Spam filters are more strict than ever.
Can you blame them? You can barely read a blog post these days without being automatically added to some list and suddenly YOU’VE GOT ACCESS to something you didn’t want and they won’t. stop. emailing. about it.
Yet, for all its maladies, email is still one of the most successful methods for reaching your audience. Even though a 22% open rate is decent, it’s still better than any organic social media campaign you may be running.
Most business owners I meet don’t know about a little thing we call “deliverability.” Deliverability consists of many reasons an email provider like Gmail or Yahoo would decide to put the email you sent in a recipient’s inbox or mark your mass email as spam.
Here are 10 of the biggest reasons your email could end up in file 13 in no particular order.
You don’t have permission to email them
You can actually be fined up to $16k for putting someone on a mailing list without their consent if you fail to allow them to unsubscribe. Most will then report you as spam. If they report you for emailing them without permission, there’s only a certain amount of times that can happen before Gmail flags all of your emails as spam. It is an integrity move to get permission first and in Europe, it’s the law thanks to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Too many images
If your email has a lot of images, it increases the size of the email. When Gmail sees a huge email, it classifies it as suspicious and sends it to junk mail. The default mode for Gmail users is that images are turned off anyway. So whatever you’re sending, probably isn’t even loading unless the user has opted to turn images on. Regardless, the limit for most emails is 24Mb, which isn’t much, so if you get close to that, Gmail is going to flag it.
Your reply address, from address, and from name don’t match
When the from address and the reply address you are using don’t match, it is a red flag for most email providers because that’s a common practice of spamming called “Phishing.” Phishers mask their actual reply email behind a fake one so you’ll reply and get sucked into their nightmarish funnel. If you go phishing like this, the only thing that will be caught is you.
The URL you’re sending from isn’t verified
Verification is a process that tells email servers that your URL is a “white label” URL and safe to receive email from. You have to go into your domain’s DNS settings and create records (Sender Policy Framework and Domain Keys Identified Mail, also known as SPF and DKIM) for your email CRM. Then, when they populate after about 24 hours, you click verify so your email CRM can confirm your URL. If everything worked correctly, the email provider can classify your domain as verified and inboxes will let your email through.
Sound complicated? Well, depending on who you’re talking to, it is. Some mail providers like Active Campaign, ConvertKit, & Mailchimp do this easily. Search Google for “your provider + email domain verification” and you’ll find step by step guides to updating your DNS records and verifying your email sender.
Or just get someone like us to do it for you.
Someone else used your server to email spam
So, say you get a Mailchimp account and Mailchimp uses the same server to send and receive email for both you and a person who uses spammy methods often. Because of the spammer’s behavior, your whole server could get flagged as a spam server and thus, affect your deliverability. If you start to see a lot of bounces, are receiving a lot of spam reports, or your open rate suddenly drops dramatically check with your provider to see what’s up. Like our parents used to say, you could appear guilty by association to your email CRM.
Low open rates
So, this is going to sound like futuristic Terminator stuff, but your clients’ inboxes are learning. Gmail is watching to see if your emails are being opened a lot or if they are being deleted without opening or ignored. If you have low open rates, at some point, Gmail just puts your email/IP address out of its misery, banishing it to the dry places of the spam folder. It’s thinking about its customers’ experience first and if you appear to be spammy or your recipients are uninterested, the robots will assume that you are committing underhanded email practices and protect their customers from you.
Your subject line is deceptive
I’m all for a catchy subject line. It’s the key to getting people to really open your email! But if you are being deceptive, that could get you flagged by both the end-user and Gmail. Subject lines like “Hey, I have important information about your dad” or “Your credit is in jeopardy. **Final notice**” are gross, especially if they have nothing to do with the actual content of the email. Anything misleading or that sounds “Cold-Call Salesy” will be filtered to the junk mail abyss.
The Email “Bounced”
If Gmail/Yahoo have received a large number of bounces from your address, that’s cause to flag you as spam too. A soft bounce is when you send an email to someone with an out of office reply on or the mailbox is full. A hard bounce is when you send email to an inbox that doesn’t exist. If you get a lot of hard bounces, that’s the practice of a spammer. A lot of hard bounces makes the robots think that you are a robot trying a brute force attack, where you just try every possible combination of email to see if one of them works.
You didn’t include your physical address
This may seem like the oddest violation, but it’s actually against CAN-SPAM laws to email someone and not include a physical address in the footer. If you deleted the default footer in Mailchimp, you’d better go put it back because you’re breaking the law, which could result in fines up to $16k per email. Part of the verification process for email is that you are a real person at a real location sending email and not a robot, so include a physical address. If you work from home and don’t want to put your home address, you can purchase a PO Box from the post office or UPS. I recommend UPS, as they allow you to use the store location’s address with your box number attached, rather than a PO Box number alone.
You didn’t include an unsubscribe link
The greatest offense of them all. It is a privilege to be able to communicate with people via email. We should treat it as such. Having no unsubscribe link is like a dinner guest that comes over, lets himself in, and refuses to go home. It is against the law to email someone without the unsubcribe or at least the ability to update email preferences and it will get you fined fast. So, make sure you’ve always got a way to opt-out of your list.
We’ve already seen GDPR instituted in Europe and we would be foolish to think that it will not become law here in the near future as well. Start practicing high-standards of marketing now and trust me, your customers will thank you for it.
We love putting together email sequences and setting up lead-generation systems for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Why don’t you give us a call and let us help you put together an email automation that helps you connect with your customers in a human way? We’d love to talk!