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Email Spam Guidelines: 3 Things that Kill Deliverability

June 15, 2016
By Phil Davis

email-spamWith the rate of unwanted, “spammy” emails reaching nearly 50% in 2015, email deliverability remains a top concern for database marketing teams. And the penalties for not complying with the CAN-SPAM Act are hefty—for each email you send that violates the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the FTC can fine you up to $16,000. That’s $16,000 for every individual email address that receives a non-compliant message. If you’re sending messages to a rather large list, non-compliance can be costly.

So how does the FTC know if your email qualifies as spam? Basically, email spam filters look for spammy signals in your content. Each signal is assigned a specific score. Your message receives a total score, which determines whether or not your email is delivered.

The FTC’s website includes CAN-SPAM’s main requirements for compliance and deliverability, but here are three of the most common mistakes email marketers make that trigger spam filters.

1. Too Many Images and Not Enough Text

According to MailChimp, this is the most common reason emails get blocked by spam filters. If you’re thinking about sending out an invitation to an event using an image-only HTML email, think again. One customer sent a message that only included a single large graphic and a line of unsubscribe text. The sender’s typical bounce rate for email campaigns was 3%, but the large graphic was flagged by spam filters and earned the sender a 26% bounce rate for the campaign.

2. Spammy Keywords in Your Email Subject Line

Trigger words in your subject lines can cause emails to become caught in spam filters. HubSpot provides an exhaustive list of words to watch out for, categorized by type. It also includes some more subtle trigger words that you may not have considered spammy, like:

  • Hello
  • Never
  • Remove
  • Click
  • Only

In addition to specific keywords, subject lines typed in all caps are also considered spammy.

3. Inadvertently Mailing Spam Traps

Email spam traps are real, working email addresses that were abandoned by their creators and have remained dormant for an extended period of time. If you aren’t performing regular list hygiene, you may have spam traps within your list.

Emailing a spam trap usually has two outcomes. The first is that it will deliver a hard bounce, and you have the opportunity to remove the address. The second and worse scenario is that your “from” domain could be blacklisted by the provider, and all communications you send will be automatically filtered into the spam folder.

Complying with spam laws is crucial to ensure deliverability, but there are other best practices to keep in mind. By avoiding the above mistakes, you can help keep your sender reputation squeaky clean.

Ready to clean your list? It’s easier than you think. Get started with a free email address validation report today!

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