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“Didn’t You Get My Email?”

By Heshy Friedman

 

Why you’re suddenly invisible

Last month we discussed your website and how critical it is for incoming viewers to see you in your best light.

Now, what about your outgoing messaging?
Did you know that you may be making your emails disappear from your audience’s inboxes?

It’s true—and it’s all too easy. Because Outlook, Gmail, and all the other major email clients filter incoming mail, and they are very quick to judgement.

You can very easily ruin your reputation as far as these gatekeepers are concerned, and not even know it. Get labeled as a “spammer,” and it’s all over.

But first, if you don’t know how the term originated, watch this classic 1970 Monty Python sketch on DailyMotion (3.5 minute video).

Much like the classic Jewish mother-in-law’s lament, “What am I, chopped liver?” the catchphrase that associated another minced meat product with undesirable, unavoidable byproducts in the minds of millions was, “I don’t like Spam!”

Luckily for the internet and British comedy, Hormel Meats developed a sense of humor. More on the origin of the term here (2 minute video).

 

Here are the top 13 pitfalls that get you labeled as “spam.”

Your audience may do it for you.

Spam in your inbox used to be a huge problem, much like the junk phone calls you get all the time.It’s gotten a lot better recently, because people have a powerful weapon: they can just right-click on your email and choose “mark as junk.” It only takes a few of those clicks, and those major email clients will put you on a blacklist. Easy to get on, almost impossible to get off again.So, make sure your message is desired, polite, and attractive.

Follow these steps to stay on your recipients’ good side:

  1. Build your mailing list properly. Ask permission to add addresses, and don’t buy lists.
  2. Obey local email laws. Where applicable, include a mailing address, avoid deceptive or missing subject lines, and make sure there is a clear, convenient way to unsubscribe.
  3. Use a leading email program. There are plenty of reputable vendors to choose from. Check their reputation or consult an expert before selecting your email service.
  4. Quality over quantity. Recipients should look forward to your messaging, not be annoyed by it. Set a regular schedule that you can stick to and work hard on the quality of your content. Once a week is a good starting point.
  5. Don’t look “spammy.” Too many bright colors, emojis, or symbol characters, “shouting” in all caps, or multiple exclamation points can make recipients reach for that “junk” button.
  6. Compose a great subject line. To persuade your reader to open your email, don’t give away the punchline at the start—write a clever, thought provoking “teaser.” Track what works with your audience, and you’ll get proficient at creating headlines that work.

    Your emails may be triggering automatic filters.

    It’s bad enough when your customers label you as spam. What do you do when the robots turn against you, too?

    Those email clients mentioned earlier employ algorithms to evaluate incoming mail. They don’t care if your message is solid gold—if it triggers their automatic filters, you’re done.

    Watch out for these email booby traps:

  1. “The Purge:” It’s more than a hit movie. Monitor your emails for “bouncebacks,” or undeliverable emails, and delete those addresses. Too many failed deliveries may trigger a blacklist from your audience’s email providers—or your own.
  2. Don’t stuff your email with hyperlinks. More than a couple of hyperlinks in an email, and filters start to take notice. Let intriguing subject lines and compelling copy sell your message and get that click on your well-placed link.
  3. Don’t use a personal email account. This is a critical beginner mistake to avoid. It may be tempting to just set up a mail merge, but too many “CCs” and “BCCs” can unleash the email watchdogs.
    If your personal email account gets blacklisted, that can impact much more than your business.
  4. Proofread. Thanks to those Nigerian princes, emails that have too many typos or that don’t sound like native English can get rejected by both human and AI readers.
  5. Clean up your links. Watch out for overly long or complex web addresses in your message. Some web browsers and search tools add tracking info or snippets of text to hyperlinks. That’s great for them but poison for email filtering. Test your links and trim them back to the minimum. (Anything after the first “.html,” or any modifiers that start with “?,” “&,” or “#,” are usually added junk.)
  6. Graphics are great, but don’t overdo it. Make sure your emails contain some content in plain text, and not just images with copy embedded in them. Emails that are just stacks of images can get flagged.

Bottom line: use your head, build your audience properly with persuasive, respectful messaging to an opted-in group, and you’ll keep your emails on the good side of the inbox.
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