How to land in the spam folder every time
spam folder

How to land in the spam folder every time

Follow these four steps and your emails will sink between Viagra ads and ransom notices from princes in foreign lands

Few marketers realize just how easy it is to be marked as spam. You spend hours building beautiful layouts with responsive design and personalization. You’ve used your email marketing checklist to split the hairs of every comma and conjunction in your riveting copy.

Your strong subject line is sure to dazzle all and earn clicks from most (you’d call yourself a realist). And now you’re ready to ship your magnificent creation to your potential clients.

You check your email report… (because everyone should check their email engagement stats every seven minutes like you do), only to see that most of your generous sales offers didn’t even make it to their recipients. You’re probably aghast at your terrible rates (but you did everything perfectly?)

You look in the mirror and really ask yourself: How did this happen?

Despondently sipping your tea back at your standing desk, you notice your fingers aren’t numb. You were smart enough to buy an email list for the conference last week so you wouldn’t have to manually enter 600 emails.

Little did you know, that was your first mistake.

Four sure-fire reasons you’ll get marked as Spam

Here are four sure-fire reasons servers will mark your content as spam, and clients won’t receive your incredibly generous discount.

  1. Purchase a list
  2. Write spammy content
  3. Push pushy subject lines
  4. Ignore your reputation

1. Purchase a list

I get it. I really do. I’ve run huge events and then experienced the paralyzing dread of typing hundreds of contacts at work the next day. You need names, and you need them fast. It would be great if those names were cheap too.

“Maybe I’ll buy a list,” you say. “You should buy a list,” the fishy looking email from the ‘conference personnel manager’, says. So you do.

But the truth is, no matter many times you scrub the list for bad emails, the people on that list probably have no idea who you are, and definitely didn’t all agree to being contacted by you.

When you purchase lists, no matter where you get them from, there are a few truths you should know (and here are 11 more):

  • A lot of reputable email vendors won’t even let you send emails to the list you bought.
  • You pay for the quality of the list you get. The best email lists aren’t for sale.
  • People on the list you buy don’t know you.
  • You put your email deliverability and sender reputation at risk.
  • You’ll look annoying.

What to do instead:
It’s hard work, but the best chance at avoiding the spam folder is to grow an opt-in email list. Create email opt in incentives that people want, then let them decide to sign up. That’s high value.

More inspiration? Check out 101 ways to seriously grow your email list.

2. Write spammy content

There are virtually limitless combinations of bad content swimming in spam folders around the world. Salesy messages about how your solution is “the only way” is a flare for email spiders to tag you as spam.

Taking some examples of what we have seen, you can notice the features that make them easy targets.

The Finance Company
Free money? Sounds great! Except to your inbox. Senders like these are destined for failure.

  • Capital offense: Flashback to school when you learned about proper nouns. Not only is is ‘Working Capital’ excessive and incorrect, it’s in this email twice. This will be marked spam, guaranteed.
  • Let’s talk money: I appreciate transparency around financials, but at least stick to a single number (or keep it a mystery). ISP’s also have “up to” on their blacklists.
  • Call me, maybe?: Good customer service is critical, but maybe we don’t need your phone number twice, or maybe even at all. Since this message is already flagged, the phone numbers are the nail in the coffin.

What to do instead:
Keep your messages simple, double check your capitalization, and trust that if the customer wants more information, they’ll contact you (probably by email, anyway).

Laying it All Out
Being up-front is admirable in many situations. I want to know what I’m in for when it comes to dates, haircuts and investments. So I could see how this sender might have thought they were doing me a favor by telling me exactly what I’m getting.

Often there’s not a single part of this email that makes me want to learn more. There’s no indication this message was meant for me. The copy sounds like a computer chose the most spammy words possible and made a horrible useless soup.

  • Say my name: There’s no formal introduction here. Why should I trust someone who doesn’t have a name and doesn’t seem to know mine with my money?
  • Caps attack: I wonder if capitalizing ‘ethical’ makes it any better.
  • False promises: I’m an optimist but 100% satisfaction seems a little idealistic.

What to do instead:
Introduce yourself, and take advantage of personalization tools. The best email marketing services are really great for making your messages personal and targeted. Make people feel special and make some money. It’s that simple.

(If you want to learn more about why servers mark certain emails as spam, you have to understand DMARC.)

3. Push pushy subject lines

If your email was going into battle, the subject would be the infantry on the front lines to march forward. Make sure they’re going in the right direction.

Some recent gems from my spam folder:

  • Send email. Get paid. It’s THAT simple.
  • Twenty minutes a day. $3000 a month
  • Sign up now, time is running out
  • Did you want your check or not?
  • Hurry, time is running out to sign up!

If you seem like you’re selling something, I’m probably going to ignore your email, delete it, or, if my inbox is smart enough, be completely oblivious to your email’s existence.

What to do instead:
Though urgency is a great way to get attention, it can seem aggressive. Buyers don’t want aggressive. Keep your subject lines short and sweet, and use a familiar sender name to build trust. It’s common sense. What makes you feel nice and important? Write that message to your client. When you make someone feel special or needed, they’re more likely to click and engage.

(Read 10 Awful Email Subject Lines to Learn From and then cleanse yourself with 10 of the best)

3. Ignore your reputation

This one’s an easy miss, so don’t worry if you hadn’t thought of this one. Did you know when people unsubscribe from your messages, your email newsletter service keeps track in a ‘suppressed’ email list?

First of all, unsubscribers are a good sign you’re doing something wrong (see above).

Here’s how to trash your sender reputation:

  • Several people unsubscribe.
  • Your reputation goes down. You ignore it.
  • Your messages get marked as spam by several servers.
  • Your reputation goes down. You ignore it.
  • You get ignored, unsubscribed and marked as spam. Because you’re getting ignored, unsubscribed or marked as spam.
  • Your reputation goes down. You ignore it.

What to do instead:
Most professional email service providers will let you not only see but regularly clean out email addresses that are bouncing your message or unsubscribing. A clean list is a clean sender!

Making sure you’re sending emails from a verified professional email service provider can help you manage your messages and ensure they don’t get immediately marked as spam.

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