Reckless email marketing is counterproductive, but spammers never give up. As a result, ISPs use aggressive strategies to tackle spam. Unfortunately, this makes things difficult for ethical email marketers. If you are an email marketer, email deliverability will always be a big challenge. That said, with the right strategies, you can still manage to reach your subscribers.

Build your mailing list honestly

Voluntary subscription is the best way to build your list. This way, you have an audience that wants to hear from you. Your open and click through rates will be high and this will improve your reputation with ISPs.

Never buy email lists or use services that offer to send your emails to their lists. Many recipients will mark your emails as spam because they never opted to receive them. This will hurt your reputation and future emails from you will go to the junk folder. Most email service providers forbid mass mailing to people who have not opted to receive them. You are likely to be pulled up by your service provider as well. Scraping email addresses from the web is equally bad and is illegal in many countries.

Always reconfirm subscriptions with subscribers. This is called double opt-in. It keeps fake addresses out of your list and increases your credibility. As a result, your subscribers are more likely to read your emails.

Keep your list clean

Email addresses become invalid when people or service providers close email accounts. Keeping invalid addresses on your list will increase your bounce rate. ISPs often block emails from senders with high bounce rates. Remove invalid email addresses from your lists. It will keep your bounce rate low and save you some money if you are using a paid service for sending emails.

Graymail is a harder problem to tackle than invalid addresses. Some people opt to receive emails from you, but never get around to opening or interacting with them. Email sent to these inactive subscribers is called graymail. Graymail is not spam, but it can hurt your reputation with service providers. Email clients observe user behavior. If people keep deleting your emails without reading, there is a high probability that it is spam. This could affect the deliverability of your emails. To avoid this, try to re-engage with inactive subscribers. Request the subscriber to reconfirm their subscription. If you don't get any positive response after a couple of attempts, remove them from your list. Inform them so that they can reactivate their subscriptions if needed.

Always include an easy method for people to unsubscribe from your list in every email. This is also a legal requirement in many countries. If someone wants to unsubscribe, remove them from the list. Some people don't honor unsubscribe requests or put the person back on the list after a few days. Both these strategies are bad because your messages will be marked as spam.

Be careful with the subject line

The subject line has an important role to play in email marketing. It should be good enough to convince the recipient to open your email. That said, aggressive tactics to grab attention are often counterproductive. They may also trigger the spam filters of mail service providers and email clients. Here is an example: "*** UNBELIEVABLE DISCOUNT *** JUST FOR TODAY, ONLY FOR YOU!!!!" Here are some common pitfalls to avoid while drafting the subject line.

1. Misuse of capital letters
Avoid unnecessary use of capital letters in the subject line. Using capital text is like shouting in verbal communication. You will annoy your readers. Besides, it's a common technique used by spammers. Use this strategy and your mail will most likely land in the recipient's junk mail folder.

2. Using exclamation points and special characters
Exclamation marks and special characters in the subject line are common in junk mail. Using a series of exclamation points like the example above is a shortcut to the junk folder. You don't want to take that route. Besides, it makes your communication look like an unprofessional sales pitch.

3. Using spam trigger words
Avoid words or phrases that make your message look like a sales pitch. Words like "free", "no obligation", "discount", "offer" and "coupon" are best avoided in the subject line. They are common in spam mail and may trigger spam filters.

Things to be careful about in the message body

Like the subject line, if you are not careful with the message body, your email may end up in the spam folder. Here are some tips to improve your chances of making it to the inbox.

1. Don't use unusual font sizes or colors
Text in red font is a heads up for spam filters. Making text unreadable by using the same color for the text and the background or using tiny fonts is also bad. There's no place for such pranks in professional email marketing.

2. Don't use JavaScript, active content or attachments
Due to security reasons, most email clients will not run JavaScript or allow active content like flash and video embeds by default. Attachments, especially large attachments, can trigger spam filters. Instead, use a link to the content in your email. This keeps your email light and reduces load time.

3. Don't include forms in your email
Most email clients and providers don't allow forms due to security concerns. Again, the right method is to provide a link.

4. Don't use URL shorteners
Spam and fraudulent mail sometimes use URL shorteners to hide the real targets of links. Instead of shortening URLs, use correct links with appropriate anchor texts.

5. Use images and text wisely
Emails containing large images or a large number of images tend to trigger spam filters. They also increase the size of your email. Use only a few small images. Keep the right balance between text and images. Emails with a lot of text can also go to the spam folder. Besides, long emails are usually ineffective. People are overwhelmed by the number of emails they get. You can't expect anyone to spend more than a minute on promotional mail. Balance images and text to keep the email small, meaningful and effective.

6. Request subscribers to add your address to their address books
Most email clients deliver messages to the inbox if the sender's email address is in the address book. Request subscribers to add your sending email address to their address books.

Email deliverability is a major challenge in email marketing. The reputation of the sending server is critical. Instead of using your web host or mail client, use a good email marketing platform. You can then stop worrying about server reputation or changing spam detection technologies. You will also get powerful tools to make email marketing easier.

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