How to avoid your email marketing campaign going to the spam folder

It has been a while, as I have had a wee shift and returned to my roots  – I’ve moved back North to work at McCann Erickson.

I’ve been looking at some practical advice to share about creating email campaigns that don’t hit the spam box, so here is what I can share that I’ve learnt and are good to share with novice email developers:

  • A professionally designed email with the correct HTML code throughout will ensure your email looks its best in all browsers and you will avoid high spam scores for bad coding.
  • Make sure your email doesn’t have any missing or redundant code.
  • Don’t miss out the email title.
  • Spell everything correctly.
  • Ensure your email is not created solely as images. This is a well know tool that spammers use to get past content filters.  Try to get a good mix of HTML text and images in your emails for the best results.
  • Always send a plain text version with your HTML email to ensure that if the recipient cannot use HTML or is opening it on a PDA or phone, they will still be able to view it.
  • Always try to ensure the plain text version matches the HTML version as closely as possible.
  • NEVER USE CAPITALS when you don’t have too. It’s even worse when whole lines are in capitals
  • Avoid using italics and very large fonts.
  • Avoid using non standard colours.
  • Avoid forms in the email itself.
  • Images accompanied by little or no text
  • Very long list of recipients – send out in phased batches.
  • Ensure the email address is valid.
  • Large or very long messages exceeding a recipient’s limit
  • Attachments
  • Colored backgrounds
  • Large fonts
  • Colored fonts
  • Messages created with Microsoft FrontPage
  • Punctuation in the subject line
  • HTML font color is gray, red, yellow, green, blue, magenta or “unknown to us”
  • Trigger words or phrases in the body or subject line, such as “click,” “free,” “guarantee,” “limited-time offer,” “urgent matter” (see below).

Common spam triggering words

These are words which you really want to share with your copywriters and tell them not to use as they put the spam bots in a frenzy:

  • Dear Friend – either personalise properly or use Sir/Madam.
  • Free – Free offer, Free trial, Free application, Free sample, Free access, Free anything can cause spam problems especially when used in capitals.
  • No obligation.
  • No risk, low risk, risk free.
  • “Click here” or “click below”.
  • Order now.
  • No catch.
  • Money back guarantee.
  • Click to be removed.
  • Have you been turned down.
  • Never mention spam or spam legislation in your emails.
  • Click
  • Trial (our trial product…)
  • Dear ….
  • Not intended for residents of… (this could be in the disclaimer)
  • Bankruptcy (discussing your workout practice)
  • Call now (to register for your seminar)
  • Limited-time offer
  • Full refund
  • Save up to…
  • Guaranteed
  • Cash (as in “the acquiring company agreed to a deal composed of cash and stock…”)
  • Millions of pounds (in the verdict or transaction…)
  • Income
  • Urgent matter
  • Potential earnings
  • Breakthrough
  • Free offer, free quote

I’ve heard Mailchimp is a very good email distribution client, so have a look!


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