Masked identityWhy do your email go to spam? There are only two possible answers. One, you actually are a spammer, don’t respect your recipients and believe that when you came across an email address, you are entitled to do whatever you fancy with it. You don’t have the slightest idea what your readers want and actually you don’t care. Two, you are a good guy making one of these 7 common mistakes, which you can correct easily.

Ready to learn the truth?

 

What makes a spammer? 0.2% complaint rate

 

Before we discover whether you are a spammer or not, let’s discuss the definition of spam. Contrary to popular myths about certain keywords, font color, punctuation or sending frequency that would lower your email deliverability, facts are much simpler: it’s about actual users’ reaction.

You will be treated as spam if you reach 0.2% complaint rate, meaning that if 2 or more in 1000 recipients will hit “Report spam” button at your message.

 

Are you a spammer?

 

Maybe you don’t want this, maybe you even don’t know this, but you are a spammer. How to learn? Below we listed most common spammers mindsets. Could you agree with at least one of them?

 

Lack of empathy, a.k.a. Why would I care?

 

You don’t consider users’ permission a key criterion for including their addresses in your mailing list. You send newsletters without even asking to:

  • Customers who didn’t agree to get it,
  • Users who wrote to you an email with a question or issue,
  • Users who contacted you with totally different cases,
  • Innocent or non-existent owners of addresses on your bought or obtained in other way third-party databases,

Be honest: if you found a bucket of email addresses on the street, you would add them.

The problem of what user feels when she gets your unwanted message never crosses your mind or you don’t regard it as important enough to devote more attention to it.

 

Cynicism, a.k.a I know that’s rubbish

 

You don’t inform visitors that you will use their address to marketing purposes, because you think: “It might discourage them and prevent from leaving their contact. They might be afraid of getting spammed”. Well, we can totally assure you than unwanted emails are more discouraging and scary.

When you yourself see your mailing as spam, no wonder that your clients do the same! Treat such aattitude as a signal of serious troubles with your content, not with your recipients!

 

Lack of realism, a.k.a May the odds be in our favor

 

Theoretically speaking you know that recipients don’t want your emails and they didn’t agree to receive them, but you believe in good odds: “Maybe, by chance, someone from that purchased base will want my products, who knows, who can tell, nothing indicates such possibility, but let’s not get to rational, it kills all the fun!”

Of course. There is a chance that someone will out of the sudden find herself in a need of buying your products, although nothing implied that before. Still: can you base your long-term strategy on chance and deliberate violating your users’ will?

It’s a total suppression of  reality. On the other side of the screen there are real people who react to your messages – e.g. with anger. They will mark you as spam and make your reputation plummet. How different could they react, considering the circumstances?

 

Breaking promises, a.k.a Customer can’t feel too good, it’s not a charity

 

Imagine that you have an e-store with local seasoning and found a great idea for Lead Nurturing: two-month course educating on seasonings, their history, use, including fancy recipes. Great original content, based on your expert knowledge and experience. Twice a week user gets a message with new lesson.

Wonderful idea, congrats! But if a new user who subscribed to that particular course will be  incorporated into your mailing list and will start getting regular newsletters apart from course she is interested in, that might disappoint her – both out of the amount of messages and of the fact that she didn’t subscribe to your list.

You wasted a cool idea and lost a customer. I guess you were thinking, “Well, if I give something, I want something in return, namely, exposition to my marketing”. Of course, but you could’ve waited just two months – let your user first go through your educational campaign and then send regular messages , maybe after asking for permission. You would’ve created an impression that you shared something before and now – if recipient feels like – would like something in return. People are willing to reciprocate and to show gratitude, while they’re not ok with deceit. You promised education and now send me mostly offers? So unfair!

 

You want to outsmart your recipients, a.k.a “The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!”

 

You use “Re:” or “Fwd:” in the subject to make it look like a part of earlier conversation, or craft a totally misleading subject line, or give a false sender name.

You use so many tricks to make user open your message that you forget why actually you attempt to do so (unless you participate in some awkward open rate competition). What will a recipient do when she sees it’s a trap? Or worse: what if she already sees what you’re up to?

 

Desperate attempts to outsmart your recipients are the stupidest way of losing them. Nobody likes being treated as an idiot.

 

If you’re not a spammer

 

If you can’t recognize yourself in the picture above, you might be making a small mistake that lowers your deliverability. Find our tips below.

 

1 Be honest: tell what you will be sending

 

Users should know what are they subscribing to. Let know how you will utilize their addresses, what do you include in your newsletter, how often do you send it (and give possibility of adjusting it to individual preferences). You can do it in welcome email.

 

2 Send welcome email

 

If someone subscribes, send an automated welcome message in which you introduce yourself and your newsletter. That way you decrease the risk of user forgetting about subscribing and not recognizing your emails (what can result in marking you as spam).

Also use it to say thank you: kindness is simple yet powerful tool.

 

3 Don’t oversell: 4-1-1 rule

 

Newsletter sells, but it shouldn’t shout BUY BUY BUY. If your communication consists of offers only, you won’t build long-lasting relationships with your customers. They don’t need catalogues, they need value, and if your newsletter fails to deliver it, then improve it.

The ratio between promotional and not-promotional content must be tested in each case individually, but a rule of thumb to begin with is Joe Pulizzi’s 4-1-1: for every 6 messages, 4 should be neutral (informative or entertaining), 1 should include soft promotion (invitation for an event) and 1 – hard promotion.

Customer segmentation will also help, allowing you to tailor communication to recipients’ interests and engagement.

 

4 Don’t send messages too rarely

 

While people often associate spam with too many emails, the opposite might be even more dangerous. You know, some customers like your newsletters and buy a lot – why not to send them as much as they want? If you measure users’ engagement and personalize sending frequency, you can email some of your contacts even every day and squeeze sales opportunities.

 

But if you send emails too rarely, users might simply forget who you are and have troubles recalling subscribing to your newsletter. Well, can you remember newsletters you signed up for six months ago? Too much information and stimuli fight for contemporary customers’ attention to allow you for sending emails less often than once monthly.

And don’t treat it as an excuse for creating poor mailings! If you can’t design a useful message on the topic surrounding your products, it’s not a good sign, is it?

 

5 Permission, stupid!

 

In theory, it’s obvious. Don’t purchase email lists. Use double opt-in. Make unsubscribe link visible (and test if it works). Don’t keep users who don’t want your email on your list by force – even if they won’t find a way out (however it’s simple – “report spam” button), they won’t buy. Many marketers are so excited with email efficiency (40x more efficient at sales than social media) that they want to expand their base at any cost. But only organic growth works – otherwise it backfires.

 

6 Use Marketing Automation Platform

 

Marketing Automation allows you to tailor content, form and frequency of your communication to particular user, so it ensures that everyone receives exactly the message that suits her engagement with a brand, knowledge on the product and interest.

Use customer segmentation and scoring, mix traditional newsletters with dynamic emails, and utilize advanced analytics offered by Marketing Automation to discover what your customers would like to find in newsletters. Ask about their needs – you can include questions in your emails – it’s not the one-way medium.

 

7 Keep your base clean

Yes, we know, you struggled so hard to gather all that email addresses…It’s natural. 25% of emails you send don’t reach their addressees, because people make spelling mistakes when typing in their address, or they abandon their accounts. Remember that inactive addresses are sometimes used as spam traps to recognize spammers (as they are known for not taking care for their base hygiene).

Database cleaning is hard but pays off. Soon we will deliver a detailed post with instruction how to do it. Stay tuned!

 

Deep inside all spammers are scared with a vision of lost opportunity, and for them every recipient is just a number added up to  their massive list. But actually you send messages to humans, not to numbers, humans with their emotions and feeling, ready to hit “Report spam”.