How to Keep Your Web Marketing E-Mails from Looking like Spam

To avoid having your web marketing e-mails reported as spam, understand how consumers evaluate e-mails. When you think about whether your audience is likely to perceive your e-mail as spam, remember that spam is in the I of the receiver:

  • I don’t want it. Unwanted marketing e-mails are perceived as spam by most consumers, especially if they feel that they didn’t authorize the sender to send it.

  • I can’t verify it. If consumers can’t tell whether an e-mail came from a legitimate source, they perceive it as spam.

  • I think it’s too frequent. Consumers tend to perceive frequent e-mails as spam when they feel that the content is irrelevant, repetitive, or too long.

Even when consumers don’t perceive your e-mail as spam, they might be inclined to click the Spam button on your e-mail for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They can’t figure out how to unsubscribe from your e-mail.

  • They don’t trust the unsubscribe link in your e-mail.

  • They accidentally click the Spam button while sorting through their e-mail inbox.

  • They unintentionally include your e-mail while clicking the Spam button on a large group of other spam e-mails.

Keeping spam complaints to a minimum is a matter of adhering to professional practices and consumer preferences in your e-mail marketing strategy.

You can minimize your spam complaints over time by doing the following:

  • Say thanks. Send a welcome e-mail immediately after the subscriber joins the list.

    [Credit: Courtesy of Wonderland Homes and Constant Contact]
    Credit: Courtesy of Wonderland Homes and Constant Contact
  • Send e-mail reminders. Insert a paragraph of text at the top of every e-mail reminding the recipient how you obtained his e-mail address.

  • Keep your e-mail frequency in line with your e-mail content and your e-mail list subscribers’ expectations. You can read more about the relationship between frequency and content later in this list.

  • Reinforce branding. Include your logo and colors on your sign-up form and make sure that future e-mails match your brand.

  • Reinforce familiarity. Make sure that every e-mail’s From line is memorable and familiar.

  • Send a reminder letter. Send a permission reminder letter periodically that tells your subscribers exactly how you obtained their e-mail address and gives them links for updating their preferences and unsubscribing.

  • Make your e-mail content valuable so that your e-mail list subscribers continue to want your e-mails.

  • Make your sign-up process memorable for your list subscribers and clearly identify your business in every e-mail’s From line so that your audience can verify the source of your e-mails.

  • Ask everyone who unsubscribes from your e-mail list to tell you why he or she doesn’t want your e-mail. You can then adjust your strategy accordingly.

  • Use an EMP that authenticates your e-mails.

  • Include a description of your e-mail content and your typical frequency in your sign-up process. For example, if you send a monthly e-mail newsletter along with periodic promotions to your e-mail list, your e-mail list sign-up form might include a sentence that reads

    Signing up allows you to receive our monthly e-mail newsletter as well as periodic special offers related to our newest products.
  • Send only the content that your e-mail list subscribers expect you to send. For example, if potential e-mail list subscribers share their e-mail address to receive a quote for your services, don’t send them offers unless they gave you permission as part of requesting a quote.

  • Allow your e-mail list subscribers to choose their own interests. If you send several distinct types of e-mail content — such as coupons and event invitations — give your e-mail list subscribers a list of categories to choose from when signing up. Make sure to give them a mechanism for changing their interests in every e-mail.

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