5 Deadly Traps That Can Kill Your Email Marketing and How to Avoid Them

How NOT to collect leads and design email content

Email 1 on 1 communication is still a key element of the marketing mix for any business, from SMEs to global corporations. In the race of delivering more and more content, marketers sometimes stray from the safe and ethical zone.

  1. Illegitimate contact gathering

    Purchasing email lists from third parties, subscribing people on your website by default without having their consent, email spiders that gather addresses from various forums and blogs – all of these are illegitimate lead collecting methods with some drastic consequences.

    Dangers are that you get blacklisted for spamming. It sometimes happens that contact lists for sale include special addresses that are solely spam traps. Not to mention that if more than 1000 recipients report your messages as spam, your mails will be blocked altogether.

    Self opt-in is the only white hat mean to get people’s email on your list. There are two ways to do it:

    - single opt-in – a web form where visitors can manually tick a checkbox to state they wish to subscribe for your email newsletter

    - double opt-in – when you send a follow up email after people check the box on your form, asking them to confirm their option once more. It’s slower, but ensures a high quality of leads.

    Tip: when you present visitors the opt-in, you can suggest them to save your email to their Contacts list. It will not work wonders, but the risk of bouncing gets a bit lower. You should also leave a functional way to unsubscribe, either by a visible link in the body of the email, or by email reply to your message with the text “unsubscribe”.

  2. Spam-triggering content

    As Google states, “the way Gmail classifies spam depends heavily on reports from users”. There are basically two ways that Gmail users can flag abusive messages: Report spam and Report phishing. The other web-based email clients have similar methods. But don’t take their word for it. Bots also play a major role in categorizing the quality of emails. Therefore, you should pay attention to the equivocal content elements that may get your message caught by default in spam filters.

    Hubspot published a list of spam-triggering words that are especially problematic if used in the subject of the emails. This includes terms related to money making, such as “earn extra cash”, “get paid”, “home based business”, “online biz opportunity” and even the simple “buy”, “collect” or “earn”. “F r e e” with spaces between letters is a surefire way to get filtered. Even apparently benign words can get you filtered - “Hello” is one you surely didn’t think about.

    Definitely avoid the type of content that resembles phishing attempts. Phrases like “credit card number” or “password” indicate that you may try to obtain personal information from the recipient for illegal purposes.

    There are factors that can determine the spam flagging of your entire domain or your IP address. The use of non-authenticated sender is one of them, meaning the lack of certain encoding attributes in the sender line of the email, which may conceal bulk mailing. Affiliate marketing programs may associate your brand with spammers, if such messages are sent to promote your product, so make sure you monitor your affiliate relations closely.

    Of course, mail bots can be wrong at times. It happened to me that legitimate system mails I get from sites I subscribe to arrive in the Spam folders because Gmail interprets them as falsely looking like “bounced message” responses, while they truly are this. However, it’s better to be cautious and avoid any possible reasons of being blacklisted.

  3. Dull subject lines

    Once you’ve got past spam filters, you still have one objective to attain: people’s interest. Email subject line is the hot spot that ensures your message gets opened – if it’s engaging enough.  How to compose it for best possible impact? Keep it simple and crisp. Use engaging words but don’t design it as a purposely attention bait. It’s best to underline the main topic people will find in the email body and suggest the benefits for the reader. Put an accent on what is hot and special in your email, without the actual words “hot” and “special”.

  4. Improper timing

    If your newsletter arrives on certain time zones during nighttime, it’s not the best situation but neither worst it can be. The true worst is when you deliver at the highest rush hours of the day, say from 12 to 15. You are not only risking to be overlooked, but also to annoy people by distracting them from their activities, which will probably result in them hitting the Spam button. Note that, according to some recent statistics, about 21% of email recipients report it as spam, even if they know it isn’t.

  5. Not checking the validity of your lists at least yearly

    People are changing their email address frequently, so if you fail to renew your lists you’ll be shouting in the void. It seems like 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months and 30% of subscribers change their email address annually – according to the conclusions of a Marketing Profs panel. You should send confirmation messages to users in order to make sure they are still there. Also, unsubscribe those addresses who bounce multiple emails you send. This way you will be sure to have better statistics of your email deliverability.

    One last thought: your goal should be not just to reach people’s inboxes, but to obtain their attention and involvement with the messages you deliver. If you failed to do so, then even if you send bulk mail only to addresses that are on the CAN SPAM lists, you’re still sending spam – soft spam, I may add, one that doesn’t violate people’s space but is still of no interest. You will hardly get any attention, so the campaign is of no effectiveness. Therefore, focus on obtaining initial user permission to send mails, which makes their first commitment that they are interested in what you deliver. Go on and nurture their engagement on the way.

Good luck!