Digital Marketing

Stay Out Of The Spam Folder: 6 Email Housekeeping How-Tos

Patrick McCarthy

Are your emails for your Shopify or other ecommerce business lean, clean, converting machines?

Shopify experts identify four ways to find out how your email marketing campaign is performing:

  1. Open rate
  2. Click-through rate
  3. Bounce rate
  4. Unsubscribe rate

If you have these data and know how to interpret them to assess how well your email sequences are faring, then you’ve got a head start. If not, read this article: Actionable Email Marketing Insights For Powerful Campaigns to get a clear, sharp picture of where you’re at (but then return to this article).

Every ecommerce owner needs to be aware of two main things when it comes to email campaigns:

  1. How to engage the customer wherever they’re at in the buying cycle.
  2. How to avoid the spam folder (ie. how to improve email deliverability).

Email deliverability is the #1 most important part of your email marketing strategy.  

It’s also the part over which you have the least amount of control (but don’t worry, we’re going to help you reclaim that power).

Of course, awareness is just the first step, then comes the action. Writing an email sequence, whether it’s a welcome series, abandoned cart sequence, or direct sales campaign requires a clearly defined strategy and loads of creativity. 

You have to get into the customer’s mind: 

What subject line will invite their interest enough to click it open? 

What greeting or starting line will sustain their engagement?

What key overall message will satisfy them enough to open the second email when it arrives in their inbox? 

What action do you want them to take and how will you lead them to the bait?

That level of communication requires a good deal of planning and expert copywriting skills, so consider outsourcing your email marketing development. This will prevent you from wasting precious time you could be spending on other areas of business growth and avoid damaging your brand reputation or relationship with customers. 

Getting your brand voice right in your email campaigns can be the difference between the sound of silence and the sound of success (it’s loud and clear!).

6 Strategies For Improving Your Email Deliverability Rate

Once those emails are strategised and written, they’re one step away from ready to go. This part of the process is like doing one last eye-sweep of your bachelor pad before inviting in a guest: Are the clothes in the hamper? Toilet flushed? Illicit magazines stashed out of sight? 

Laying bare all the stuff people don’t want to see (and didn’t ask for) will land you in the spam folder, otherwise known as the automatic rejects folder.

Now the spam mail of yesteryear is obvious – it reads like spam mail. It’s littered with all kinds of false promises, obnoxious memes, colours that don’t belong outside a showgirl’s wardrobe, and other such garbage. 

But modern spam mail is a bit more sophisticated. It’s subtle in its seduction. Some email service providers organise non-personal emails into “social” or “promotions” folders, as well as the original spam folder. While these aren’t obvious spam, they still don’t get to the inbox, which is the target destination necessary to get any kind of attention. 

For the purpose of identifying what sends an email to the spam folder, we’re going to include social and promotional categories under the umbrella of spam. Your email service provider is scanning your text for specific words and if any of them appear in the email body, the email will be flagged as one of those three types and sorted appropriately.

So, let’s get down to what types of words land you in the overarching spam folder and how to avoid them. Follow these rules regularly to keep those emails going to the right place.

Use a spam check tool.

There are plenty of free and paid tools available. A popular free one is Apache SpamAssassin, an open source computer program specifically for email spam filtering. 

However, we always recommend relying on the human eye and doing an in-depth scan for specific spammy words, like the ones in the following list. Some of the examples are obvious and even rookie ecommerce owners probably wouldn’t use them. But some are a bit sly:

Inflated claims & promises:

Eg. 100%, cash bonus, earn money, fast cash, incredible deal, miracle, risk-free, satisfaction guaranteed, promise, etc. 

Unnecessary urgency & pressure:

Eg. get it now, don’t delay, instant, limited time, urgent, winner, you’ve been selected, etc.

Shady, spammy, or unethical sounding:

Eg. congratulations, lose weight, no gimmick, no fees, no interest, social security number, no fees, no catch, dear friend, etc.

Jargon / legalese:

Eg. credit card offers, income, compare rates, deal, discount, compare rates, offer, trial, etc.

Engage your customer.

Whether your email ends up as spam depends on several factors, but your email provider is a big one. For example, Gmail’s algorithm is different from Yahoo’s or Outlook’s. Each one relies on different measures to determine the same thing, and it’s impossible to gather any real insights on what those algorithms are.

That’s why subscriber engagement is so crucial. The more your customers engage with your emails (the higher your open rate), the better chance those email providers will catch on that your stuff is quality content and deliver it to inboxes rather than the spam folder. 

Remove your inactive email subscribers.

Open rates and engagement rates affect your reputation so get rid of those inactive emails. I know it can seem counterintuitive to remove recipients from your list, so consider that they’re just lazy loiterers taking up space and giving you a bad rap. 

Develop a “last chance” email campaign for those subscribers who haven’t engaged with you in the last 60 days (or a timeframe that works for you). If they don’t engage, remove them. 

Don’t lie or mislead your subscribers.

You might be thinking duh. But even ecommerce owners with the best and most honest intentions can get caught in the trap of bending the truth to peak interest. 

Maintain a robust honesty and transparency at all times. You’d rather have subscribers who are truly interested in your brand and product or service offering than a whole bunch of false interest that will fizzle out fast. 

Provide subscribers the double opt-in option.

This option gives subscribers the task of verifying their email. This extra step weeds out the impulsive subscribers from the ones who are truly interested in receiving content from you. That ultimately keeps your bounce rate low and your deliverability rate high. 

Use cold-marketing sparingly & strategically.

We don’t recommend cold emails, but in case your business relies on it to an extent, follow these rules: Make it targeted, personalised, relevant, and one-to-one (not mass).

Until AI Can Do It Right, Give It The Human Touch...

One of the organic methods I’ve developed for identifying spam involves simply paying attention to what types of emails land in my inbox versus my spam (or social / promotions). I analyse the title and the body to get a sense of why certain emails land in spam and others don’t. Then I make a note of my conclusions and apply these “rules” to my email sequences and the work I do with clients. Here are some tips:

What is the sender’s email address? Does it look sketchy

Is the sender requesting any information from me?

What is the greeting? (Example: “dear friend” gets the boot every time).

What’s in the email body? What words are being used?

Are there images, memes, or an unnecessary number of emojis?

If you need assistance with the logistics of ecommerce email marketing, website design, structure, user experience, or anything else related to creating an outstanding online business, give us a call. We're a Shopify marketing agency, and we can help.

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