Avoid the Spam Folder

How database management impacts your email deliverability and campaign success + Tips to eliminate spam complaints.
Rebecca DeYarman
Email Marketing
September 2022

It's the dreaded spam folder. The junk messages and promotions you do not want your name or your brand next to in someone's email box. Or having to embarrassingly ask your contacts to "check your spam folder if you don't see our message."

But what makes emails get filtered to that folder and how do you avoid it?

As the name suggests, spammy content is a surefire way to skip the inbox and achieve spam folder status. Emails that appear to be spam include unknown email addresses in the from field, misspelled subject lines, all caps, large and/or bold font sizes throughout with little regard for aesthetics, shameless promotional content with little value to the recipient, random links throughout, and more. 

However, for most businesses sending email marketing, it isn't spammy content that keeps messages from reaching their intended audience. Instead, list and database management (or failure thereof) can play a vital role in the fate of your email marketing campaigns.

Email Database Management Essentials

When managing client and customer emails, it is essential to have an organized system in place. A customer relationship management (CRM) system is often the first step in creating a foundation for email marketing success. 

A CRM allows your business to categorize, track, and manage all email contacts. These contacts can belong to your customers, clients, employees, vendors, and more. Developing a systematic and thoughtful strategy to manage your email list in a robust CRM can make all the difference in your email marketing ROI.  

Identify Spam Complaints + Unsubscribes

 When a user reports your company as spam (vs. unsubscribing), it hurts your reputation as a sender with the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP considers many variables when filtering emails across the web, and spam complaints are one such factor. 

A CRM and email service provider (ESP) allows your business to control and manage spam complaints in two ways. First, your email marketing should promote content related to your contact's interests.

 For example, suppose a customer signs up to receive email coupons but receives detailed articles or blogs about company happenings. In that case, they may not be interested in additional emails about things they didn't signup to receive. Breaking down your email content by category and allowing users to opt-in to specific topics will help eliminate unnecessary spam complaints.  

A second way a CRM and ESP help you manage spam complaints is by offering analytics and insights into your email activity. For example, when an email is sent, your reporting will alert you to users that have marked your message as spam. Remove these users from your list immediately.

It is also essential to keep your email opt-out process up to date and ensure it is functioning correctly. Giving users the option to unsubscribe should be included in every email communication in compliance with the CAN-SPAM laws. This option should be easy to find, as a hidden button may spur the user to click "report spam" instead of unsubscribing from the emails. 

 It is often advantageous for businesses to have an opt-out process that allows users to select the types of content they wish to receive, unsubscribe from emails they do not want to receive, or choose a final option to unsubscribe to everything. 

While every company deals with users marking their emails as spam occasionally, take a proactive approach to ensure users receive information of interest and have the option to unsubscribe if desired. 

Manage Invalid Email Addresses

 As with any business, your CRM system likely has invalid email addresses. It is important to check for these addresses consistently and remove them from your system. In addition, keeping updated and active contacts provides more accurate metrics to better tailor and target future email marketing campaigns.

An invalid email address can occur when an email address is misspelled. By using a double opt-in method, subscriptions are confirmed, and emails are verified for validity, reducing potential data entry errors and increasing your credibility for the ISP to deliver your message to the inbox. 

Other emails may be invalid due to a user changing companies or creating a new email account. Maintain a good list by checking your ESP for bounces. Remove email addresses from your account that "Hard Bounce," as this is a sign that the email is no longer active. 

Apply Deliverability Best Practices

When sending an email to a subscriber, their inbound email server will use various methods to determine your content's legitimacy. For example, the system will determine if the email comes from the server and the email address it claims to be sent from. It also verifies that the server has been authorized to send the email on behalf of your email address. 

For this process to run smoothly, choosing your account's "from address" is important. Never use a free webmail address for this process, as this will increase the likelihood of the email going to spam. Email marketing messages are more likely to be delivered, opened, and acted upon if it comes from you or a person within your company.

Avoid Spammy Practices

While proactivity in managing your lists and creating quality content are important factors in your email marketing strategy, it is also essential to avoid these email marketing pitfalls:

1. Do not purchase email lists from other companies

While it may be tempting to purchase a large list for an email campaign, this can be risky for businesses wishing to build a quality email marketing database. Users should be aware of who is sending them emails, and should have personally opted-in to those lists prior to receiving correspondence. 

2. Do not send to users who have not signed up to receive your emails

Email messaging should always require (at minimum) a single opt-in option. If a user has not opted in to receive your messages, it can be risky to send correspondence to them. This is poor practice and can put you at risk of breaking compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act and engaging in illegal marketing practices. 

3. Avoid opt-ins that are selected by default

Users are often frustrated to receive ongoing marketing communication with a business where the opt-in was "pre-checked" during a transaction or other online event. Ensure that your users are knowingly and willingly opt-in to your email marketing campaigns. This will provide the highest rate of success in your future strategies. 

Set Up Your Company for Email Success

Email marketing involves more than just a good subject line, content, and an appealing image. Behind-the-scenes work, strategy, and database management are vital factors in maintaining success in the inbox. 

Don't let your hard work get pushed to spam! Instead, contact MatchPoint Partners to maximize your email marketing strategy and ensure your company's messages are optimized to reach the inbox.

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