Avoiding the spam box

We talked about words that trigger filters to mark your emails as spam. Spam filters don’t just stop there.

We know that some words instantly get spam filters backs up, but did you know that even sending an email out with the subject line in capitals is enough to stop your mail getting through? And you thought that you were making your point!

It is worth bearing in mind that there are several factors that go into making your email appear as though it is spam. Some of these will no doubt be a surprise and others will be obvious. We are not about to tell you that there is a way to get around spam filters, so that your recent promotion for Viagra gets to your mailing list. What we do want to do is impart some information on how to produce an email campaign that works – and doesn’t get stuck in someone’s spam folder.

Don’t trigger the spam filter

  • Carefully consider your content and make sure it is relevant to your subject matter and not pushy or ‘spammy’. Making a blatant pitch for something like mortgage products or mentioning ‘money’ repeatedly in your content really riles spam filters. The filters know the email is unsolicited and that the content is unlikely to be of any help to the recipient. Straight to the spam box, do not pass GO, do not collect £200.
  • Avoid calls to actions like ‘click here’ and ‘buy now’.
  • Don’t use all capital letters, especially in the subject line. You are shouting and no one likes a big mouth.
  • Avoid using bright red or green fonts in the email.
  • Do not use the HTML that you find in Word to create your email (yes, some people think that they can). It is not compatible. Always validate your email code – there are guidelines for a reason.
  • If the ratio of images to text is not equal or worse the email content is one big image, your email is likely to head away from the inbox of your potential customers.
  • Don’t go crazy with the exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (See what I mean, it is annoying).

Once your perfectly coded email, with considered copy and design, is ready to test then there are some things that you should remember too. If you send a test email to several recipients within the same company at once, a spam filter will often think that this is an attack. Therefore perform individual tests periodically. In addition, using the word ‘test’ in the subject line is also a way to send your email directly to the spam box.

The score with spam

Spam Score – the number assigned by the spam-scanning rules. If you set a spam threshold of 6, any message scoring 6 or higher is flagged as spam, depending on your settings. So generally speaking anything below 5.0 points is not considered as spam

Points to consider

  • Shouting in your email, or using capital letters will give you a score of 0.21 points.
  • Keep your HTML tags down to a minimum. You could score anything between 0.31 to 1.78 points based on the frequency of your HTML tagging.
  • Ensure that you use the http:// prefix in hyperlinks, or this will cost you 1.28 points. Substitute a URL for an IP number and you will tot up 3.1 points.
  • Getting fancy with your ‘unsubscribe’ link could cost you up to 2.70 points – just tell it how it is. Everyone knows how one works.
  • There are triggers that lower your spam score if, for example, sending newsletter and saying it is a newsletter in the subject PLUS including a date could reduce the spam score by -1.60 points!
  • Finally, if your message is between 20k – 40k in size then you will find that you reduce your spam score again. Get too big or too small and it will have the opposite effect.

Every time we send out our emails, they are tested to ensure that they are not deemed as spam.


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