You want your emails to be read, and not hidden in the spam folder. Technical reasons explain why and how an email lands in spam, but, let’s keep it brief. John F. Kennedy’s speech writers were charged to write with short words and phrases, with simplicity and clarity the goal. So, we’ll try to follow in their footsteps.
When you read your email, that’s called engagement. Engagement is an analysis performed by your Internet service provider to understand how you access your email. Less concerned with any single email, the metrics focus on frequency and time of use. Just like Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, it’s an understanding of your overall actions.
A behind the scenes interview with Sri Somanch of Gmail’s anti-spam team provided some helpful advice that centers on engagement. We know that Google lives in a world of complex algorithms. For those of us who don’t live in this world, let’s simplify the concept of an algorithm as an instruction that leads to action. When your dog gets up, sits by the door, and paws it three times—you take a sip of coffee, put the bookmark in your book, get up from your comfortable chair, grab the leash, and take her for a walk. One set of actions triggers a response.
In the world of email, it’s about engagement. One piece of email won’t necessarily trigger the algorithm to classify a message as spam. Your engagement drives the algorithm. In other words, the more you decide to open certain types of emails, the more likely they will continue to land in your inbox and not your spam folder. That’s the quiet sound of algorithms at work.
Love and Engagement
Somanch recommends that you write content that people will love. Don’t worry about trying to psych out the spam filter. Focus on what would make your reader want to read what you’ve sent. High value Information is good. Calls to action are good. As you analyze the content that corresponds with a successful open rate, you’ll learn even more.
Tip: One of the biggest turnoffs to engagement is excessive frequency.
There’s a technical side to avoiding the spam folder. It’s called authentication. In essence, you let the ISPs know it’s you—your URL—and not an imposter. This should be standard protocol, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask, to assure it’s being done.
Tips to monitor engagement and maintain your good reputation
- Remove hard bounces. Never attempt to re-send your emails to an address has been returned and is permanently undeliverable, delete these from your list on a regular basis.
- Maintain an active list. Remove inactive subscribers.
- Get re-engaged. Run a re-engagement campaign with a special message. Ask respondents to add you to their contact list.
- Renewal of commitment. Run an annual campaign that asks your readers to renew, if they want to continue to receive your emails. It may narrow down your list, but it will be a good list, and help you to maintain your good reputation.