14 Apr Email Marketing – Blacklists and Best Practices
Email Marketing – Blacklists and Best Practices
If email is an important part of your wider marketing strategy, the last thing you want is for your messages to thrown in the bin, or worse yet, flagged as spam. Once you are on an email blacklist it is an onerous task to get off it and, more often than not, your business has already suffered as a result.
So how do you stay on the straight and narrow and off the blacklists? There are a number of things you should be doing to make sure your emails reach their intended target and that they actually get read.
[Tweet “Your email list is one of your most valuable assets so look after it.”]
Don’t buy email lists.
Seriously, I don’t care how tempting it might seem to add 500, 1000, 5000 potential customers to your database, buying email lists is one of the most hazardous things you can do. Not only are you sending emails to individuals that have never asked to hear from you but you also risk adding “honeypot” email addresses to your list. There are several anti-spam agencies that maintain a list of email addresses that were either abandoned a long time ago or never registered. They then place them around the Internet and wait for unscrupulous list compilers to sell them to you. Any email sent to one of these addresses will land your email address, domain and IP on a spam blacklist.
Your email list is one of your most valuable assets so look after it. Do not share it, sell it or poison it with irrelevant recipients. Make sure every address on that list has asked to be there and is happy to receive your marketing emails.
Double opt in and unsubscribe
It may seem like a lot of extra work but a double opt in is best practice and will protect your campaigns. Even if you avoid the honeypot addresses, using out of date or incorrect email addresses can also end up sending you onto the blacklist. Every time one of your emails bounces back undelivered, the spam police take notice. By using a double opt in, you are verifying every address that signs up to your marketing emails. This is especially important if you take signups manually at events or via other none electronic channels.
Follow up this double opt in by making your unsubscribe process as easy as possible. This might seem counter-intuitive but lets face it, someone who is trying to unsubscribe is already annoyed by your contact. Don’t annoy them more by hiding your unsubscribe link in the small print at font size 4. Try scrolling through one of your marketing emails quickly; can you see where to unsubscribe first time? No, well make it bigger, put it on a button, put it right at the top. Now you know you are focusing your marketing efforts at your best potential customers.
Write great content
Try to limit the amount of marketing emails you send. Many users will soon get tired of receiving daily or even weekly emails. When you send emails out to your subscribers, make sure you have a good reason and back it up with some great writing. Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar is important. Poorly written emails will also have the spam police sit up and take notice. If you don’t have the skills in-house, consider using a professional copywriter.
As well as writing great content, you need to make sure you are avoiding words and phrases that easily get flagged as spam. FREE, AMAZING, TRIAL, OFFER, PRIZE, DISCOUNT. All words we see used too frequently. Never put these in your subject line and limit their use in the body of your emails. There are many more problem words and phrases, do some research and keep your emails safe.
Watch your formatting
When preparing your emails avoid overly large fonts or excessive use of different colours, especially red. Using a standard template is a good idea and will ensure that all your marketing emails have the same look and feel. Once you have applied best practice to your template it will help maintain it over time.
Formatting extends to your use of images as well. Most email clients will not automatically load images and will require your subscriber to click to enable them. You should avoid relying on images with text. If you absolutely must use them, ensure your alt tags are in place. Keep your use of images to a minimum and definitely don’t send emails that are just one large image.
Test and test again
Include some email addresses that you have access to. Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo should definitely be on your test list. Also, don’t forget to test on desktop clients like Outlook. Identifying problems early could save you from sending more problem emails than you have to.
Making sure you avoid landing on spam lists can be time consuming. But, in the long run, it can also be incredibly beneficial. The more refined your subscriber list is, the more likely it is to bring you a ROI. Would you rather send 1000 emails with an open rate of 2% or 300 with an open rate of 50%? Following these email marketing best practices will hopefully help you get the most out of your email campaigns.