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Stay Out of the Spam Folder

Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the Spam Folder

Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p1
1 Be Compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act
If you are sending “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial
advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” then you must comply with the
following 7 main requirements (or face penalties up to $16,000):
1. Don’t use false or misleading header information
2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines
3. Identify the message as an advertisement
4. Tell recipients where you’re located
5. Tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you
6. Honor opt-out requests promptly
7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
If your email contains only transactional emails or relationship content, then you are exempt from these
rules; however, you must still not include false or misleading routing information.
to Stay Out of
the Spam Folder
10 Basics to Avoid Being Categorized as Spam
Tips and Tricks
At SendGrid we are very serious about email deliverability. We live and breathe it each day.
Similar to how Google keeps adjusting its search algorithm to provide the best results, we must
also regularly adjust to ensure that our clients’ emails are delivered. Here we offer advice to help
you make sure that your emails reach the inbox. Of course, the very best advice we can offer is
to use SendGrid to do all the heavy lifting for you.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p2
2 Avoid Spam Trigger Words and Phishing Phrases
Any email containing a spam trigger word is more likely to end up in your spam folder.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive list of trigger words to avoid when constructing your emails.
Phishing emails are designed to steal your identity by getting you to click on a fraudulent link. The
most common phishing method is to disguise an email as one from a legitimate service that you
trust, such as your bank or a website you visit. By avoiding gammer mistakes and misspellings and
never asking for personal information you have a better chance of staying out of the spam folder.
Include a Text Version of Your Email if You Are
3 Sending HTML Emails
Most email programs these days support HTML formatted emails, but that doesn’t mean you can
just ignore the plain text version. Sending HTML only emails is a common cause for ending up in the
spam filter.
Making sure to include a text version of your email also covers you in case a recipient cannot view
HTML emails. Considering the number of emails now being opened on mobile devices, including a
text only version is sure to remain a best practice for a long time.
4 Use Permission Marketing Techniques
Permission marketing, a term coined by Seth Godin, defines permission as the privilege to deliver
anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. Permission
marketing maintains that treating people with respect is the best way to gain attention, and that you know
you have real permission when people miss your emails when they stop arriving.
The most difficult part of permission marketing is making a promise and sticking to it. Tell people what
they can expect from your emails and how often to expect them. Once they opt-in, don’t change the rules.
Permission marketing requires patience and humility, but it will pay off in the long run.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p3
5 Use Spam Checkers before Sending Your Emails
Before sending emails out to your entire list, it’s worth the time to utilize a spam checking service.
MailingCheck.com offers a free downloadable tool for Windows that uses SpamAssassin to
check. If you prefer to avoid downloading any software, you can send email to the IsNotSpam.
com service and they will also check a few other items important to email deliverability. Alternatively,
ProgrammersHeaven.com uses a form-based solution to test your emails.
6 Get off All Blacklists
A blacklist is a list of addresses and domains that have been identified as spammers and are blocked
from sending to mail providers. If your email server ends up on a blacklist, it becomes extremely difficult
to reliably deliver email, especially to new people on your list.
To check to see if your email server is on a blacklist, use a free service like Return Path’s SenderScore
or blacklistmonitoring.com. If you find that you are on a blacklist, you will need to follow up with the site
that has added you their blacklist. It can be tedious and time-consuming, but removing yourself from
blacklists is crucial to ensuring your emails are received by the users who expect them.
7 Maintain a Good Text to Image Ratio
It is usually best to not include images at all; however, if you must include images, here are some tips:
• Do not send any image-only emails
• We suggest that for every graphic, include at least two lines of text
• Optimize your images the best you can
• Use well formatted HTML for email
8 Avoid Spam Traps
Spam Traps are email addresses that are flagged by ISPs as being no longer used by a human. Since
no one is using these addresses, the ISPs know that there was no opt-in for any email those addresses
receive.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p4
9 Avoid Large Attachments and Executable Attachment Types
In general, .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf attachments are safe to send, provided you include some content in the
email as well. However, executable attachments such as .exe, .zip, .swf, etc. should be avoided entirely.
Generally, you should not send attachments to people on your list that are not expecting them.
If you need to email a large attachment or an attachment type that usually can be flagged as spam
or trigger virus scanners, we recommend a service such as DropBox.com. If the attachment contains
sensitive data, you may consider using your company’s secure FTP server.
Make Sure Your DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID and Domain Keys
Are Setup Properly 10
You will want to make sure your email server supports these protocols (DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID and
Domain Keys) and that they are properly implemented.
This alphabet soup helps ISPs determine the authenticity of your email from a technical perspective.
For more information on email authentication and how to implement these protocols, please refer to
SendGrid’s Email Deliverability Guide.
Bonus Tip: Use an Email Delivery Service
If this whole process seems daunting and you would rather just focus on your company, we
understand! Providing the best email deliverability is the reason we exist. You can either use our SMTP
service to get started in minutes or you can utilize our REST API for maximum customization.
Design Tips for Optimal Email Deliverability
The challenge of email design is a significant one. Even the best-designed emails may still have trouble
making it to the inbox. Assuming you do earn your way past the spam filters, poor design might inspire
the recipient to delete the message, or worse, label it as spam.
Luckily there are some proven best practices to ensure recipients not only receive but also read and
interact with your messages:
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p5
1. Don’t Rely On Images to Communicate Your Email Value Proposition. Often, email readers tend
to turn images off by default as a security measure. Therefore, focus on the HTML code and use images
sparingly to ensure your emails render properly in the various email readers. You can set up individual email
accounts at the different service providers to send test messages or use an email preview tool to check
how your email renders with images turned off before you deploy. In this way, you can ensure that you have
enough text to entice the subscriber to display images and read your entire email.
2. Use the ALT tag & store images on a web server: Complete the alt tag with a description of
each image so recipients will know what the image is that they are missing before they download. If
the image contains a special offer, make sure the alt tag communicates that. You want the reader to
download your full message and click on the offer. Also, don’t embed your images in the email but
rather store them on your server and link to them in your email. This will prevent broken images or
avoid triggering spam filters that categorize your email as junk.
3. Don’t use CSS. CSS support varies among email clients. Some strip it out entirely. Instead, use
standard HTML despite the flexibility and ease CSS provides. If you must use CSS, link to it rather
than embedding it in the email.
4. Double check your code. Make sure all of your tags are valid and closed. Spammers make
mistakes. You should ensure that your code is a clean as possible to avoid triggering spam filters.
5. Include a browser link to your message. If all else fails, you want to give the recipient an easy
way to access your message. Include a link at the top of your message so they can view your email in
their favorite browser.
Bonus Tip: Always include an unsubscribe option.
Whether you link to a preference center or a direct link to an unsubscribe button, make sure you
make it as easy as one click for a recipient to remove themselves from your list. The alternative for the
subscriber is to report your message as spam. Spam complaints are used by ISPs to determine future
delivery of your messages. If your complaint rate is too high, your messages will go undelivered.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p6
Five Things to Check for your Transactional
Messages
To take full advantage of transactional email, you need to have a strong messaging strategy along
with sound processes and data collection practices that will help ensure your messages are delivered
immediately the inbox.
Here are five final things to check to ensure your transactional emails get delivered:
1. Are your messages reaching the inbox? Transactional emails experience higher open and click
through rates because customers expect and even welcome them. 20% of legitimate email routinely
goes undelivered because ISPs think that email is spam. Therefore, you must continuously monitor
your transactional email streams to identify delivery failures and take preventative action before it
affects your customers.
2. How frequently are these emails being deployed? Transactional emails need to be timely. If a
customer places an order or signs up for an account, they want an instant confirmation of that
action. If you wait too long to communicate with them, your customer will lose confidence in your
brand. Email deliverability becomes essential here. You may have set your systems to deploy instant
notifications, but your emails may still be getting blocked preventing customers from receiving your
messages. Invest in resources to ensure systems are compliant with ISP requirements so you can
meet your customer’s expectations and protect your brand’s reputation. Each ISP has a different set of
requirements so you’ll need a tool to help you out here.
3. Are you designing and coding your emails for optimum deliverability? Image heavy emails and
HTML errors trigger spam filters and provide a poor experience for your customer. Consider the user
when creating your emails. Even transactional ones. Also remember, that your customers are reading
emails on many different platforms. From smartphones to tablets, your customers are on the move.
You have a limited time to get your message across. Make sure you use it wisely.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Out of the SPAM Folder sendgrid.com p7
4. Are you using dedicated IPs for your transactional messages? Each IP has its own sender
reputation which is what ISPs use to make filtering decisions. In order to truly optimize your email
program, isolate your transactional email streams to one or more IPs. This way you can better monitor
and diagnose potential delivery failures by email type. If your “friend request” email messages are
being junked, then it’s easier to take action and solve your problem quickly.
5. Are your mail servers securing? Make sure you don’t have an open relay or open proxy. Follow
industry standard best practices for network and server security. All the best mailing practices don’t
matter if you don’t have control of your environment. If you use a third-party tool or system for this,
you’re probably in good shape, but check with email deliverability experts to make sure.
Deliverability failure is a little known crisis, the dark secret of email. It may already be a big problem for you
and you don’t even know. Make sure you take the time to understand its implications on your business and
get the right tools and expertise in place to properly manage and optimize your email streams.
SendGrid was built by developers for developers. There is no other system
that can do what we do while providing long term value that is focused on your
personal success. Take control of your email and contact SendGrid today at
303-552-0653 or email contact@sendgrid.com

June, 26 2012