Keeping Your Emails Out of the Spam Folder

frustrated man on phone
••• Don't get your emails lost to Junk Mail folders. Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

Email marketing, or e-marketing, is a great way to reach prospects. You can send out emails without having all the costs associated with regular direct mail – costs like printing, stuffing envelopes, and postage. The major drawback to e-marketing is that it's much harder to be sure that your email even reaches the recipient than if you're using direct mail or cold calling. With direct mail your prospect will at least glance at the mailing before tossing it.

With e-marketing, the messages can end up snagged by an automated spam filter and never make it to the prospect's inbox. It pays to do a little extra work and make your emails less likely to be flagged as spam.

Keep in mind that the below strategies are intended for legitimate e-marketing only. Sending spam to prospects and/or customers is illegal, unethical and highly damaging to your reputation. Reputable businesses use only opt-in leads for email campaigns and honor unsubscribe requests promptly. Be sure to do the same.

Direct mail marketers spend lavish amounts on graphic design and eye-catching images. But email marketing works best with plain, text-only formatting. At most, add a copy of your company logo at the top or bottom of the email. A lack of images makes the email appear more businesslike and less “sales-y,” which will improve it at first look for both automated filters and the recipient himself.

Also, many email programs don't download images on emails for security reasons. So if you send a graphics-heavy email, your prospects will likely end up with a message full of big blank boxes.

Before sending out an email blast, check the major email blacklists and confirm that your IP addresses are not on any of them.

If they are, put in a request to have them removed ASAP. Many spam filters will automatically block messages that come from suspicious IP addresses regardless of the message's content. There are several free blacklist-checking services such as MX Toolbox – check them regularly if you send out a lot of email blasts.

Spam filters put a lot of emphasis on an email's subject line, so definitely don't use a subject like “BUY BUY BUY!!!” or other such spammy-sounding phrases. In general, avoid using all-caps text, word repetition, and extra exclamation points, as these are major red flags. The best rule of thumb is to look over your message and ask “Does this look like a regular business communication in word choice, punctuation and format?” If the answer is Yes, your content will probably look OK from the spam filter's point of view.

You can greatly simplify the email marketing process by using a service to manage the actual campaign. There are several e-marketing specialists who will help you design an email template, manage your lead lists, handle replies and check your messages for spam-like attributes. Of course, they will also charge you for the service, although most only ask for a modest monthly fee.