If you checked your junk folder for your email right now, it’s likely you’d have a few emails from brands sitting in there that never made their way to your inbox. That’s because it was marked as SPAM. Most all emails are considered one of two things: SPAM or solicited opt-in emails. You never want your marketing emails to end up in that junk folder, incorrectly marked as SPAM.
In this article, we’ll explore how to make sure your marketing emails successfully reach your target audience, as well as who can be penalized for SPAM email. Email marketing is a crucial part of business, and you want to do it correctly so your business lands atop your prospective customer’s inbox and not buried deep in their junk folder.
Email Control in the US vs. Europe
Did you know that the email delivery system is totally different in different countries? In the USA the infrastructure is self-regulated. Europe, on the other hand, has a rules-based system with governmental oversight and penalties. The differences in the two methods are fascinating.
Under the US system, email delivery is the responsibility of the sender’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP’s reputation is at stake when they send any SPAM email. If a recipient ISPs considers another ISP as a SPAMer they will start to block that rogue email server. What’s worse is that an ISP can inform others about ISPs they find suspect.
Why would do they do that? Why is it in the interests of an ISP to block a SPAMing ISP’s sending email server?
No One Wants To Receive SPAM
One of the most important things for ISPs is the server processing time. If their servers are processing tons of junk email, that means they cannot be servicing their existing valid customers’ requirements. In other words, bogus emails bog down an ISP’s bandwidth, which affects how quickly they can present websites they host.
From an ISP’s perspective, they don’t make any kind of money by delivering your email. Most website hosting plans include email delivery and storage as a throw-in feature. ISPs do, however, make money off of hosting websites. It’s in their best financial interest to ward off as many bogus emails as possible and keep their processing times quick for the services that bring in their cash flow.
In short, it’s really anything that the recipient considers as SPAM. For example, even though someone opt-ed in to receive an email doesn’t mean they remember doing so and want the email in their inbox.
Just because someone does not believe they are sending SPAM or junk email does not make it fact.
They have the liberty to mark an email as junk or SPAM anytime they wish. Even if the sender doesn’t consider their email SPAM, if the recipient considers it SPAM, it can be marked as such.
There’s also a subset of “SPAM” that is nefarious. Those emails can contain code that can infect your computer with a virus, record keystrokes, or worse. There is also a technique used by hackers called “phishing” that steals passwords and personal information from unsuspecting email users. This is yet another reason why opt-in email is so important.
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Legitimate Email Blocked
There are a range of reasons for an email to be considered SPAM. Most of the time this happens because of a rules-based systems analysis of incoming emails. Most corporate emails have these kinds of filters applied.
The email application you use (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) may have its own filters, and the email user can create even more. Your ISP may even be filtering the email before it gets to that step. Regardless of what email application you use, you have likely noticed how even seemingly valid emails can have a hard time finding their way to the inbox.
One type of filter that is widely used by both ISPs and corporate filters is content examination. These filters scan for keywords they consider to signal SPAM. Words like “get free”, “buy now”, etc. can lead to emails being labeled as SPAM and blocked. The goal is to keep illegitimate email out, but it can also prevent legitimate email from getting into the inbox.
Intensive SPAMers have developed an array of methods to bypass filters over the years. Filters have tried to outsmart them by doing things like picking up on an unusual burst of emails sent from a single source, or flagging the same email content coming from a rotation of different IP addresses. In short, these filters consider a lot of different factors and you want to make sure your email marketing doesn’t get caught up in them.
How To Ensure Deliverability of Your Email
By now, you’re probably feeling like it seems pretty tough to get your marketing email into your customers’ inboxes. Sure, there are hurdles to overcome, but you can fly by the filters and into inboxes by taking a patient and strategic approach.
A Problem or Opportunity?
Your goal is to be considered a “solicited opt-in email” rather than SPAM. This means you’ll have to build an opt-in list of prospective customers who want to receive your emails. In order to develop this list, we look at more than just the list itself: we design a holistic content marketing strategy. This means working on your business’ entire web presence and not just the emails you’re sending.
Why? Isn’t the goal to just get in as many inboxes as possible? Actually, a better strategy is to get into as many inboxes as possible of customers who actually want to engage with your business. Your emails don’t do much good unopened in a junk folder. The first step to avoiding that is curating your web content so that it engages people who are legitimately interested in learning more about your business and entices them to opt-in to your emails.
While SPAM filters can affect your ability to get into mass amounts of inboxes, that isn’t a very effective strategy anyway. What you want is to add real value to real prospects. Don’t think of these filters as a problem – think of them as an opportunity to better align yourself with your ideal customer. You’re not just selling, you’re matching. You’re no longer focused on self-promotion, you’re focused on your prospects.
The goal is to provide the type of content that your website visitors want, no matter what stage of the “buyer’s journey” they are in. The content can be anything of value – a video, webinar, infographic, report, etc. The idea is to serve them in their buying process. In doing so, you build a relationship with the prospect AND change their perception of you from a sales robot to a shopping partner, which makes them more likely to want to do business with you.
This may seem like a long way to go to get an email into an inbox. But trust us when we say it’s worth it in the long run.
Most companies focus on short term benefits. With marketing though, the best approach is a big picture approach. It will take some patience, but you will reap the rewards. There are micro and quicker efforts in marketing that can still be effective, such as advertising, but developing a reliable communication and content marketing strategy is a long game that will grow your business unlike any other approach.
From SPAM to Valued Content
The short version? If you want to get to the inbox, build valuable content that people want to receive.
Here are a few more of the strategies we use to create an effective communication and marketing plan for your business:
- Create content that motivates prospects to submit their email and information
- Target your content to buyers in different stages of their buying experience, from researching to being ready to purchase
- Manage email lists for targeted and ongoing messaging
- Nurture leads with content designed to move prospects farther along in the buyer’s journey
- Create high-value blog content that can serve as the backbone for newsletter and social content
- Measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor the success of email marketing efforts
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Want more information?
Contact us at 800-709-3240 and we can help you navigate modern email marketing.