Avoiding spam filters when sending out email newsletters

We know first hand just how much time and effort goes into creating great email newsletters. We do it for clients and ourselves. When you put in all the effort of writing, designing and coding an email blast, the last thing you want is for your message to be delivered straight to your readers spam box. There are a few basic steps you can take to help you get to the inbox instead.

First and foremost, use a reputable email newsletter service. If you go with a company thats shady and has shady practices, theres a good chance youll end up in that spam box. Spam filters can tell where the email is coming from. Go with a source that has a good reputation.

Were big fans of MailChimp, and we know lots of nonprofits and businesses that use ConstantContact, Salsa, Salesforce, Vertical Response or Convio to send their newsletters. There are a number of great email services out there, and the good ones have strict policies on the use of purchased lists (dont do this) and spamming (or this), and they pay attention. Let me repeat that: They pay attention. You will not be able to get away with using a purchased list. Ever. Dont do it. And Spambots know which services are reputable and which arent.

And on the subject of MailChimp, they wrote a fantastic support document on the nitty-gritty things that Spambots are looking for.

Here are a few more things to think about once youve realized you should never, ever use a purchased list.

1. Content

One key to inbox delivery is to make sure that your content is relevant to your mission and that it doesnt sound like youre trying to sell something. Avoid things like: Click here! Free! Money back guarantee!… you know how spam sounds, dont sound like that.

2. Organic List Growth

Grow your list organically. By gaining followers the right way, you will have much higher engagement rates, meaning more people opening your emails and more people clicking on your emails. Why? Because they want to hear from you. This way, you will be a trusted source for the people who want to hear what you had to say.

3. Unsubscribe Link

Make sure there is an unsubscribe link in all of your emails and dont hide it. Its better for your email reputation that people who no longer want to receive your emails click unsubscribe than click the Spam button on their email provider. To your newsletter provider, a Spam button click implies you may have done something malicious, but an Unsubscribe just means the user wasnt interested anymore. Dont hide that link. Most of the email newsletter services stick that in for you.

4. Good Design and Code

Another important factor for getting into the inbox is that your email is well-designed and well-coded. Spambots can tell if an email is poorly coded and that usually goes hand in hand with poorly designed and that can determine whether you make it to the inbox or not. The best thing to do is have a few solid templates that you can reuse, and just change out the content and maybe update the header. For example, if you often send out campaign emails, you can create a template for your Campaign style emails, and then reuse it every time you start a new campaign. This saves you time and effort, and means the users spambots will know its?? you again. Avoid outputting code from editors like Microsoft Word, they add a lot of junk code that could get you marked as spam.

One more thing: If you are collecting emails and signing people up for stuff on your website, you must have a privacy policy on your website. You should tell people exactly how you use their email address, it makes them feel all warm and cozy knowing you wont sell it or distribute it without their permission. Some email providers even require that you tell people why they are getting your email, a la: You are getting this email because you signed up to receive news from us on our website.

And on that note, you can sign up for newsletters right here on our site. Thanks!

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