There you are, selling a legitimate product or service – a quite impressive offer, actually – and that guy in Topeka just marked your email as spam, which is the ISP’s way of letting email users file a formal complaint. But wait, you’re not selling Canadian prescription drugs wrapped in fake Rolexes imported into the U.S. by Russian brides acting on behalf of South African barristers who represent Nigerian princes. It’s not spam. So, how do you avoid spam filters, even if you aren’t spam?
There are a few reasons why recipients would mark your email as spam when it isn’t. Understanding each reason goes a long way to avoiding future complaints and any possible damage to your campaigns’ deliverability.
Reason No. 1:
Something in that last email crossed the line in the mind of the consumer. You’ve sent 17 prior emails to Joe P. Customer, who had no problem. However, he has marked the 18th email as spam. Why? It’s a good chance you pressed your luck with your call to action. For instance, it may have been the third consecutive email telling him it was his absolute last chance to take advantage of your offer.
We’ve heard of second chances, but third final chances? It defies logic, and the savvy consumer is going to grow keen to that ruse in time. Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s also the best way to spice up email campaigns. Don’t repeat offers in emails if you can help it, change your wording frequently and even switch out templates on a regular basis. This way, it actually looks like you’re trying to connect with the customer instead of doing a hasty copy-and-paste drive-by of their inbox.
Reason No. 2:
The consumer has become an anti-internet commerce crusader, and you just happened to be in his path on the wrong day. Again, the customer who has opted in and been engaged for over a year, suddenly marks your email as spam. And every other email he gets that day as spam. Why? Because maybe last week, he opted for an online offer, felt he got scammed, and now sees all internet commerce companies as devils incarnate.
XVerify allows you to identify these complainers through our use of feedback loops, so you can add them to suppression lists or remove them altogether. Chances are if they complain about your email today, they’ll complain about your email next week. And if you happen to collect too many complaints in a short period of time, the ISPs will notice, and start playing with your deliverability rates as a warning. Know where the dangers are, avoid spam filters and preserve your reputation.
Reason No. 3:
They were too lazy to unsubscribe or couldn’t find that link. Six months ago, the customer may have been gung-ho about what you were offering, but now they’ve moved out of your service area, lost interest in your product or just had a change in circumstances that makes your emails now non-applicable to them. They would unsubscribe, but it was too much of a hassle. So instead, they marked you as spam. There, now they won’t see you again. Mission accomplished. No?
While the customer feels they achieved what they needed, they’ve now thrown a black mark on your record. To avoid this customer, and in turn avoid spam filters, always make sure the Unsubscribe link on your emails is clear and easy to see. And try to avoid lengthy exit interviews or dire are-you-absolutely-sure warnings on the unsubscribe page. That forces a lot of people to just go back to the original, mark it as spam, and go about their day a few seconds quicker than they would by jumping through your hoops.
In the big picture, unsubscribers don’t hurt your deliverability and reputation like complaints will. The time to engage the customers is not then at the end, but when they seem to become disengaged for 90 days or more. As a rule of thumb it is best to monitor the engagement of your users, if you noticed they have not been opening your last 10 mails maybe it’s time to put them into a different segment or completely remove them from your email efforts. By staying on top of your email list and email activity, you can avoid spam filters and soar to email success.