Email Tips to Avoid False Positives

As an email marketer, you know how important it is to avoid being labeled a spammer. Being tagged as a spammer can be deadly to your business, and that spam status can even get your messages banned.

Knowing what causes false positives and how to avoid them is essential, no matter what the nature of your business or how many messages you send. Whether you maintain a single list and send a single email message a month or keep a whole portfolio of lists for ongoing marketing, you need to understand how false positives can impact your business.

What Are False Positives in Email Marketing
In the world of email marketing, the term false positive is used to describe a legitimate email that gets misdiagnosed and rejected by an anti-spam filter. When a false positive happens, that legitimate email marketing message is filtered out as a suspected spam message.

When Do False Positives Occur?
In order to truly understand false positives, it is important to know how email sending services work. Whenever you send an email message, it goes through a number of filters. These filters are put in place by public email services like Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and Gmail, and they are intended to prevent spam from reaching the user’s inbox.

Private businesses also use email filters to sort out spam messages and prevent them from clogging the company servers. Some of those spam filters are quite aggressive, and that aggressiveness means they can stop legitimate messages as well as spam.

How to Avoid or Reduce False Positives
No matter what the reason, an overactive spam filter can be bad for business. As an email marketer, the last thing you want to do is be labeled as a spammer. Being tagged as a spammer is bad for business. Not only will that tag cost you sales; it could get your site and any future messages banned from popular email sending services.

If you want to avoid these problems, you need to take some proactive steps to avoid, or at least reduce, false positives. These tips can help you avoid the false positives that could hurt your business and stop your marketing in its tracks:

  • Make sure every message contains a clear and easy to use unsubscription option
  • Include a clear and accurate email subject line in all your messages
  • Use Sender Policy Framework (SPF) identification for your domain
  • Never use unnecessary or false email headers
  • Include the full and correct name of the recipient in the To: part of your email message
  • Check your IP address and make sure it is not associated with spammers or blacklisted
  • Focus each email message on a single topic
  • Provide your recipients with content they will find valuable and useful
  • Do not add a disclaimer to your emails stating that your message is not spam. This is a common trick used by spammers
  • Avoid tricks like keyword stuffing and using the same phrase over and over again. These tactics do not work, and they could get you labeled as a spammer
  • Avoid sexual or erotic references in your subject line and contents
  • Use clear and natural language throughout the email message
  • Avoid ALL CAPS in your subject line. Avoid speci@l characters and alterate spellings
  • Include both text and HTML versions of your messages and make sure both versions use the same text. Give recipients the option to view the HTML version on the Internet via an included link
  • Reject advertisements from companies associated with spammers
  • Avoid JavaScripts in your emails and do not rely on HTML generated by Microsoft Word.

Following these tips can help you steer clear of false positives and allow your company to keep its good name and solid reputation. Tracking your open rates can also help you monitor the success of your email marketing campaigns. If you find a sudden decrease in open rates, you might have fallen prey to a slate of false positives. Keeping a close eye on all your email metrics, from bounces to open rates, allows you to monitor your mailings and helps you make the most of every mailing.

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