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How To Avoid Your Opt-in Email Newsletters Being Blocked

Leading the Way Magazine, Volume 2 Issue 3, April 2006
Article by Melissa Norfolk

Does your newsletter contain an assurance that it's not spam? This may actually be causing your messages to be blocked. Many legitimate newsletters are blocked by anti-spam filtering programs. Every time you send an email newsletter or marketing campaign, on average, one out of every six people who asked to be on your list won't get your mailing because a spam filter blocks it by mistake.

Spam filters examine an email message's headers and content for phrases and coding commonly used by bulk emailers and assigns points for each offending feature, giving an overall score that then detects the message as spam. When a spam filter tags a message as likely spam, it adds a report to the email and routes it to a user's "junk-mail" folder.

Here are some helpful hints about avoiding email filters so that the mail you send actually arrives in the inbox of the intended recipient without being stopped along the way.

Watch Your Use Capital Letters and Large Fonts
Capital letters are seen as "yelling" and spammy. Excess capital letters are examined by spam filters so try to limit capitalisation to partial lines only.

Using large fonts is also seen as suspicious by spam filters.

Avoid Suspect Spam Phrases

Be aware of the phrases and words that are commonly used in SPAM messages. Try to avoid phrases like "free offer", "money back guarantee" and "unsubscribe" within the body of the email.

Other common trigger words and phrases include:

  • certain words like "guarantee" in all caps
  • words like "unsubscribe," "leave," and other list removal phrases
  • claims of compliance with anti-spam legislation
  • the phrases: call now, what are you waiting for, while supplies last, while you sleep
  • asks you to click below or click here

Be Careful with Subject Lines
Spam filters are particularly interested in subject lines. Do you use the word FREE in your subject lines? Well, although the word FREE attracts the attention of many readers, it also attracts the attention of most spam filters!

Here are other pitfalls that you will want to watch out for when constructing your Subject lines:

  • Exclamation/question marks. One may be ok, but not more than one.
  • Subject line ends in a string of numeric digits. Eg Issue 21
  • All capital letters. Stands out, especially to spam filters
  • Subject line is missing. Big red flag!
  • Subject contains G.a.p.p.y T.e.x.t or lots of whitespace between words
  • Contains obvious spam words like: porn, viagra, teen

Carefully Word Your Unsubscribe Message

It seems ironic that legitimate opt-in e-mailers are penalised for having unsubscription information. But since so many spammers use this technique, it is apparently a spam indicator.

You need to include ways to unsubscribe, of course, but avoid the phrase "click here to..." and substitute something like "use this link to ...." . You're especially hurt by using mailto e-mail links with "remove" -- or anything, for that matter -- in the subject.

Flaunt Being a Newsletter
Fortunately, being a legitimate newsletter lowers your spam score. That is, if the subject of your email newsletter contains the word "newsletter", the mailing list name, the frequency, the month or the date.

Use a Signature

You're helped if your e-mail contains an e-mail signature -- since so many spam messages don't.

Message Size of 20 to 40K Helps

Since so many spam messages are under 20K, many spam filters give you credit for a message size between 20K and 40K. Over 40K helps you less.

Ask Subscribers to Put Your Address in their "Whitelist" or Address Book
Some email applications such as Outlook, Eudora and Hotmail have recently changed their interface to allow users to sort their mail into preferred folders. As people subscribe, ask them specifically to place you in their address book, "safe list" or "whitelist". That way your e-mail will come directly into their inbox. Asking may be a little trouble, but it may make the difference between your recipients seeing or not seeing your e-mail.

Internet expert, Melissa Norfolk, speaks to business, school and community groups about effective use of the internet, finding what you need online, internet safety and online marketing.

For more information phone (03) 9816 3488.

Copyright © 2008 Melissa Norfolk Technology Presentations