For a small business owner, all this talk about spam may sound like a bunch of noise to you. All you’re trying to do is keep in touch with your clients, maybe even stimulate a few sales. But unintentionally, you may be making certain mistakes that are sending you on a very ungratifying scenic tour directly into the spam folder.

You probably weren’t aware of this, but you have a sender reputation to protect. Certain factors will affect it, just like a credit score. Below are a few steps you can take to avoid a dwindling sender score and being tagged as a spammer.

1) Keep your list squeaky clean

Avoid email bouncebacks

A hard bounce is caused by an invalid, cancelled or non-existent email address. Bounce rates are one of the key factors Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) use to determine an email sender’s score. When you start sending too many emails that fall into spam, your reputation will take a hit, and your emails will automatically go to the spam folder.

Re-engage inactive or infrequently active subscribers

Inactivity will affect your spam rating as well. Keep track of your inactive (inactive means that emails are being received but not opened) and infrequently active subscribers, and develop re-engagement campaigns for contacts who have stopped engaging with your messages.

2) Don’t buy or rent an email list

Even though buying or renting a list is not illegal, it’s definitely not part of ethical practices. Sure, email list providers will say that the people on their lists have opted-in to receiving email correspondence, but that doesn’t mean they agreed to receive your correspondence. You have no idea how many times these email addresses have been used, and if they are even still active. Which means that you might get a few hard bounces. Not to mention maybe even getting complaints which also affects your score.

And it goes even further, not only will this affect your deliverability score, if you are reported, you could be fined a significant amount of money. (Click here to learn more about the Canadian Anti-Spam law)

3) Don’t scrape websites for email addresses

Scraping websites for email addresses is the equivalent of a telemarketer making a cold call. And we all know how much people LOVE those. Don’t email people you haven’t connected with through either an enquiry, or at a networking event. Your time would be better invested on building a list of people that will actually be happy to hear from you. Think quality, not quantity.

4) Carefully craft your subject line

Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or subject line

IT’S NOT NICE TO YELL AT PEOPLE! Using all caps in your subject line may seem spammer-like, because they frequently use them. It may get a negative reaction. Using catchy, polished  language may get a better reaction.

Don’t use exclamation points!!!!!

Exclamation points make your subject line and/or email look unprofessional and spammy, and can dilute the message.

Be wary of spam trigger words

One of easiest ways to avoid being tagged as a spammer is by carefully crafting your subject line. A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds too salesy, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Think “free, guarantee, no obligation, etc.” (google spam trigger words for more examples).

Instead of using trigger words, describe what the email actually contains (which is another CALS requirement). Be creative. Think something informative and fun. Something that will entice your readers to want to read what’s inside.

5) Don’t use weird fonts, too many images and broken links

Fonts

Don’t use red, invisible or irregular fonts. Same goes for using invisible text, such as a white font on top of a white background. These are common tricks spammers use, so it will be an instant red flag for spam filters.

Avoid using too many images

Using one large image as your entire email, or too many images in general, tends to end up in the recipient’s spam folder. The text to image ratio should be greater.

Double check your links

Be wary of broken links. If your email contains broken links it may also be a spam trigger.

6) Use the double opt-in

The double opt-in is when new subscribers receive a follow-up email with a confirmation link ensuring that the email address actually belongs to them. When using double opt-in, your email lists will be naturally be more qualified, which will make them more engaged. Furthermore you’ll be able to provide proof of consent which is required by the CASL.

7) Ask your subscribers to add you to their address book

Spam filters are more aggressive than ever, sometimes even emails people want in their inbox still end up in spam. When subscribers add you to their address book, spam filters will back off.

8) Include a clear unsubscribe link in your email footer

Allowing people to unsubscribe is a crucial component of CASL compliance. Make sure the link actually works. This is also great for list hygiene because, again, anyone receiving your emails should actually want to receive them. Not doing this may get you reported.

9) Properly identify yourself and include your contact details

Another requirement of the CASL is properly stating your business name at the top of your email. It must also contain your address and either your email address, or phone number in the email footer.

10) Offer both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails

Plain text emails are simply emails without the formatting, images and colors. Cyberimpact allows you to easily create plain-text versions within the email editor. Most spammers don’t take the time to do this so it will make your email look more legit. Plus it will increase your delivery rate because believe not, not everyone has the technology to receive those fancy images on their devices.

Sure it’s great to maximize your deliverability rate, but as a Canadian business owner you have more than deliverability to consider. You also have the responsibility to comply with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law. Following tricks steps will help you kill two birds with one stone!

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