain threshold, the email will be sent to a spam folder instead of an inbox. There is not a standard threshold that causes the email to hit the spam folder. It is different for each person you email because it's different for each email server administrator.
Under the "Best Practices" section below, you can find the top ways you can avoid getting sent to spam because of spam filters.
Email firewalls function similarly to spam filters in the sense that they can send your emails to a spam folder, but they rely on slightly different criteria. Email firewalls are used by ISP's, large corporations, and some small businesses. They are essentially gatekeepers.
Unlike spam filters, email firewalls rely on sender reputation before they even get to the spam filter criteria. Each email firewall calculates sender reputation differently, so it's important to ALWAYS be sending relevant, non-spammy emails. When you're reported on these firewalls, it is hard to get off.
1. Do NOT buy or rent email lists!
Many lists are advertised as "100% opt-in" or being "custom targeted", but don't always believe it! These lists may have emails and contacts that have "opted in", but there is an extremely high chance that they were not opting in to YOUR emails and will end up reporting you as spam. Lists are also widely known to have spam traps as mentioned above.
2. Keep your lists current and clean.
ISP's base spam reports on your ACTIVE leads, not your TOTAL leads. So, if you send an email to 1,000 leads and only 800 of those leads get the email in their inbox, ISP's base any spam reports on those 800. This makes any spam reports turn into a higher percentage than if it was out of the 1,000 that you sent. The higher the percentage of spam reports = the worse your sender reputation gets.
Older emails also turn into spam traps and unknown accounts. Sending emails to unknown accounts also harms your sender reputation. (See Spam Trap section above)
Here are some quick tips:
- Use a label for your "engaged" leads (or use the Lead Engagement filter for this)
- Use a different label for your "unengaged" leads (or use the Lead Engagement filter for this)
- When sending emails about local events or open houses, use the Favorite City filter so that you're emailing leads in the specific area
- If you're looking to send an email to your leads to have them opt in to emails, use the Subscription filter to ensure you're emailing leads who are not already subscribed
3. Don't use large images or an overwhelming number of images.
Many cyber-criminals and true email spammers are notorious for using images to hide the text of their emails. Because this is a common practice of the "bad guys", most spam filters and email firewalls will immediately filter emails with large or many images to the spam folder.
It's best to use smaller images and avoid using images whenever possible.
4. Do not use unfamiliar sender names.
The best thing to do is to use your name or your company name. Email recipients prefer to see something they recognize. Sending an email from "Art Kivey" or "Client Care" is NOT recommended because it is not easily recognizable to leads as your real name or your brand/company name. Leads are more likely to mark your email as spam when they do not recognize the sender.
5. Don't use flashy fonts, colors, or "spammy" wording.
A study was completed that determined that 60% of email recipients think colored fonts are unacceptable and 70% prefer fonts to be one size. Also, 85% of recipients prefer lowercase subject lines. When it comes to wording, stay away from anything that a care salesman would ever say (ex: no obligation, free, guarantee, etc.)
Here are some helpful links around wording:
Click here for words to stay away from.
Click here for creative subject lines.
6. Avoid using attachments when possible.
It is completely understandable to send a one-off email to a lead with an attachment related to their transaction. When you're sending a mass email to hundreds or even thousands of leads, avoid using attachments. Attachments are often used to attach a virus to an email and ISP's will often filter these emails to spam to prevent their users from getting a virus.
Adding attachments also increases the size of your emails and can then take longer to deliver your messages. Any attachment can also cause for a negative experience for your users. Some users have trouble downloading or viewing an attachment and could result in the lead being deterred from your email.
8. Keep your emails as short as possible.
Sending longer emails can often be a red flag for spam filters so you'll want to avoid long emails when possible. Aside from that, but people generally like shorter emails. Keeping the email concise can lead to higher open rates and higher engagement with you. Write the email like you're speaking to someone in person because it makes it seem more relevant, personalized, and approachable. You likely wouldn't spend 20 minutes telling someone all of that info in person, so why send it all in one email?
If you must send a lengthy email, be sure to break the content into paragraphs and use small photos in between the content.
9. For leads that are opted in to email yet do not interact with your content, utilize re-engagement options.
The purpose of a re-engagement campaign is to capture the attention of leads that are opted in to your emails, but don't really engage with them. You can take a multitude of approaches to a re-engagement campaign and is done best with a segmented list.
It's very important that you do segment your lists before sending re-engagement emails because not all unengaged leads will respond to the same email.
Here are some helpful articles to coming up with a creative re-engagement campaign:
10. Ask your engaged leads to add you to their address books or email whitelist.
While it may seem silly, this is actually a great way to help ensure your emails don't go to a spam folder. When a contact is on a whitelist or in an address book of a lead, it prevents the email from going through the general spam filters or email firewalls that they normally would. So, it greatly reduces the chance that your email has of going to a spam folder.
Here's a link with instructions to add CINC's domains to a lead's whitelist/contact list for popular email clients: Click here
CINC's domains to add to whitelist: