How do you avoid getting marked as spam when you have a pure motive to tell legitimate subscribers about genuinely useful products, services, or news? Knowing the answer can help you set up a mass email marketing program that is sustainable for the long term and brings consistent value to subscribers.
There is a greater awareness among corporate marketers that good email marketing is both give and take. Below are a few suggestions to help you avoid spam-related pitfalls in your ongoing marketing, assuming you already comply with the CANSPAM act and follow email marketing best practices.
Do Not #1: Send to people who have not opted-in
For the most part, the days of sending batch and blast emails to purchased or scraped lists are behind us. At its core, email marketing is fundamentally based on a relationship of trust between you and your subscribers. Because email marketing spam has been so prevalent in the past, people are quite reticent to give out their email address to brands they don’t have established relationships with.
I remember once receiving an auto-responder from a person who had to stop using their primary email address because of spammy and unrelenting email marketers. The message said something to the effect of:
“Dear friend, because of an overwhelming amount of email spam, I have had to stop using my email address. If you need my new address, please contact me via phone.”
To avoid losing recipients, make sure everyone on your list legitimately requested to be there. If someone does decide to opt-out of future correspondence, make sure to honor their request within 24-48 hours and don’t mail to them again.
Over time, brands that have consistent, effective, and timely methods of honoring unsubscribe requests will have lower complaint rates, spam scores, and blacklisting (if any).
Do Not #2: Send emails without spf and dkim records
A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record is an email validation measure designed to prevent email marketing spam by verifying the sender’s IP address. SPF records allow Domain Name System (DNS) administrators to specify which senders are allowed to send mail to which domain.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a method for assigning a person, role, or organization to claim responsibility for a sent message. This is accomplished by establishing a valid digital signature that matches the DKIM record in the email’s header. Typically, DKIM is used by large consumer email providers such as AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail.
Your ESP or internal IT resources should be able to help you set up and deploy these records. Once in place, they will be available for every message you send out. Use of these frameworks is a sign of a mature email marketer. Their inclusion tells IT administrators responsible for blacklisting or reporting spam that you have nothing to hide, you are a legitimate business, and you are making yourself accountable for the messages you send. Having consistent SPF and DKIM records can also contribute to your ability to consistently get placed in your recipient’s priority inbox.
Do Not #3: Send too frequently or irrelevantly
As I mentioned earlier, email marketing is all about trust. Have you ever met someone who only wanted to talk about themselves, their experiences, or accomplishments, seemingly all of the time? Many brands have done the same thing with their emails and simply overwhelm inboxes with information about the brand and how great it is. But, do the recipients really care?
Frequency and relevancy refers to what the user really cares about and not what you think they care about based on a past purchase or the high-level criteria they may meet for a marketing segment. Email marketing is based on a personal relationship and it’s all about value creation—what are you providing to make your subscribers happy or help them?
Ask your users what content they want and at what frequency. Check in with them periodically to get some feedback on how they feel about your emails. You will gain valuable insights into what content is resonating, what offers are perceived as valuable, and what frequency you should be targeting in your email correspondence. Just like any relationship, email marketing requires two-way conversation for both parties to feel like it’s meaningful. If you follow this practice, you will not only create sales and engagement, but a lifetime customer who will be one of your strongest brand advocates.