That’s the million-dollar question on every email marketers mind, isn’t it? The truth is, nobody really knows. Internet service providers (commonly referred to as ISPs) are the ones who decide if your email should go to the top of your audience’s inbox, or if they should get a one-way ticket to Spam City — and no one wants to go to Spam City. The challenge is that ISPs are constantly learning and updating, and they keep their algorithms and methods close to the chest. Which makes total sense, if you think about it, because their whole goal is to keep spammers from spamming. If they were to publicize their methods, imagine how our inboxes would look. The good news is that there are ways to learn about how spam triggers work and how to avoid the possibility of being redirected to the spam box. Check out our top four ways to minimize the chance of your email marketing campaign going to Spam City:
Don’t rent them, either. Email lists are one of the most commonly used tactics by major spammers — it’s a practice they rely on, and ISPs know it. ISPs identify email addresses that are constantly hit and include them in their algorithms. If they detect that one of those addresses is part of your list, your email is much more likely to head straight to the spam folder. Beyond that, email lists are exceptionally unreliable. They can be packed with old, unused, or dead addresses, and those are no help to you.
It’s a pretty simple rule to follow, and one that you should be striving for as an email marketer in the first place. Basically, ISPs look at how much your audience engages with your content, and that helps determine how reputable you are as a sender. The higher the engagement, the more likely your email is to get to the inbox. ISPs pay close attention to sender reputation, and you’ll get very high points for engagement, opens, and clicks.
So, there are a few reasons you want to do this. First off, they don’t help you. Once you’ve identified them, get rid of them. It will help clean up your data and streamline your process. Second, bounced addresses actually damage your sender reputation. The more your emails bounce, the more red flags go up for ISPs, and that’s going to have a major effect on your email’s ability to make it to the inbox.
Your email service provider (ESP) is there to make sure your emails get through to your audience’s inbox. Good ESPs take strategic steps to ensure that they remain in good standings with the ISPs of the world. Bad ones? Not so much. If you’re on the hunt for a reputable partner, look for an ESP that asks you to provide proof that you have permission to email those records — that’s always a good sign.
Maintaining a good sender reputation may feel like an overwhelming task — and it can be in some ways. Just remember, the main goal is to create content that your audience genuinely engages with and to not follow the same tropes as the spammers.
A good rule of thumb is to look at your email campaign and ask, “Is this something a spammer would send?” If the answer is yes, switch things up! Breathe new life into your campaign through engaging copy, imagery, and design. Oh, and be sure to create a powerful call to action that will prompt your audience to interact. By doing that, and by following the other three basic rules above, you’ll be more likely to make it to the inbox without finding yourself stuck in Spam City.