Your Spam Folder Can Provide the Answers to Your Marketing Email Woes

Your Spam Folder Can Provide the Answers to Your Marketing Email Woes

May 1, 2020 Off By Koehler Home Decor

Email marketing is still considered to be one of the most effective ways that retail businesses can connect with current, former and potential customers. This is only true however if the marketing messages they send actually make it to the recipients email inboxes in the first place.

Even if the email contact has previously legitimately signed up for your messaging, which any good retail business will make sure they have before sending any missives, increasing zealous spam filters may consign your latest newsletter/sale offer/informational piece to the recipients spam folder, where it will never be seen.

Here we are going to take a look at why that is and what you can do to prevent it from happening to the emails you send.

A Scary Trip Into the Average Spam Folder

Occasionally, in search of a little light relief, we rummage around in our spam folders, on the lookout for the latest version of the Nigerian prince scam. It can be a nice little stress buster, as some of them are hilarious – although none may ever be as good again as the one once dissected by Gizmodo involving rescuing a Nigerian astronaut stranded on a secret – but abandoned – Russian space station.

However, if you head to your own spam folder, you are also likely to find perfectly legitimate messages languishing there too. And for a retail marketer hoping to make use of email to increase sales and engagement, that is disturbing.

The Growing Reach of Spam Filters

Much of the time, it’s not that hard to understand why a message has ended up in spam. They made use of known email subject line trigger ones, did not pass the authentication tests, were sending thin, sparse content that the spam filter decided was irrelevant, that kind of thing.

But then there are others. Just today, a WordPress password reset and a Google Alert were both to be found in our spam folder. Legitimate, useful email we needed, lost in spam. And if they couldn’t make it past the spam filter, then that really is scary.

The fact is that overzealous spam filters result from those Nigerian prince emails. Over the last few years, ISPs and webmail providers have seriously ramped up their efforts to weed out spam and the unfortunate side effect has been an increasing number of valid emails never making it to the in-box of their intended recipient.

We all also know what happens when your emails are flagged as spam. Every time it happens your sender reputation takes a hit, which means so does your deliverability and so your sender reputation is damaged even further. It’s a vicious circle that can repeat ad nauseam.

Avoiding the Spam Folder Cycle

If best email practices as we understand them cannot ensure that your emails are given safe passage to inboxes then what can? The answer may lie in those spam folder emails themselves. By taking a closer look at them there are some valuable lessons to be learned.

No Silver Bullet Here

There is no such thing as a silver bullet that can slay all of a retail email marketer’s fears. We have all long been told that segmentation and personalization often improve retail email marketing results, but the problem arises when they are treated as if they are the answer to all deliverability issues.

Segmentation and personalization work. But only when used in the right way. Personalization tactics can sometimes make emails feel less and less personal, as email marketing guru Neil Patel once pointed out. In that piece he made the case for depersonalizing your campaigns to achieve true personalization, making the following suggestions (and more.)

  • Drop the overused “Hi {first name}” kind of personalization
  • Make sure your emails give more than they take, and are not just ‘sell, sell, sell’. Offer some useful information mixed in with your sales pitches.
  • Write copy that reads like real people reaching out to another person. Develop a friendly brand voice that’s authentic, and work on creating copy that’s original and engaging.

Dead Email Contacts Are More Dangerous Than You Think

Being aware of which email contacts to avoid is every bit as important as which contacts you should reach out to. Unmonitored, inactive email addresses can have a serious negative impact on your deliverability rates, especially if you keep sending messages to them.

How? As a part of their sender reputation determination algorithms ISPs and email providers factor in mailbox usage rates, the ratio of active to inactive contacts on your mailing lists. The lower your mailbox usage, the worse your sender reputation. In fact, according to Return Path, low mailbox usage scores account for up to 19% of email deliverability issues.

The answer here is fairly simple; the regular practice of list hygiene. That means checking your lists regularly and purging the email addresses that can harm you, including all the following:

  • Invalid email addresses
  • Spam traps
  • Departmental or role-based email addresses
  • Unresponsive subscribers

Your Reputation is Your Best Defense Against the Spam Filters

In the eyes of every mailbox provider and ISP your sender reputation – not your company reputation – is one of the most crucial things that determine whether your emails make it to the in-box or get sent straight to the spam folder. That’s why improving email deliverability is almost synonymous with maintaining a high enough sender score. But how do you take care of your sender reputation?

We’ve already seen that most spam filters consider mailbox usage as a key signal in gauging sender reputation. Other factors include the volume of email send-outs, level of engagements your emails generate, and quality/relevance of your email content.

  • Always work with a reputable email service provider
  • Ensure that your IP has never been used – or will be used – for spam, by you or someone else)
  • Make sure that recipients can easily and reliably identify you as the sender

Earn Reputation Credibility From Your Recipients

In the end, your best allies in the fight against spam filters may be your email recipients. They have the power to tip the balance in your favor by actively opening, clicking, and engaging your emails. They can also destroy your campaign by ignoring or ) hitting the spam complaint button. That’s why it’s essential for reaching excellent deliverability results that you not only offer relevant emails but provide a compelling email experience as well.

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