Email Sender Pitfalls: How to Avoid the “Junk Mail” Box When Using Your Mass Email Service

It’s a common scenario. As part of my normal daily routine, every morning I usually sit down with a cup of coffee and sort through the emails in my inbox. And always, without fail, I find at least a few junk emails (aka “trash”) lurking. And that’s just counting the ones in my inbox. Never mind the several hundred waiting for me that got automatically filtered into the “junk mail” folder. Spam is the bane of my existence.  A lot of people feel the same way as me. Junk mail haters, unite! :)

I think most of us can agree that there are far too many “spray-and-forget” emails floating around out there. The good news is that spam filters have become pretty darned sophisticated and, when set up correctly, catch most spam messages. The bad news is that sometimes they filter the wrong emails: your legitimate “opted-in” emails that potential (or active) customers have asked to receive.  In this article we’re going to walk through some of the common pitfalls that an email sender makes and how you can avoid them.

The first mistake to avoid is sending your messages to an outdated list. This one may seem pretty simple, but it’s also one of the most common mistakes made. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, people’s needs and preferences change over time. Maybe the subscriber was super excited about learning more about garden gnomes six months ago, but has since moved on to pet rocks. :) We rarely learn the reasons why most people lose interest. The important thing to understand is that they do.

The second reason why we send messages to an outdated list is because we fail to include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of our emails. Adding this one thing to your emails will solve the “outdated list” issue most of the time. If we make it easy for our subscribers to let us know when they’re not interested in hearing from us anymore, they will usually let us know. It’s best if we make it easy for our subscribers to opt out. Why? Because this will keep our emails from being reported as spam!

Photo by Paul Irish

Weird or inconsistent presentation is another common email marketing mistake. Unfortunately, not all email clients will display your messages in the same way. And some email clients will absolutely butcher your presentation! The best solution? While not bullet-proof, using an email template that’s simple, yet elegant often yields great results. The bottom line is, if your emails are ugly your messages will probably be deleted. If your subscriber is in a bad mood, then it will probably be reported as spam.

Another common mistake is sending too frequent, infrequent or inconsistent email messages to our list. How often should you send emails to your list? Um…. I don’t know! And neither do you. The only one that knows how often the subscriber wants to hear from you is the subscriber. :) So give the subscriber some options when opting in to your list. At a minimum, you should offer frequencies of bi-monthly and monthly. Ideally, you would also offer daily and weekly emails, if you can support it. This gives the user more control and keeps your mass email service out of hot water!

Boring content or presentation is another email sender “faux pas”. You want your emails to have pizzaz! … and not just because you might turn them into customers. If your content is boring, then your chances of being reported as spam go way up. And spam is bad. Unless you like spam sandwiches. Then, I guess, spam is good! :)

The final most common pitfall an email sender makes is failing to send targeted (relevant) content to your subscribers. This is a big one! If you own a site that sells more than one product or that sells to more than one demographic, then you may very well be making this mistake right now.  Use your mass email service to break subscribers into separate groups, separated by whatever indicator or demographic you choose. Then use these groups to send highly relevant messages. You can repurpose the same emails for each group. This way, you’re still getting your message across but it stays laser-targeted across a broad spectrum of subscribers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Remember: a good email sender will find ways to entice the subscriber to keep them out of the junk mail folder. A great mail sender will fashion the message so that it never even crosses the subscriber’s mind. :)