You’ve taken the time to find a lead you need to reach out to; you’ve done your research and crafted a message just for them. Then, a few days later, you’ve still got no reply. Are they not interested? Did you say something wrong? Or did they never see the email in the first place, thanks to an over-enthusiastic spam filter?
Sending emails that end up in spam wastes time, money, and energy, as well as leaving you wondering if the person ever got your message. However, it’s super simple to avoid if you take just a few precautionary steps. We’ve put together our top ten tips on avoiding the spam folder when sending business emails.
Let’s Start with the Subject
Avoid spammy-sounding subject lines! If you want to know what this looks like, open up your spam folder and see what kind of emails are caught in it. Some subject lines just sound like spam, such as those that mention money, offer discounts, or include lots of punctuation.
That doesn’t mean that your subject lines can’t include any punctuation or mention deals (that’s important if you’re sending an offer to customers!), but you just need to be careful with what you say.
For example, a subject line such as this might get you in spam:
FLA$H SALE NOW ON!!! SAVE MONEY TODAY!!
The same basic thing can be said with:
We’re Launching Our Annual Flash Sale! Find Out More Today.
Same information but a lot less… spammy.
In addition to avoiding the spam filter, a good subject line also gets the recipient’s notice, so care should be taken in what you write.
Greetings Are Important
Avoid generic, impersonal greetings that a computer could have generated. All too often, people will open with “Dear Sir/Madam…” or, even worse, something like “valued customer,” which not only shows that you’ve done zero research but also screams out SPAM!
Try to use the person’s name, or if you really can’t find it and are just reaching out to a company, make it to the attention of a specific member of staff. For example, “for the attention of the Human Resources Manager.”
Don't send Weird or Unnecessary Attachments
Having any kind of attachment on your email makes it slightly more likely to be marked as spam since they are one of the more common vectors for malware. In addition, some corporate email services simply don’t allow specific external attachments, and sending an email with one will get you sent straight to spam.
First, you shouldn’t be sending attachments on outreach emails, but if you need to send something, it might be better to send a link to a cloud-hosted file rather than the extension itself. This is especially useful with larger files, which many email providers will disallow anyway.
Avoid Poor Spelling and Grammar
Having sloppily-written emails is a red flag for spam filters since mistakes are a hallmark of scams. This is especially true of phishing scam emails, which are well-known for their poor spelling and grammar.
In actual spam, far from being mistakes, these grammatical and spelling errors are included by design for several reasons. First, email scammers are looking to make money, and if they had responses from the tens of thousands of emails they sent out, it would eat up way too much of their time.
Thus, they include enough mistakes in an email to weed out anyone unlikely to fall for the end scam and waste their time. Since this has been going on for a while, most providers flagged these error-laden emails as spam. So, if your email is filled with mistakes, you’re going straight to the spam folder too.
To avoid this, take your time when writing your emails. This is a piece of business communication, and it pays to give it a little attention. This will help you to avoid poor spelling and grammar in the first place, but you should always proofread after as well.
Avoid Using a Lot of Hyperlinks
Despite how it may sometimes feel, spam emails aren’t crafted simply to annoy you. Instead, they almost always want you to do something, such as visit a (potentially malicious) website, buy some trash product, or thread you along for some other evil purpose.
Most of these tasks require hyperlinks to send you off elsewhere. As such, you need to avoid suspicious links in your messages if you don’t want them filtered to spam. The first thing to consider is the number of links you include – a good email only has a single purpose, so you shouldn’t need more than one link. If you need to point someone’s attention to more than one place, try to limit it to three links.
Secondly, don’t just paste in long, unedited hyperlinks with stings of referral numbers and letters – this will get you flagged for spam. Similarly, and more importantly, avoid hyperlinks that obfuscate the actual destination of the link. This is a common tactic of email scammers who want people to think they are going to a legitimate website but are sent to the scammers’ site.
Don’t Ask for Suspicious Actions or Information
Please enter your bank details in the attached form.
Does that sound like something people should be doing? No. This is why spam filters will quickly screen out messages with these sorts of requests. The same is true of most personal information, but especially financial info.
Certain types of information/content are associated with email spam, so try to avoid it where possible or at the very least handle it with care. These are:
- Emails that create a sense of urgency, such as “you must respond within 24 hours.”
- Current events – scam emails will often be based around some big news story, so avoid referencing these.
- Emotional language – similar to urgency, scam emails might include emotional language (positive or negative) to elicit a response. This should be avoided in business emails anyway, but doubly so to avoid spam filters.
Authenticate Your Email
This tip is less about how you write your emails and more about how your email system works on the back end. For example, there are a few ways to authenticate your email address, and email clients trust authenticated email more than unauthenticated email. Therefore, you’re much less likely to be sent to spam! The ones you can use are:
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF) authentication works by comparing the sender’s IP address with a list of IP addresses allowed to send email from a domain. This is done via your domain name system (DNS) records.
- Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) also confirms that a message is legit to the recipient’s email client. Still, this one focuses on ensuring the message is not messed with in transit and avoids Domain Spoofing.
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) requires SPF and DKIM to function and be published in your DNS records. DMARC allows you, as the email domain owner, to instruct email clients on what to do if they receive a message with a spoofed domain.
Yes, this can get very confusing very quickly, but take it step by step, talk to the person who runs your emails and domain records, and you can get your email authenticated in no time at all.
Think About Your Email Provider
Unless you’re hosting your own email servers, you’re going to be going through an email provider. Unfortunately, since all mail from a provider goes through shared servers, if someone else is using that service for sending spam, and being reported for it, then email clients will be cautious of all emails sent from those servers, including yours.
This is why email marketing providers, such as Mail Chimp, are so strict on spam counts. Because spam from one account means reduced deliverability for all accounts, as such, to avoid your messages ending up in spam, you need to make sure you’re choosing a reputable provider.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Have you ever sent a follow-up email and got a response that goes something like this:
Sorry, I didn’t get your first email, I just checked, and it seems to have gone to my spam folder! I would love to arrange a meeting…”
The chances are you have, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. So the real question is, what do you do after? Do you fret and curse the spam filters of the world, or do you take the time to go back, read your initial email, and figure out what went wrong?
If you try to learn from these moments, you’re likely to start coming across patterns in your emails that end up in spam, such as lousy subject lines, sloppy writing, or strange requests. However, once you spot them, you can avoid them (and the spam folder) in the future.
If you’ve used all these tips and still find yourself ending up in the spam folder, don’t underestimate the power of simply asking people to add you to their contact lists or unblock you. Many of the major email providers will assume that if a recipient adds you as a contact or makes an effort to take your email out of spam, then you probably aren’t spam in the future.
Ask the recipient to allowlist your address or, if your message has ended up in their spam folder, mark it as “not spam” or unblock the address.
Having your email go to spam can be at best frustrating and, at worst, a severe hindrance to your business. So, to make sure that you’re not wasting time, energy, money, and opportunities on straight-to-spam emails, follow these 10 tips. What’s more, every time you send an email, ask yourself:
Is my subject line clear and to the point?
Have I addressed the recipient by name (or at least title)?
Are there unnecessary attachments or links?
Am I asking for any information that could be seen as suspicious?
Is my email free from mistakes?
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