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Email newsletters: design rules and reasons for spam

Email marketing remains one of the key elements in the promotion of goods and services. It is also one of the cheapest ways to contact your audience. However, email marketing can only be effective if it is done properly. We discussed with Step Link's specialists why emails end up in spam and what you can do to ensure that your mailings reach their recipients.

Gathering a contact base

Email marketing starts with building a list of contacts. There is one important rule: all subscribers must agree to receive mailings. That's why it's better not to add addresses from open sources to your contact database. People usually react negatively to emails from senders they don't know. They will complain about the newsletter and your emails will end up in spam. In addition, complaints will be a wake-up call to the mailing services, which may cause them to block you as a sender.

The subscriber must be willing to give you their email address. There are several ways to do this:

  • The easiest way is to provide a form on your website. If the person wants to subscribe to your information material, they will do it themselves.

  • You can also collect contacts when a person buys something from you. Offer them to subscribe to a newsletter with promotions and interesting offers. Some people will be interested.

  • When people register on the site, they almost always leave their email address. You can use this to send useful emails.

Remember that incorrectly collecting a contact database is one of the most common ways that emails end up in spam.


Irrelevant emails

These are emails that do not meet the recipient's expectations. For example, you may have offered to subscribe to useful content, but you are sending sales emails or company news that only employees will be interested in. As a result, your statistics will show low open rates, a high percentage of unsubscribes and a high number of clicks on spam buttons. To avoid this, link emails to the sales funnel and try to automate as much as possible based on subscriber actions. Segmentation and personalisation will also help. The more precisely you define your audience and the content you need to deliver, the more likely it is that an email will reach their inbox.

Technical reasons why emails end up in spam

Sending from free mailboxes. To work with mailings, it is important to have an email address on the company domain, preferably several for different types of mailings.

Incorrect SPF/DKIM settings. The mailing list service itself provides these. You can also use your own settings if you are sure of your reputation as a sender.

Sending bulk mailings without 'warming up' the sender's address. If you haven't sent from this address before, sending thousands of emails at once is a bad idea. Start with work correspondence, you can organise mailings to colleagues and then gradually increase the number of emails you send.


Design rules

There are a number of design rules for mailing lists. It is important to follow them so that spam filters do not reject your emails.

  • Balance images and text. A message that consists only of images will often end up in spam. It may also simply not be displayed to the recipient. An email should be at least 50% text.

  • Do not use shortened links. Spam filters may suspect you are hiding malicious sites.

  • Minimise the number of stop words (e.g. free, money, promotions, etc.). This does not mean that the presence of such a word in an email will necessarily send it to spam. But a combination of factors can make it happen.

  • Every email should have an unsubscribe link. If you do not include an unsubscribe link, it will be considered spam.


Useful tips

Email services are secretive about their algorithms for identifying emails as "spam". However, if you have honestly built up a database of contacts, tidied up your technical settings and filled your emails with quality content, they are very likely to get through.

Some useful tips from the Step Link experts

  • Make subscribing to a newsletter optional;

  • Make sure you have a content plan;

  • Try to send automated welcome emails immediately after subscription. Then communicate regularly with your subscribers;

  • Do not send more than one or two emails a week to the same recipient- Send only useful information;

  • Keep your contact database up to date. Regularly remove non-existent and inactive addresses from your database. This will prevent you from sending emails to 'dead' addresses and increase the response rate.


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