5 Mistakes That Are Killing Your Email Deliverability

70% of emails show at least one spam-related issue that could impact deliverability.

How Do Spam Filters Work?

First, before you learn how to improve your email delivery rates, it’s critical to learn how modern spam filters work. Over the years, spammers have gotten more sophisticated, and so have spam filters. Through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), today’s spam filters get smarter with every email they check. With recent technological advancements, Gmail has been able to block 100 million more spam emails each day than they were before with the help of Google’s open-source machine learning framework TensorFlow.

Learn a bit more about how spam filters work by watching the video below.

Why Are My Emails Not Getting Delivered?

Failing spam filters is one of the biggest reasons your email is not being seen by your prospects. And even many emails that pass the spam filter are still not being opened because users are getting savvy about detecting junk mail. After all, about 14.5 billion spam emails (or roughly 45.3% of all email traffic worldwide) are sent every single day.

Below are five reasons your emails may be getting marked as spam.

1) Your List is Garbage

How old is your list? Have you ever cleaned or pruned your list? Did you build it yourself or acquire emails from another source? Did every single prospect on the list opt-in to receive email from you? Are you send the emails that your list users are expecting?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions or have not thought to even ask the questions yourself, chances are good your list is garbage.

Assuming you are only adding prospects that have opted-in, the single best way to improve your list is to clean it. The transactional and email marketing leaders at SendGrid suggest you should regularly clean your list. Consider implementing a sunset policy to remove old unengaged prospects.

2) Your Subject Line is Misleading

Misleading subject lines are one of the quickest ways to get a prospect to mark your email as spam.

  • Don’t use RE: to imply an ongoing conversation when it’s the first email you’ve sent to a prospect. It’s considered misleading.
  • Don’t write SUBJECT LINES IN ALL CAPS. It’s the equivalent of yelling at someone, and it’s generally found to be found annoying by everyone except the person who wrote it.
  • Don’t go overboard with punctuation. Not everything needs an exclamation mark. And there’s probably no email you’ll ever send that needs multiple exclamation marks!!!
  • Don’t state that something is URGENT when it is not.
  • Don’t make it sound like you know someone when you don’t.

Not only do these tactics feel slimy, but they are often breaking the law. The CAN-SPAM Act specifically prohibits you from sending an email with deceptive subject lines and misleading content.

“It is unlawful for any person to initiate the transmission to a protected computer of a commercial electronic mail message if such person has actual knowledge, or knowledge fairly implied on the basis of objective circumstances, that a subject heading of the message would be likely to mislead a recipient, acting reasonably under the circumstances, about a material fact regarding the contents or subject matter of the message.”

Understandably, writing a good short subject line is hard work. However, it’s best to spend a little extra time to ensure your emails are not going straight to your’ prospect’s junk folder or worse breaking any laws.

To learn more about writing quality subject lines, we recommend reading RE: Misleading Subject Lines By Litmus or Agent Legend’s recent article 9 Tips for Writing the Perfect Email Subject Line.

3) Your Prospects Don’t Know You

Perhaps your prospect signed up for a list somewhere on your website, at an open house, or perhaps they filled out a form on Zillow, but how long ago was that? Did you send them an intro email or a welcome email? When you send a message, is it clear that it’s from you?

In your followup emails, say who you are and let the user know the context of why you are emailing them. Title your email subject line with something that contextually makes sense and is descriptive.

Imagine you filled out a form on Zillow to get more information on a piece of property. You probably had no idea who is actually going to read and reply to your message. Then a few days later you get an email from someone not in your contacts, and the subject line of the email was just “Your property search.”

How compelling was that? Would you click on that email?

Yeah, we wouldn’t click it either.

4) You Used Spam Trigger Words

Avoid the use of spam trigger words. See the following list for a few words that you’ll want to avoid. Better yet, go look at the spam folder in your own inbox. Notice the words used in the subject lines? You don’t want to end up in the spam folder. Do you?

Spam Trigger Words to Avoid Using in Your Emails

#1, $$$, $$, 100%, Act now, Action, Additional income, All natural, All new, Amazed, Avoid, Be amazed, your own boss, Beneficiary, Billing, Billion, Bonus, Boss, Buy, Call free, Cancel, Casino, Certified Cheap, Click here, Clearance, Collect, Congratulations, Credit card, Cures, Deal, Dear friend, Discount, Direct email, Don’t delete, Don’t hesitate, Double your income, Double your cash, Earn, Extra, Expire, Fantastic, Free access, Free money, Free gift, Freedom, Friend, Get it now, Get paid, Great, Hello, Income, Increase sales, Increase traffic, Junk, Limited, Lose, Luxury, Make $, Make money, Medicine, Name, No credit check, No experience, Now, Obligation, Only, Open, Order now, Please, Presently, Problem, Promise, Remove, Request, Risk-free, Sales, Satisfaction, Serious, Spam, Success, Supplies, Take action, Traffic, Trial, Unlimited, Weight, While supplies last, Win, and Winner

Common Spam Trigger Words Seen in Many Agent Legend Campaigns

Affordable, Apply now, Call now, Cash, Compare rates, Debt, Free, Get started, Guarantee, Investment, Lowest price, Instant, Money, Offer, Purchase, Quote, Rates, Refinance, Refund, Save, Score, Terms, and Urgent.

Obviously, this is not a completely exhaustive list, but you should now have a good idea of what is considered a spam trigger word. If you’re using any of these words in your emails, especially the subject lines. Take a few minutes to rewrite them using words that feel more genuine and less likely to trigger an email client to block your email.

5) Your Image to Text Ratio is High

There’s nothing wrong with adding images to your email, but they shouldn’t be the bulk of your message. Generally speaking, you can expect “image emails” go straight to the spam folder. Why is that? Images are often be used to hide malicious code, many users have images turned off in their email clients, and they generally take a long time to download.

Email testing platform Email on Acid says, “the most common guideline you’ll hear is no more than 40% image coverage and a minimum of 60% text. While there are exceptions, this rule will generally keep you out of any deliverability issues.”

Mailchimp takes a more conservative approach and suggests “a ratio of 80 percent text to 20 percent images” in email campaigns.

Test Your Emails

We’re wrapping up this article with one last bit of advice that we can’t emphasize enough. Send a test message. Agent Legend provides the functionality to test each email before you start your campaign. It only takes a few minutes, and we guarantee it will be time well spent.

There are a number of services that allow you to evaluate a test email message for quality,

Litmus (Paid)
Litmus scans your emails against 25+ different tests, identifies issues that might keep you from the inbox, and provides actionable advice for how to fix them. Get the peace of mind that comes with knowing if your brand is likely to reach the inbox.

Email on Acid (Paid)
Accessibility checks, URL validation, Spam testing, and many more tools allowing you to send better emails and improve ROI.

IsNotSpam (Free)
IsNotSpam online spam checker was created to help you test email and newsletter content, and alert if it is likely to trigger spam filters.

Mail Tester (Free)
Simply put Mail Tester is a free tool to “test the spammyness of your emails.”