Ten mistakes you didn’t know you were making with your email newsletter

If you put out a newsletter or are the postmaster for any type of opt-in emailing list, you know your primary goal is to get recipients to open your email. Of course if your mailing ends up in someone’s junk/spam folder most people will delete it without even looking at the subject line. First let me just say, this is NOT a how-to manual on sending spam, it is only a reference for legitimate newsletters and marketers to avoid having their opt-in emails blocked by spam filters. There are many mistakes internet marketers don’t even know they are making that can get their emails blocked by a spam filter.

All filtering programs are slightly different, however they all use a lot of the same basic principles, where points are assigned to each characteristic that denotes spam and once the point total becomes too high, the message is moved to the junk folder. Here are ten infractions that have significant points attributed to them, which people commit on a regular basis.

1. Using all capital letters

Especially in the subject line. THIS IS SCREAMING in forum posts, chat rooms and in emails and spam points are added by most programs.

2. Using special characters

Especially in the subject line. Email subjects that look like !!!!this!!!!?? are viewed as either spam or malicious code and are usually sent to the junk folder.

3. Using an email server that is known for spam

If you are seeing a low percentage of emails being opened by recipients it’s possible your mail server has been flagged for spam. It’s difficult to measure what a good open rate is, because there are so many variables, however 20-40% is within the average. There are many publicly viewable blacklists where you can check your server and ip address.

4. Just one big image as the body

No text or a large number of images in comparison to the amount of text. Spam filters view this as an attempt to circumvent their checks and controls and will add a significant number of points to the message.

5. Javascript, PHP or other code

Specifically code that is designed to hide URLs or to send information is seen as malicious code and the email doesn’t get through the filter.

6. Obfuscated text/html

This is commonly blocked by most spam filters and many people still don’t understand what it is. Basically it is any attempt to hide text, html or to make code look like it is not code. Or make malicious code so confusing and complex it looks innocuous.

7. Spammy Words

This is probably the most commonly blocked offense. Using words like “Free Money”,”Guaranteed Cash” and just about anything related to pharmaceuticals just to name a few. A list of 250 of the most highly penalized words are available here – Spam Words And Phrases.

8. Saying you comply with spam laws

Any mention either in the subject line or in the body that the email is not spam or that this email complies with all spam laws will trigger penalties in many filtering programs.

9. The Unsubscribe message

You always need an easy way for users to unsubscribe from the list or they will report your message as spam just to get rid of the email. However, the “Unsubscribe” area must be worded in a very specific way or you may be penalized. A lot of people don’t know that even saying “Unsubscribe” can cost your message points and you should use terms like “remove me” or “stop receiving” instead.

10. Sender’s account

RFC (Request For Comment) is an internet protocol governing peer to peer computer communications. RFC standards prefer that emails originate from a postmaster account (i.e. (postmaster@yourdomain.com). You should also have an account to report abuse (abuse@yourdomain.com). Spam filters will look for these accounts as well.

Obviously, this is not a complete list of what can get your email blocked, but avoiding these common mistakes will help increase your opening percentage. Also, remember that many spam filtering programs are intuitive and when an email recipient manually flags a message as spam the program can add points against you, your domain, your ip address, and other factors pertaining to the message you’re trying to send. For the most part, if you accurately describe the contents of your email in the subject line and don’t use deceptive methods within the body, your messages should stay out of spam folders. There are several software programs that will help determine if your newsletter or mailing is ending up in your customers junk folder. Some of the most popular are –

SpamCheck Report – According to them this is one of the best spam checking tools out there. They have a risk-free 90 day trial version available along with 80+ other webmaster modules and tools.

E-Filtrate – “The only effective solution endorsed by famous web marketers.” This is the solution many professionals use.

Spam Links – This is an anti-spam portal with a ton of resources about preventing spam and internet security.

I haven’t used any of these solutions, so if you have tried them please give the readers a small review below in the comments section. Also, let us know if you have any tips or situations where your legitimate newsletter was blocked by a spam filter.