What is spam?
There are a lot of definitions of spam. But as a general rule spam is defined as the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited messages. In plain english, if you send people emails that they haven't at some point asked to receive you're sending them spam.
The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 contains these key points:
- Never use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.
- Always provide an unsubscribe link. (always included with Minutemailer).
- The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending.
- You must include your physical mailing address.
What constitutes an email as spam isn’t always well-defined. However, to help ensure you don’t fall on spammy-side up, we have collected eight good tips to have in mind when you create your emails:
1. Avoid purchased and none active lists
Have you received an offer to purchase millions of email addresses? Does it sound to good to be true? Well, you will probably get the email addresses if you buy them but it's a very bad idea to send emails to that list. At best, your messages may end up in junk folders. At worst, you may be branded as a spammer (and end up being blacklisted). Our advice is to avoid them completely and start collecting real contact information from people that want to have your emails.
Almost as bad as purchased lists are old inactive lists. Just because someone wrote down their email address five years ago doesn't mean they want an email from you today.
2. Watch your language
Be careful on how you write your emails. Spam filters check the words and content of your emails as a way of deciding if it's spam or not. Avoid these things:
- Using phrases like “Click here now!” or “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
- Excessive use of exclamation points!!!!!!
- USING ALL CAPS. Especially in the subject line.
- Using too many risky words like "prize", "free", "bonus", "buy", "purchase" etc.
- Using bad content. Make sure your content is interesting for your readers and easy to digest.
3. Use a reliable service
There are many ways of sending your contacts emails. You can hack together your own way of sending emails or even use a Wordpress plugin. There are also cheap alternatives online but if you don't use a reliable service that won't matter, as your emails won't get through. Minutemailer uses Sendgrid (also used by Spotify and Uber amongst others) to make sure we deliver your emails as reliably as possible.
4. Avoid dirty tricks
Trying to trick spam filters might have worked before but today you risk a bad reputation for doing it. Here are some old tricks to avoid:
- Hashbusting. Inserting random characters in the subject line or content to fool spam filters, e.g. “F.ree. p.r!z.e”.
- Deceptive subject lines. Starting the subject line with “Re:” or “Fwd:” to suggest an ongoing communication with the sender.
- Misleading claims. Subject line stating that the recipient has won a prize, while the copy lists conditions that have to be met in order to claim it.
- Image text. Concealing a text message in an image to fool spam filters.
5. Pick a good "From" address
When it comes to emails your "From" address says a lot about you. Make sure you pick a good one to send from. A personal email address is often better than a firstname.lastname@example.org address. Don't change it often and ask your contacts to add you to their address book if they haven't already.
Also its always better to use your own domain for an email address than to send from a free Gmail or Hotmail address.
6. Don't use too few words
Only using images in an email is a warning sign that something isn't right. Try to write at least a sentence or two for every image you have in your email. Also add alternative texts to your images, to make the email easier to understand if the recipient has images turned off.
7. Pay attention to your links
Make sure you only link to reputable sites. Spam filters will check your links and see if there is something fishy with the destination website. Also try to avoid link shorterners.
8. Be careful with your subject line
Don't write "Test" in the subject line and try to avoid to many exclamation points and using ALL CAPS. The subject line should also summarise the intention of your email, or look to say something friendly and not be misleading.
Now give it a try
There is a lot to think about when it comes to avoiding spam filters but if you have contacts that want to receive your emails and you send them something that interests them you are going to be just fine. If you are unsure just try different ways of doing your emails and see what works best.
Good luck with your emails and let us know if you run into any problems!