Email marketing adds great value to any digital marketing strategy. That is because it is a fast and relatively cheap way to reach potential and existing customers.
Unfortunately, mistakes to avoid when sending cold emails are not intuitive. For example, a poorly written subject line can put people off from opening your messages in the first place.
This guide tells you how to avoid spam filters and ensure your messages reach their recipients.
There is a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes. Here we go!
1. Learn Which Words Trigger Spam
It is no secret that people have learned to ignore or avoid emails that contain trigger words in their subject line. “Free,” “win,” and “investment” are only some that have become strongly associated with scams.
Here are a few examples to illustrate:
- Win Disneyland Tickets for Your Family
- Free 7-Day Cruise Slots Limited
- No. 1 Investment for High Returns
The promise of too-good-to-be-true fantasies has the effect of driving people away. Everyone knows by now that “free” offers have a hidden cost. Instead, use specific, action-oriented titles in your emails.
While the above titles are appealing and likely to catch the recipient’s interest, there is an equal chance that they will know better than to open them. That is, assuming the subject line makes it past the spam filter.
So, how do you know which words to avoid?
- Test email subject lines on free online tools: These tools point out which words help or hurt your titles. Some might even keep a list of words that you can review. Otherwise, they typically highlight the spam word or signal that one is present in your subject line.
- Open your spam folder and see what is in it: There is no better way to identify triggers than by checking what fails to make it to your inbox. If your email service marked it as spam, you already know you should avoid using them in your subject lines.
- Do a quick Google search and take notes: Spam emails are a nuisance, and people are all too eager to air their grievances. On the other hand, people are just as eager to give advice on how to avoid those emails altogether. Use it to your advantage.
The best way to avoid spam triggers is by writing authentic and personal subject lines. Be specific and to the point; otherwise, you waste people’s time and opportunities to reach your audience.
2. Avoid Disruptive Emailing Tactics
An attractive subject line must look professional. Keep in mind: if it is not something you would write in an email to your boss, it does not belong in a marketing email either. Over-the-top titles discourage clicks, so keep yours simple and clean.
Here is a list of distracting elements to avoid:
- Question marks do not belong in subject lines unless used in a question; even then, use only one. Any more than that is unprofessional and a prime target for spam filters.
- Exclamation points create a false sense of urgency, a common scam and phishing tactic. An authentic email title is preferable over a sensationalized one for this reason.
- Emojis help you save space and increase open rates. However, they should be used sparingly and within context. Be careful not to appear untrustworthy or unprofessional.
- Writing in all upper case is like shouting the email title at your recipient. On the other hand, using mixed cases is like slurring your words.
- Do not add tags to your subject line unless it is necessary. For example, RE: and FWD: should only be used within email threads when replying to customers.
Another disruptive tactic that no one likes is preventing recipients from removing themselves from your mailing list. While you should refrain from encouraging people to drop out, forcing them to receive unwanted emails is a sure way to get filtered as spam.
According to Digital Authority Partners, the best way to get engagement through email is by sending it only to those who have opted in to receive marketing emails.
3. Avoid Using Misleading Email Titles
Trust is a scarce commodity online, and losing it can adversely affect future business prospects. Although shady marketing tactics can help you reap some success, they are short-lived and pass quickly. In other words, using misleading titles is not a sustainable long-term strategy.
Preserve your reputation by avoiding the same mistakes others have made.
Below are things you should do to avoid a misleading subject line.
Make Your Subject Line a Preview
When the recipient receives your email, they should know what to expect based on the subject alone. If you make the person guess, they might hesitate and delete it immediately, thinking it is spam or otherwise.
For example, if ABC Hardware wants to let customers know about an ongoing sale for gardening tools, they should use a title like “ABC Hardware 30% Gardening Sale.” Writing “ABC Hardware has new paint colors” instead is irrelevant and misleading.
Do Not Exaggerate or Dramatize
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. This is especially true of offers people receive, regardless of whether they arrive via text, phone call, or email. Moreover, people today are more aware of fake messages and phishing scams.
If you think having a shock factor is a compelling selling point, consider revisiting your marketing strategy. It hurts your bottom line when people wise up and stop believing your sensationalized headlines. When that happens, you end up back at square one.
So, instead of subjects like ‘Learn Email Marketing in 2 Days,’ write something more honest and realistic like ‘How to Use Email Marketing for Beginners.’
4. Use an Email Subject Line Tester
Coming up with a suitable subject line is much harder than it looks. Even with the many tips above, it may be hard to figure out what makes a good subject line without a lot of trial and error.
Using a subject-line tester is the best way to gain that experience without sending hundreds of emails to random people. These tools help you identify where to make changes and give you suggestions on how to make subject lines more appealing.
The tool can also alert you to words that might cause your email to go straight to spam. Here are the metrics that subject line testers provide:
- Character count
- Word count
- Spam words
- Word choice
To help you get the most out of these tools, here are some pointers:
- Limit your word count so that everything fits on a screen.
- Be specific and personal when writing your subject line.
- Writing in all uppercase is like shouting at a person.
- Avoid negative words and include helpful ones instead.
- Sentence, title and lowercase are preferred formats.
- Avoid excessive use of emojis and punctuation marks.
- Use numbers to make your subject clear and eye-catching.
You should also take the opportunity to do split testing to improve email marketing ROI.
Here is what you need to do:
- Choose a means to gauge the subject line’s effectiveness.
- Prepare modified versions of the same subject line.
- Send the two emails to different groups of people.
- Measure their performance based on your metric.
- Repeat until your subject line achieves the desired results.
5. Offer Real Value for Your Recipients
Besides having an appealing subject, combining email marketing with SEO is another way to encourage interaction with your messages. Do so by incorporating the following:
- Lead magnet: This can be anything valuable you offer customers—for example, a free ebook, discount codes, or coupons. It works because you give back to the customer. They receive something they want or need in exchange for their contact information or patronage.
- Promote your content: Like lead magnets, sending updates or notifications on new and old content is an effective email marketing method. That is because it contributes to awareness and points customers back to your website or online store.
- Call-to-action (CTA): Adding action-oriented CTA buttons to your email helps recipients understand what you want to form them. It works well with the other two as well. For example, ‘Sign up for our seminar’ or ‘Read our marketing essentials post.’
Use the above as an inspiration for your subject line. Whatever value you provide to the recipient should be reflected in your title for maximum effect. After all, if you hide it inside your email, that becomes another barrier to effective marketing.
If you need help incorporating these into your email, refer to the testing tools again. Some words are tricky when it comes to spam filters, so getting some kind of confirmation from reliable sources is also practical.
Effective email marketing is a science, though not an exact one. You face many decisions when assembling the subject line alone, which can get overwhelming quickly.
Following the tips in this guide is an excellent way to learn what to do and slowly hone your skills. Take it step-by-step, and your email marketing strategy is sure to improve.