Email Marketing Strategies: Avoiding the SPAM Box
Email marketing is, pound for pound, your business’s strongest form of direct marketing. In 2015, the Direct Marketing Association of the UK recorded an average ROI of 3800% (38 dollars of revenue per every dollar spent). But it’s not worth a penny if your emails keep getting flagged as spam.
Believe it or not, it is perfectly okay to send emails to complete strangers and promote your products or business. However, the bad apples of the inbox tend to spoil it for the rest of us. You could have the best deal ever in the history of the world that you need to tell everyone about but sending daily messages with a subject line of “GET THE BEST DEAL EVER!!!! ACT NOW!!!” to an email list you bought online is liable to land you in the trash bin.
Thankfully, there are some simple email marketing best practices that will keep your business’s promotional emails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act and in your inbox right where your potential customers will see them.
Sending Emails Not Worth a “SPAM” Flag
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 established specific standards to limit bulk emails sent with nefarious intent. So long as you have intentions, compliance with the law should be a matter of minding the technical specifics.
- Don’t use false or misleading header information
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines
- Identify the message as an ad
- Tell recipients where you’re located
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you
- Honor opt-out requests promptly
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
These points apply whether you send emails in bulk or individually. The crux of what puts your emails under the jurisdiction of the CAN-SPAM Act is whether it is sent as a “commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
The law distinguishes between commercial content and transactional or relationship content. Commercial content is defined as something that promotes a product or service that in some way translates to boosting your bottom line. Transactional or relationship content, on the other hand, covers emails which send invoices, receipts and other important information that your customers need.
Commercial content is always required to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act but transactional or relationship content is exempt so long as it doesn’t contain any false or misleading information.
Google on Making Inroads With the Inbox
Google Postmaster Tools can be a great resource for validating your domain with a email provider that has over 1.5 billion users. While the email provider market is highly fragmented, Gmail users represent one of the large pieces of the pie. You can register your site to help Google direct your emails to the right place.
In addition to this tool, Google also suggests a helpful tip for staying out the SPAM folder in general:
Use Separate Email Addresses for Promotional Content and Transactional or Relationship Content
Because the CAN-SPAM Act distinguishes between emails sent for direct marketing purposes and for updates to a user’s account, have separate email addresses for each helps email providers such as Gmail sort correctly. When you have an email address that exclusively sends promotional content, SPAM filters know to check for CAN-SPAM compliance and, if you have followed the 7 tips described above, you should have no problem making it into the inbox.
What’s more, using separate email addresses builds transparency between you and your customers so they can sort your emails appropriately. This increases the likelihood that they open your emails with curiosity and an intent to purchase rather than a frustration at unnecessary, inapplicable advertising.
Why Email Marketing Will Always Matter
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Christopher Mims extols the praises of email; “Email allows authors to intimately connect with readers, lets brands address their most loyal customers and budding startups develop armies of influencers.” When you land in an email in the inbox, you earn a one-on-one conversation with the people who make your business possible. If you make the content of your email conversational and worth their time, it will be a great channel for generating growth.
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