eCommerce Insiders

Why Sending Spammy Emails is Like Putting a Turkey on Your Head

(Yes, you read the headline correctly.)

Protip: Not all attempts to gain attention are actually productive.

In a beloved Thanksgiving episode of Friends, Joey places a turkey on his head in an attention-seeking attempt to scare his buddy Chandler.

The plan ultimately backfires, ending with Joey’s head stuck in the south end of a pungent turkey.

Often, we are so desperate for someone – anyone – to pay attention to our emails that we employ questionable tactics that ultimately lands us with egg (or… turkey) on our face.

Trying too desperately to get attention from our clients can land us in the never-land of Spamville.

Your emails can be marked as spam without ever hitting your audience’s inbox.  But there are a handful of relatively simple ways to avoid being banished to doing this permanent damage to your email lists.

Avoid Spamm-y Trigger Words

One of the most certain ways to land your email in a spam filter is to include phrases like: “Click here!”, “Act now”, “Free gift”, “Save $”, “Earn $”, “Make $”, “Urgent”, “Time limited”, and “Risk-free.”

The word “free” presents a conundrum, as it’s notorious for being caught by spam filters, but the open rates for emails containing the word “free” are extremely high. To play it safe, avoid using the word “free” in conjunction with major trigger words like: “gift”, “investment”, “100% (free)”, “money”, “membership”, and “offer”.

The marketing gurus at Hubspot have curated a comprehensive list of phrases to avoid at all costs when crafting an email.

These words and phrases are basically a cloak of invisibility for your email. Use them and your customers will not see your content.

Memorize this list. Tattoo them on your forearms. Whatever it takes, treat these words like cafeteria on fishsticks day and just don’t go there.

Have a Double Opt-In Option

With a double opt-in, you are ensuring that your clients actually want to receive your emails. You can receive detailed instructions on what that entails here.

For the Cliff’s Notes version, your customers sign up for your emails, then they receive an email from you asking them to confirm their sign up. If they do not click on the confirmation, they will not receive emails from you.

It’s a slight hassle upfront, but it lands you with a more engaged, interested audience who is less likely to mark you as spam.

Have an Unsubscribe Option at the End of Every Email

While you may love every last piece of information you diffuse to your email list, your audience may not.

While you’re sharing the love and sweet deals, from time to time you will stumble across people who are clearly not interested. Give them an easy out!

After all, your email list should not mimic “Hotel California”… ie, “You can unsubscribe any time you like, but you can never leave.”

If your email server doesn’t provide you with an unsubscribe link, you can create an HTML link for your audience.

Overusing Exclamation Points

Ok, ok, you’re excited about your latest discount and free shipping, we get it. But, alas, using too  many exclamation points will land you in the spam can before you can say “Nigerian Uncle’s Inheritance.”

The occasional, well placed exclamation point may be perfectly acceptable, but make it a practice to avoid them. The same goes for all caps. Unless you want your reader to think you are yelling at them, or incapable of typing properly (if the email even hits their inbox) leave the all-caps typing to the two-finger-keyboard-pecking-typists and spammers.

Sloppy HTML Coding

Creating an email that’s either one gigantic HTML image, or simply converting your Microsoft Word document to HTML will land you in the spam-slammer, too.

Spam filters are attracted to HTML-only images like teenage girls to vampires (if you believe the novels). The attraction is consistent and fatal – don’t toy with danger. To avoid sloppy code, send out a test email and ensure there is no rogue code, and the entire email has a clean, readable look. Additionally, be sure to include a text-only email with your HTML offering, to ensure that even older programs can read it.

To avoid being marked as spam, avoid spamm-y trigger words, avoid sloppy HTML coding, and provide opt-ins and an option to unsubscribe at the end of every email. (More on this in a coming blog post!)

It can be challenging to write high quality emails, but stick with it. With time, trial and error, and much practice, you’ll find your head coming out of the turkey, and  your emails gaining in opens and click-throughs.

Have you been marked as spam in the past? How have you come back from negative a perception from your audience? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel Novotny

I’m a Paleo foodie, coffee connoisseur, and writer who is passionate about helping people achieve their potential. I divide my time between crafting written word, making memories with friends, adventuring with my husband Dave, pretending I know what I’m doing in yoga class, and exploring San Antonio with my Husky mix, Jackie. Follow me on Linkedin or Twitter!

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