We all know it. Spam is a huge problem. According to recent statistics, spam messages account for over 53% of worldwide email traffic. It's no wonder that 1 in 5 emails don't land in subscriber inboxes due to the anti-spam efforts of email service providers. So, how do you stay off the "naughty list" and keep your emails from being blacklisted? Read on my friend!
How Anti-Spam Software Works & How It Affects You
To combat the world's massive email spam problem, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use anti-spam software to identify and filter out potential spam. There are a variety of characteristics analyzed by anti-spam software ranging from sending suspicious email content to having a low sender reputation. When emails sneak through existing filters and found unworthy, email users that use the "mark as spam" action provide ongoing feedback about email context and quality.
IPs that receive a high number of spam complaints are very likely to end up on one or more blacklists. Blacklists are active lists of IPs and domains suspected of sending email spam. Since blacklists are used to weed out spam, landing on a blacklist means email hosts are being told not to accept emails from your email server. Now that's a situation you definitely want to avoid!
Here are a Four tips to keep your emails from getting blacklisted:
1. Only use email lists that you grew organically.
Purchasing email lists is a very good way to get spam complaints which is why most email marketing platforms plaster warnings in their policies and best practices. If you only email those who actually asked to be opted into your list, they're much less likely to flag your emails as spam. That doesn't mean they won't ever unsubscribe, but we have recommendations to avoid that problem as well in our .
2. Don’t create email that encourages people to hit the spam button.
To avoid looking like a spammer, it's best to avoid their habits. If you send poorly designed, badly written, or poorly-segmented emails, you may start getting spam complaints.
There are many email marketing best practices to keep you from getting complaints (check out this Hubspot article), but two obvious ones are not using clever “bait-and-switch” subject lines or known spammy words. You can also greatly reduce your chance of getting marked as spam by strategically personalizing your emails. Tools like HubSpot make this incredibly easy.
3. Don’t send bulk email right out of your mail client.
One very quick way to get blacklisted it to try to send out business quantities of email from a personal address – a classic red flag. Use an email marketing service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or best of all, an all-in-one marketing software like HubSpot that handles email marketing and much more!
These companies register themselves with blacklisting companies and get “pre-approval” for the large amounts of email expected to be sent. Of course, email marketing services have requirements for their users to help them optimize everyone's email deliverability. When you use HubSpot, MailChip, or any other email service you'll still need to maintain a low spam complaint rate. If you don't, your ability to send emails may be suspended until the problem is resolved.
4. Don’t send email from a server used by spammers.
If you're on the same server as a spammer and that server has been blacklisted, you'll also be blacklisted (guilty by association). It's a frustrating place to be and can be painful to clean up, so before purchasing a new domain, use a site like MX Toolbox. MX Toolbox allows you to enter a domain name, IP Address, or Host Name and more than 100 blacklists. This tool and others will also offer solutions for getting removed from blacklists.
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Editor's note: The original version of this post was originally published on 12/22/2015. It has been updated and now includes new content with up-to-date information.