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!



I always spam our office every day with links of stuff I find which I think is cool, innovative or inspiring.  So I decided to round them up in a weekly Digital Dooby instead of a trickle of spam (ew trickling Spam…not a nice thought).

So I thought I’d spread the love even more and share it with you too!  So here it is … a few links to digital stuff I like. Me, me, me.

Sharpies ‘Uncap what’s Inside
Fun site effectively using social media and tapping into the recession ‘make, do and mend’ trend. Really liked their idea for customising sandwich bags!

Sharpie 'Uncap what's inside'

Sharpie 'Uncap what's inside'

We make stories
Penguin kids site to encourage kids to learn about story telling:

Creativity doesn’t need a big budget

Made on a $0 budget with the directors in one country and the band in another this music video is pretty nifty.  Makes you think how you can come up with some really cool ideas, even when you have a lot of constraints.  Streeetches the imagination.

Sour music video

Sour music video

Webdesign and projects checklists

Inspiration about usability, design, briefs etc to help finesse your work….:

Mash-up inspiration
Lots of examples of Google maps mash-ups to inspire e.g seinfeld maps, michael Jackson tribute map, wikipedia on Google maps.

3D interactive cinema game by 02

I recently did a presentation on innovation at my agency, to keep us and clients up to speed with new happenings in the digital world.  My main conclusion was to remind people that digital is more than just a mouse and a screen.  ‘Digital can be everywhere’ in the words of our 3D bod.

One innovation I looked at was interactive Cinema, as used by Volvo.  The in-cinema car driving game is controlled by the audience holding their hands up to control the direction of the car.  It looks a bit shaky from the demo video (below), with the car not really responding to the audience movement so well. So lets hope 02’s latest application of this digital technology is a bit more slick.

Going live on 10th July, ‘Asteroid Storm’ will feature in the trailer reels before Ice Age 3 3D and G-Force in the summer, followed by Up and Toy Story 3D in the autumn.

02 Interactive Cinema game

02 Interactive Cinema game

The game takes place on ‘Starship O2’ which is trapped in an asteroid belt. The audience is told by the captain that the ship has been damaged and that their help is needed to steer the ship back on course. Again by using their hands the audience is able to control the direction of the spaceship.

The 3D game itself is powered by technology from iO and was conceived by O2’s media agency, ZenithOptimedia. Creative work was done by VCCP and Agency Republic.

People expect a more and more from their cinema – it’s not just a venue anymore, they want more of an experience and a hightened feeling of an ‘adventure’.  Family are a key audience that cinemas are wanting to tap into, so digitally lead interactive and immersive experiences like this will be a great way to keep audiences coming back for more.

Practical uses of AR

Augmented reality is fast becoming the latest disruptive technology on everyones radars.  As with all of the new technologies, there will be the problem of bandwagon jumping. Client: ‘It looks preeetty, I want one. (But I don’t know why)’.  The trick will be in creating either truely engaging and entertaining uses or on the other hand something practical.  And this is where AKQA have done a nice job.

They have created an augmented reality campaign for The United States Postal Service, which allows you to figure out which box is best for the shipment you need to send.  So nicely takes away the guess work and makes sending parcels, that bit more easy.  So ultimately you spend your $ with them.

AR is still going to suffer the problems that a) people don’t have webcams and b) can’t be bothered downloading and printing the symbol/icon which activates the software.  However, if UPS were to start printing the symbols on printed marketing literature, perhaps combined with a DM campaign then this could further bolster the campaign.

I like this idea a lot. It is a step in the right direction. I much prefer practical uses of technology.  I guess that’s a personal preference.  But hopefully, we will see many more uses like this in the future.

Update – I saw a better more practical and frankly genius (seem so obvious when you point it out type affair) idea from a clothing company:

Could this be the saviour of print media?

Bridgestone (yes the tyre company), recently wowed the crowds with a 3mm thick E-paper at a recent Tokyo trade fair. It resembles a flexible piece of paper with touch screen technology. So, it seems updateable newspapers and magazines have suddenly become within reach.

According to ePaperCentral, “unlike other e-paper devices like the Kindle and Sony’s 505/700, the Bridgestone model does not use E Ink based technologies. Instead, it uses a powerful technology built in house that could completely revolutionize e-paper called QR-LPD.” With HP and Fujitsu already pushing e-Paper, Bridgestone is the latest Kindle-killer to the market.

The A4 sized full-colour capabilities are amazing. The ability to scribble-on-screen is ensuring Bridgestone’s 13” colour screen ‘has the future written all over it’. What’s more the paper does not need a continual power supply, as when it’s switched off it maintains the image on screen through its ‘memory state’. Great news for the environment. However, two problems which are not insurmountable remain – screen refresh is rather slow (0.8 secs min) and the price is prohibitive ($500+).

Yet, I can still hear Rupert Murdoch salivating already and perhaps we can really now save some trees.

Muscle men in bikinis – Japanese wii game

Only in Japan and WTF springs to mind!

It looks hilarious. And frankly I think it’s pure genius!  Can you imagine the brain storming session … “ok so guys, we want to create a new game to target Japanese males 18-35. They’ll be living alone and have a job which leaves them lots of free time.  From our consumer research, the insight we gained is that men this age are really feeling a sense of loss of masculinity as women take over traditional male roles’…..Ok. So first idea I had was – muscle men in bikinis…that’ll make ’em feel better eh’!?

If you want to see more muscle men really in bikinis with their little bottoms waggling then just follow this link.

Muscle men! (the video gets even darker)

Muscle men! (the video gets even darker)

BBC brings classical music to the people via singing posters

“The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra has launched an outdoor campaign using posters that play music to commuters as they pass by.

BBC plays classical music to commuters via outdoor posters

The ‘Sonic’ sites from CBS Outdoor contain music chips that play classical music to promote the 2009/2010 Season. The creative encourages consumers to purchase season tickets for Scotland’s prestigious Orchestra”

What a brilliant idea. After working on a BBC Classical music brief recently, our insight was that people like Classical music far more than they might immediately think, so the challenge is to get people listening to it again and reminding them of the breadth of appeal. So these posters are brilliant to go along with the site we are producing, as they do exactly what the insight suggests – take the music to the people, rather than requiring action from them and then providing an immediate call to action, whilst the consumer is in a purchase mindset. I wonder if this includes mobile ticket purchase?

Wonder how many music labels. promoters and music branding agencies are going to be using these?

Would love to see some video of this. Please let me know if you find some.