Dodging the Spam bullet – a guide to more effective Email delivery

Sending email is a practically constant and integral part of our daily activities, but it’s getting harder to ensure that the mail one sends gets to your intended recipient’s Inbox. Stricter and more sophisticated spam filters flag more email than ever as spam. Since email is so essential to business communication, and correct delivery could make the difference between making a client happy or not, or getting information to a prospect in a timely manner or not, it’s essential to follow some simple do’s and don’ts to help ensure successful delivery of your person-to-person emails.

What message formatting should I use and how?

  • Do’s
    • Use a reputable and well-known email client to ensure that the email you send is correctly formatted and communicated. Features like providing HTML and text versions of the message content, correctly constructed and formatted email headers, and adherence to specifications for sending email (SMTP) are fundamental to sending good mail.
    • Make your message’s layout as simple as possible. Avoid complex formatting, overly complex layouts, and multiple images. This recommendation is especially important if you use HTML content programs such as Microsoft Publisher to create your content. These programs create complex HTML and styles and are best avoided.
  • Don’ts
    • If you’re sending HTML email, make sure you don’t have any missing or empty tags, poor formatting, and non-standard conventions which are all spam red flag indicators.
    • Don’t use invisible web-based tracking tools in your emails.
    • Don’t insert active components (such as JavaScript, ActiveX, and plug-ins) in your message. If you need rich media content, link to a media-rich page on your website.

Should I use links?

  • Do’s
    • If you link to other companies’ sites in your message content, ensure that they are reputable sites. If you provide links to sites of dubious reputation in your message content, your email will likely be marked as spam.
  • Don’ts
    • Don’t use links that contain IP addresses – that’s a surefire way to trigger a spam filter. All reputable sites on the Internet use domain names to identify themselves.
    • Avoid using shortened URLs (e.g. links or obfuscated ones) in your message content. Shortened URLs are often used by spammers to mask the destination of the link, and spam filters often flag messages with shortened URLs as spam.

What’s the best choice of words?

  • Do’s
    • Use personalized greetings and salutations. For example, use Hi John or Dear John instead of Hey or To Whom It May Concern. Generic salutations make your content more likely to appear as unsolicited mail to spam filters.
    • Use normal conversational language. Message content that is rigid or follows a consistent limited verbiage can appear like computer-generated (or translated) content, which is often flagged as spam.
  • Don’ts
    • Avoid the following common spam triggers in your subject line:
      • Punctuation (especially exclamation points and question marks)
      • Capitalization of all letters
      • Words such as urgentfree, and guaranteed
      • Spaces between every letter in a word, such as H e l l o
    • Don’t include a disclaimer that your email isn’t spam, and don’t claim compliance with some obscure legal criteria. Good mail does not need to advertise compliance because it is compliant.
    • Avoid using symbols for letters in words. Spellings like str@nge|etters, and g00gle in your emails often classify the emails as spam.
    • Avoid repeated references to topics that are highly recognized in spam. For example, Rolex watches, Viagra, sexual innuendo, drugs, and financial schemes are easily recognizable as topics contained in spam. An email that mentions topics typically considered spam will most likely cause your email to be considered spam, even if the intent of the message is legitimate.

Should I send attachments?

  • It is becoming preferable to avoid attaching files to your messages. Most cloud file sites (such as DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Docs) now offer shareable links to files that you can provide in your email. Because attachments are a common way of distributing viruses (especially for Windows users), filters are becoming increasingly strict about attachments. Blocking zip file attachments is a common example of this.
  • If you have to send attachments, ensure that they are named correctly and that the spelling is correct. Also, chose an attachment name that is simple and specific to the nature of the attachment. Oddly named or strangely spelled attachments are a common way of transporting viruses.


Bonus Tip: Avoiding email delivery issues caused by IP blacklisting

When you connect to the internet your ISP assigns an IP address to you from a pool of IP addresses available for use by your ISP. Completely unknown to you the IP assigned to you may be blacklisted in commonly used anti spam databases because it was previously used by someone who had a virus or did something to result in the IP being blacklisted. Then when you send out an email, even a beautifully formatted and perfectly legitimate one that sticks to all the above guidelines, if the receiving server is using one of these anti-spam databases to block spammers, then your email could easily be flagged as spam and may even be silently discarded without any warning to you or the recipient! This means that you could think that your email is being delivered when in reality it never was, resulting in lost business or disgruntled contacts who think you don’t reply to inquiries or emails, giving the wrong impression. CaribMedia‘s email hosting service has the advantage of ensuring that a blacklisted IP does not jeopardize your email delivery and you can be confident that as long as you’re following the recommended guidelines in this article, that your email will be successfully delivered to the intended recipients.

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