Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to stay out of the 'junk' folder

Bring up the subject of email in any conversation and the topic
almost always turns to spam - how much we're getting, what to do
about it, which spam filtering software is worth using, and so on.

But talk to a potential email marketer and one of the first
questions is 'how can we stop our email from being filtered
out as spam?'

The war against spam is being fought on many different levels,
from ISPs and email service providers, to network administrators
and, of course, individuals themselves. What they all have in
common is that they are trying to filter out irrelevant, unsolicited
email from disreputable sources.

So your first priority should be to ensure the domain you are
sending from hasn't been blacklisted for any reason, and that
the content of your email is relevant to the audience you're
targeting. It always irritates me to read things like 'email is
just a numbers game - the more people you send to, the more
responses you'll get', and then use that to justify a mass mailing
with the promise of a 0.1% return (or less). Only spammers think
that way - short term gains, inbox misery all round and screw the

Notice that I haven't mentioned permission. Permission is important
in both marketing and legal terms, but we're not talking about that
here. Spam filtering has little to do with marketing concepts or
even what is or isn't legal, it is simply rules-based.

In a previous eTip I talked about how you can reduce the chance of your emails being blocked. But there is something else you can do, and according to Marketing Sherpa's 2007 Benchmark Guide only 22% of email marketers actually do this: ask recipients to whitelist your 'from' address.

Better still, tell them what that means or how to do it - many people won't know, and providing instructions greatly increases uptake. Detailed information about this is freely available on the web - for example, here at

Or you could simply say 'Please add
to your address book or contacts list, or ensure you add to your 'safe senders list', in order to receive
our emails.'

Asking people to whitelist you is a simple thing to do. It can
increase the chances of your emails getting through to those who
want to read them, reducing the 'false positives' generated by
clunky spam filtering.

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