How to increase e-mail delivery rates, part 1: Avoiding spam filters

One of the most frequent questions we hear from people who are looking into or using Email Marketing is how to ensure that their e-mail reaches its intended audience and gets looked at. In this post and the next post, we will get a solid introductory grasp of the subject of email deliverability.

The first thing to look at, obviously, is spam filtration. If your message is filtered as spam, it will probably never be read, so preventative measures are definitely in order. The single most important thing you can do to make sure your messages don’t get marked as spam is also the simplest and most logical: don’t send spam! Send quality content at reasonable intervals. If the message you’re sending contain a sufficient quantity and variety of original text, you’re not likely to have to worry about trying to do anything sneaky to get past the spam filters.

You can also improve the delivery rate of your messages by improving the ‘relationship’ between your own server and those of the receiving servers by setting up a Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which reduces the chances that spammers will be able to use your domain name by specifying which computers are allowed to send e-mail from your domain. Instructions for setting up an SPF for your domain can be found in our knowledge base article on the subject.

A second line of defense for avoiding spam filtration is to run your message through some spam filters before you send it out to your subscribers. If you’re using ActiveCampaign Email Marketing, you can use our EmailCheck addon to run your message through an up-to-date copy of SpamAssassin that we maintain on our servers. SpamAssassin is the most popular spam filter on privately maintained servers, and the addon willgive you a list of any specific problems it finds so that you can correct them before sending the message. You can also test your messages against the major webmail services’ spam filters by simply sending a copy of the message to your own accounts on those services. It’s a good idea to maintain a test mailing list consisting of all of your own e-mail addresses and those of colleagues working with you on your marketing efforts, and to send a copy of each message to this list prior to sending to your main list. That way you can anticipate and correct most problems before they happen.

The third way to prevent your messages from being filtered as spam is to prevent your subscribers from marking your messages as spam. This means always enabling double opt-in features in your mailing list management software. It may seem like you’ll be losing a few subscribers who can’t be bothered to confirm their subscription, but in the long run those subscribers probably weren’t that interested in your mailing list anyway, and likely wouldn’t have remembered signing up in the first place. That translates into more spam complaints.

In my next post on this topic, I’ll be discussing ways to keep your hard-won subscribers, and maximize the effectiveness of your mailings.

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