When sending emails, it's important to know who your audience is and to get a feel for what they're looking to see. Much the same, it's important to understand what constitutes good content, and what practices can be considered as prohibited. This article will provide a brief overview on these topics.
Email marketing is the lynchpin of any content marketing strategy, but an email that ends up in a recipient's spam folder might result in losing a potential lead.
To understand what is considered spam email, it is important to understand the distinctions in emails. There are several types of emails, and spam emails are the direct result of a few types. The email types at play here are bulk emails and unsolicited emails.
Bulk emails are emails that are sent as part of a larger collection of messages. For the most part, bulk emails are fine.
Unsolicited emails are emails the recipient has not granted verifiable permission for. Sending unsolicited emails is somewhat of a gamble, as not every recipient is willing to read or otherwise engage with these emails. Unsolicited emails have a greater chance of being bounced or unsubscribed from.
When an email is both unsolicited and sent in bulk, it is considered spam email. Spam emails are never okay. Again, unsolicited bulk email is spam, and spam is bad, therefore unsolicited bulk email is bad content distribution.
Good Email Content
To produce good content, adhere to these practices:
Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act
Above all else, you must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act requires you to offer an opt-out link to future emails in every email you send. In addition, there are seven other requirements that must be met. These requirements are listed below:
- You cannot use false or misleading header information.
- You are not allowed to use deceptive subject lines.
- If your email is an advertisement, then the email must make it clear that the email is indeed an advertisement.
- You must tell the email recipients where you're located.
- You must present a clear opt-out link in every email message you send.
- You must comply with the recipient's request if they choose to opt-out—and you must do it quickly. Under the law, you have up to 10 days to honor the request.
- You must monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
Make It Simple to Read
Good content starts a conversation with the reader. It draws them in, engages them, and leaves an impression. Emails need a conversational vocabulary and tone. Overly technical content can be too much for the average reader to process, much less care for, and drive away potential leads.
More importantly, when communicating with the reader, you never want to talk at them—or, worse still, talk down to them. Creating content that speaks to a reader is important. Keeping a conversational, inviting tone helps to create that atmosphere. In much the same way, don't come on too strong. Readers can be overwhelmed by a sales pitch. Throwing everything at the reader all at once could, among other things, make them uncomfortable.
Educate Your Audience
Leads come from all walks of life. The majority may not know a single thing about marketing or the industry that you are promoting. As such, keep emails light on industry keywords and buzzwords. When sending content, be sure to provide details about what it is you do, even in passing. Giving out information about your business establishes a sense of identity and promotes trust. Recipients are more likely to open mail from senders they know and trust.
Make It Personal
Personalized marketing is important. Targeting specific interests will engage potential leads. Keep an eye on what page visitors are looking at. Use page visits to match email content. Use form information to collect interests, and send information based on those interests.
When sending emails, it's important to use an email address that matches the name of the person who is sending the email. It’s also a good idea to send an email with the recipient’s name included in the email. You can do this with SharpSpring's mail merge tag feature. More information on mail merge tags can be found here.
Include Images and Text
Don't send image-only emails. These emails will most likely be sent right to the spam folder. Emails should have a low image-to-text ratio—something close to a 20%/80% split. Or, put another way, every email you send should have at least two lines of text for every image that appears in the email.
Images in the email should relate to the email content in some meaningful way. Images that do not can clash with the idea the email is trying to convey and create confusion or otherwise disconnect with a user.
The text in the email should be written in a normal style. Using all caps, excessive punctuation (such as multiple exclamation points), or slang is both unprofessional and can lead to recipients disregarding your email.
Don't Send Large Attachments
Attachments can be a great supplement to an email. However, they should only be a supplement. Large attachments can intimidate potential leads, so send one or two small attachments. However, you should never send an email with just an attachment and no content in the body. Those emails will most likely enter the recipient's spam folder.
SharpSpring allows you to upload several different file types as attachments. SharpSpring supports the following file types:
The safest file types to send are GIF, JPG, PDF, and PNG. While SharpSpring supports their attachment, ZIP files should never be included as attachments in an email.
Prohibited and Scrutinized Content
Even when adhering to best practices for content, there are whole categories of content that are never fine to send. While by no means a complete list, here are some examples of content that are prohibited by SharpSpring:
- Emails that violate CAN-SPAM laws
- Emails that promote anything illegal
- Sexually explicit content
- Multi-level marketing/pyramid schemes
- Payday/predatory loans
- Pharmaceutical content
For more information on prohibited content, refer to the Terms of Service.
There are other things to consider when trying to keep emails out of the spam folder.
Online tools that can check the content in your email and determine if the email has the chance of ending up in the recipient's spam folder are often referred to as spam checkers.
There are two types of spam checkers:
- Spam checkers that require you to submit the email on the spam checker website itself
- Spam checkers that require you to send the email to an actual email address and get a score
Acceptable Email Rates
Spam, bounce, and unsubscribe rates need to be within an acceptable range. Depending on the ISP, anything above the acceptable rate will have consequences.
Acceptable rates are as follows:
- Spam: Your spam rate should not exceed 0.1%.
- Bounce: Your bounce rate should be below 10%.
- Unsubscribe: Your unsubscribe rate should be below 1%.