Spam filters: avoiding the traps

Mail sent from blacklisted servers is automatically blocked by millions of ISPs that subscribe to SPAM blocking services.

Getting your valuable email campaigns delivered is getting harder thanks to SPAM filters. Not only are ISPs employing SPAM filters that block “unwanted” email campaigns from ever reaching a subscriber, whether the subscriber agrees with the SPAM designation or not, but most e-mail clients come with their own “Junk Mail” filters that can delete your message automatically or route it to the dreaded “Bulk Mail” folder.

So, what can you do to increase your e-mail delivery rate? Here are some tips that can help:

• Avoid graphic-heavy e-mail and NEVER send a message that’s all graphics and no actual text.

• Avoid “Trigger Words” that wake up SPAM filters. SPAM filters are programmed to recognize certain key words that are usually associated with SPAM. You may get by with using one or two if you only use the words once or twice; but if your “SPAM Score” goes about a certain threshold, your message is doomed.

Some examples of current SPAM trigger words and phrases include:Free, Mortgage, Credit Report, Penis, MLM, Money-Back, Cash, Anti-Aging, Amazing, Increase Sales, Order Now, 1-800, SEX, Enlarge. If you need to use these words, or any of the other SPAM triggers, try sending a simple text-based e-mail telling the subscriber that the latest edition of their newsletter, or an important message, is waiting for them at (URL).

Or, use a SPAM checker (a strong SPAM checker is provided to al ActiveTrail users) to test your e-mail before you send it out.

• Check to see if your mail server is “black listed” by the “SPAM Police”. mail sent from blacklisted servers is automatically blocked by millions of ISPs that subscribe to SPAM blocking services. It is unfortunate that your server can be listed even if you’re not a SPAMMER yourself. All it takes is for one bad apple to send SPAM through a shared mail server, like the kind that comes with most hosting accounts, and you’re hosed.

ActiveTrail will do that for you as part of the service.

• Clean your list regularly. Especially if you mail into AOL, Yahoo and HotMail. If you start sending too much mail to non-existent addresses, these big three will block all mail from you automatically.

• Make sure that any HTML email you send out is properly formatted. Such checking tools are offered within the ActiveTrail system. Bad HTML structure can trigger SPAM filters or cause individual e-mail clients to choke on your mail.

• Avoid using ALL CAPS. Use the exclamation point (!) sparingly and NEVER use it in your subject line. Avoid using the $ sign (or your country’s currency sign) in subject headings as well as the body of the e-mail if possible.

• Put a name in the “From” header, not an e-mail address. SPAM filters don’t trust e-mail that doesn’t have a From name.

• Be consistent with your “From” address. Many people are creating “White Lists” of trusted mailers. If you use multiple addresses to contact your readers, you lessen the chance of getting white listed.

While 100% deliverability would never be a realistic expectation, the success rate can be substantially raised by following these best practice principles.