Email is a permission-based channel, and that’s its main difference from spam. To start receiving promos, newsletters and other messages from a company, a user first needs to fill in the subscription form. Moreover, since 2018, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and some other anti-spam policies require all commercial sender to implement Double Opt-In.
Double Opt-In is a two-stage subscription process. Having filled in the subscription form, a user receives a confirmation email asking to confirm subscription. And only having confirmed their decision to hear from you, the user officially turns into a subscriber.
This approach saves you from spam traps and fake accounts, ensuring that only real people with valid email addresses get into your contact list. Moreover, it shows that you respect your customers’ privacy and interests and mean no unsolicited sending.
Permission from the receiver isn’t the only thing that differs email campaigns from spam. Take a look at the below table to see what other characteristics help differentiate between spam and email campaigns.
|Anonymous/fake/no-reply sender;||Legitimate email address with the domain name of the website;|
|A lot of messages sent within a short period;||Consistent sending schedule;|
|Mass emails sent to many recipients at once;||Your email address is the only recipient;|
|No sender contact information;||Full contact information and social links;|
|No option to opt out;||Vivid unsubscribe link in the email footer;|
|HTML-only email without plain text in the body;||Email body contains both HTML and plain text;|
|Asking for instant payment/in advance: asking to provide personal financial information;||Never asking for financial details (card number, CCV, password);|
|Illegal content;||Official content with no explicit material;|
|Useless and irrelevant information;||Personalized content based on the recipient’s interests;|
|Bad grammar and spelling;||Edited and proofread text;|
|Email with just a link (phishing);||Full-bodied email.|
The list isn’t full but gives the idea of what spam messages are. These are unsolicited emails you’ve never agreed to receive, sent from the invalid or fake address, without any sender info, with irrelevant content and useless information.
How to Avoid the Reputation of a Spammer
However, even reputable businesses with useful and trustworthy content sometimes have emails ended up in spam folders. That may happen for several reasons, but fortunately there’s much you can do to avoid such an outcome.
- Don’t use a bought contact list.
That’s probably the first advice to any brand getting started with automated email marketing. When you’re just at the start line of your marketing journey, the craving for fast results may be too big, and the decision to buy a list looks like a great way to let as many people know about your business.
But that’s a deceptive illusion. You don’t know how and when this base was collected and whether the email addresses are valid. But more importantly, the owners of the valid addresses have never agreed to receive from you and with very high probability would unsubscribe after the first email or even report your messages as spam. Whatever option, your sender reputation will be damaged, and email clients would treat you like an untrustworthy sender.
- Provide an unsubscribe link.
An available option to stop receiving your emails is one of the main concepts of fair email marketing. Many brands (especially newcomers) are afraid of including an unsubscribe link in each email so as not to lose subscribers, but such fears are groundless. People unsubscribe not because they see the link, but because they lose interest in your service or product.
And that’s also a natural process. Our preferences and focus change over time, and we start looking for new solutions to meet current needs. All brands lose subscribers, and your job is to learn to let people go with dignity. Even having stopped being your subscribers, they don’t stop being your customers and brand advocates.
- Avoid spam trigger words in subject lines.
Composing the subject line for emails has been causing headache to many marketers. Being catchy and engaging, it should at the same time be not too long, clear and informative. And, equally important, it shouldn’t trigger spam filters.
Next time you up to writing a good subject line for your email campaign make sure it doesn’t contain such words as make $, earn now, potential earnings, for just $XXX, no age restrictions, click below, etc. Many email marketing platforms often release (and update) spam words lists and reports, so you’d better check some to be on the safe side.
And also mind that tons of exclamation marks, vivid red fonts and all capital letters can also get your emails in troubles.
- Stick to a sending plan.
Consistent scheduling is an important element of the email marketing strategy. A sudden rise in the number of campaigns or their frequency may alarm email clients and bruise your sender reputation.
To increase your email campaigns, act step by step. If you’ve been sending one newsletter per month, switching to five emails per week would look suspicious.
And, of course, compose your emails making an effect of communication with customer for everyone to understand that he is contacted personally. Don’t forget to specify from whom the email arrived and your contact details. You can also use email signature generator to add your photo and company logo.
- Test your emails.
You’ve probably heard of A/B testing for emails. Such tests aim to detect effectiveness of certain email elements – subject line, CTA, promo codes, etc. However, there are also tests (for example, Litmus, Mail Tester, Postmark) that help find out the spam score of your messages.
A spam test tool checks whether spam filters will detect your emails as suspicious and deliver them to the spam folder instead of inbox. Your spam score is calculated based on multiple factors (SPF record, trigger words, code, text to image ratio, etc.), and the result suggests which of them may cause troubles with deliverability.
To sum up, there is a huge difference between spam and email marketing. Spammers use emails to push unsolicited content that’s of no use to the recipient at best and may even harm them at worst. Email marketing, in its turn, is used by many companies to build up the conversation with its customers and deliver personalized and targeted messages that aim to solve their needs.
Iuliia Nesterenko is a technical writer at eSputnik. Her focus is on exploring current digital marketing trends and describing new strategies for email marketers.