Category Archives: Email marketing

How to avoid the spam filter in eight easy steps

Keeping one step ahead of the spam filter!

 

Avoiding the Spam filter is a tricky subject that comes up regularly with our clients. Unfortunately there isn’t a black and white answer for this as avoiding the Spam folder is not an exact science. Triggers change daily and the rules are different for every individual inbox. What went into your inbox yesterday may get flagged as Spam today. You might get marketing emails directly to your inbox but your recipient may have applied settings so that they never see any marketing content.

So what’s the point in spending time writing and creating beautiful emails to deliver your company’s message if you never know whether it’s going to see the light of day or not?  Fortunately there are several strategies you can use to avoid the Spam folder. Here are eight easy steps to avoid the dreaded Spam filter.

1. Design your email carefully:

The format of an email campaign can affect its deliverability. Make sure you have 80% text and 20% image as an all text email will almost certainly land in Spam, as will an email that is made up of one large image. In addition, responsive template design is becoming increasingly important for businesses. As we move into an age where the adoption of smart phones and tablets is increasing, businesses need to send email which can be dynamically change its format to render appropriately on different devices.

 

Image of user looking at a computer

2. Include a plain text version:

Plain text versions of your email are very important and play a significant role in your email marketing strategy. We recommend that you always include a plain text version when sending HTML emails to not only to keep you out of Spam folders but some recipient’s email clients may not support or render HTML properly. Also some recipients may just prefer to receive text only messages. So a plain text backup of your email is always a good idea as it ensures that all recipients can access the content.

3. Don’t overuse exclamation marks or CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!

There’s no need to SHOUT! Where possible exclamation marks should be avoided all together. Too much focus on urgency can land you in Spam. Instead look at writing copy with better emphasis on your message or use a CTA button if you want something to stand out more. Much like with exclamation marks, writing in all caps to create emphasis will get your emails flagged as Spam. Well written content and subject lines get better open rates, and decrease your chances of landing in the depths of a Spam box.

4. Give your images relevant alt tags:

Every email browser and account is different, so there’s a good chance you’re sending an email to someone who won’t be able to see images when they first open it. How will they know what information your images are providing? Using alt text provides a text alternative in the instance your images aren’t there, which is especially useful if you’re providing a link too. Not hiding information in images boosts your chances of hitting an inbox and contributes to text/image ratio.

Image of spam folder

5. Regularly cleanse your lists:

Good list hygiene helps to look after your domain reputation. If you keep sending to subscribers who have bounced or haven’t opened an email in months, your domain will eventually be recognised as Spammy because people aren’t opening your messages. mmunic mail clients benefit from our auto-cleanse system that automatically unsubscribes hard bounces, recognises when a soft bounce becomes a hard bounce, and has easy-to-use segmentation tools.

To cleanse your data before you begin email marketing you should arrange for email addresses to be validated using a reputable data cleansing company. Check out this list of 14 email validation and data cleansing suppliers.

6. Avoid Spammy words and phrases:

Words such as “free” and “income” are obvious Spam words, but there are others that are not so obvious. For example, did you know putting “Dear” as an email greeting is considered Spammy too? If you’re having trouble getting an email out of Spam it’s worth revising your content for trigger words.

7. Test, test and test again!

When you send  your email to your entire database you are sending  an email to many different email clients and  many different operating systems. These  can all render emails differently and so checking that you are satisfied with how the email looks in your editor may not be enough. You can manually test your emails across several different clients by setting up different test accounts.

However, we recommend that you use an email testing tool which allows you to test every email across countless devices. mmunic mail integrates with Litmus and enables you to preview your email in 70+ environments with one click. It also enables you to scan for potential Spam issues, broken links, images, and more.

8. It’s never a good idea to buy email lists:

Expanding your business takes time and is very hard work so it’s understandable that people are tempted to make shortcuts. Purchasing an email list might seem like an ideal shortcut at the time but can land you in some serious hot water with your email marketing as they can be littered with out-dated email addresses honeypots and spam traps.

In short if you are sending out an email to any recipient they should have given you explicit permission to do so and its great to have a list of 50,000 names – but you need to put this into its right context. If those people aren’t interested in what you have to say, then how much are they really worth to you? Don’t ruin your sending reputation by being repeatedly marked as spam by recipients who don’t know who you are and may not be interested in your business. Remember the golden rule Always target the right users, with the right messaging, at the right time.

Closing thoughts:

Let’s face it, nobody likes to receive unsolicited emails (Spam). Take a look at your Spam folder right now; you’ve probably been bombarded with junk emails offering pharmaceutical products, pyramid schemes and various adult services. Unfortunately for you this means the safety precautions that ESP’s put in place to control Spam, may actually work against your perfectly legitimate and requested email to your subscribers. At best leaving your recipient to have to actively mark your email address as ‘not spam’ or a safe sender, at worst you are completely ignored.

Start by creating good habits within your email marketing by using the above-mentioned eight steps and keeping abreast of Spam trends. mmunic can help you not only stay on the ball all aspects of email marketing but also provide you with a named account manager to be there every step of the way in this constantly changing industry.

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons below.

 

About the author: Lisa Winter is Studio Manager and email marketing specialist at email marketing company mmunic.co.uk. Unlike most email marketing platforms mmunic provides a range of managed service solutions to design, set up and send email campaigns for you. So, if you don’t have the time or expertise to design your own campaigns mmunic can take the strain for you instead.

Image of mmunic.co.uk email marketing

Related posts:

Email validation – 14 email validation solutions to boost conversions

Tips for email marketing – 4 ways to improve your email marketing conversion rate

4 Ways To Improve Your Email Marketing Conversion Rate

Why is email marketing important?

Email has transformed how we do business and it has been recognised as the technology that has had the greatest impact on how we work over the past ten years. Email also is vastly more effective at acquiring new customers than social media – almost 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.

However, on the average contact list around 60% of emails are inactive. This means that less than half of your contacts are probably receiving your communication and have a chance of opening it.

Email also has over 3 times the number of user accounts compared to Facebook and Twitter combined – around 2.9 billion. Here is a link to an awesome infographic on email marketing statistics.

What I find amazing though is how many forms and checkouts don’t use real-time validation to improve data quality at source. This is a false economy as ‘Donald.Duck@outlook.com’ is unlikely to become a valuable long-term prospect.


1. Improve how you gather, manage and clean your email addresses:

Image of Loop11.com email capture form
Source: Loop11.com

Review your sign-up and email capture forms to ensure that if possible you have real-time validation integrated into the process and consider asking new customers to confirm their email address via a welcome email. This will almost certainly reduce the number of sign-ups you get but you have to question the intent of those visitors who try to register with bogus or inactive email addresses.

It is better to start a relationship with a customer on even terms rather than allow people to take advantage of a poorly implemented customer contact form. Otherwise you may also be opening yourself up to potential fraudulent activity that could cost you more than the price of a validation solution.

You should also consider regularly removing customers you have not opened emails and dormant customers of over 3 to 6 months to further improve your contact database.  For more seasonal businesses you might want to extend this to a longer period if you have evidence to support this.  You can view 13 email cleansing and verification solutions  in a separate post.

2. Segment and prioritise your customers to improve targeting and response rates:

 

image of tangerine segments
Source: Freeimages.com

 

Try to consolidate all the data you collect from customers into a database so that you can begin to use it for email marketing. This will allow you to improve the quality of your contact database and segment your customers according to value and needs so that you can begin to target customers with more relevant and timely communications. This should allow you to improve open-rates significantly.  Providers like Segment.com can assist you with this process.

3. Set up transactional & event-based emails:

Image of Chillfactore transactional email
Source: Chillfactore.com

Customers are most engaged when they complete a transaction on your site and so this is an ideal time to contact them with an email. Setting up transactional emails to confirm a customer initiated activity provides a great opportunity to deepen the relationship by including relevant content, such as cross-sell or up-sell messages and/or promotional offers.

image of Airbnb transactional email
Source: Airbnb.com

For customers who register with you or meet other criteria (e.g. abandon basket) it is important to set up automated email cycles to deliver relevant and timely messages to provide revenue generating opportunities. You can use solutions such as GetResponse to create automated transactional and event driven email campaigns.

GetResponse allows you to establish event-based email cycles triggered by actions such as opens and clicks, change in contact preferences, birthday or other important dates, contact sign-up or another email cycle. This means you can set up email cycles that are adjusted for your audience profile and ensure they are received at the optimal moment in your customer’s journey.

4. Mobile optimisation is important:

Image of Blackberry smart phone and other devices
Source: Blackberry.com

 

According to statistics from the US Consumer Device Preference report almost three quarters (66%) of emails in the US are opened on smartphones and tablets. This means email marketing is  especially good at reaching mobile customers and so content needs to be fully optimised for small screens. Most users who view an email on mobile will delete it if the email doesn’t look good on their mobile device.

Don’t assume your customers have perfect eyesight and check your emails on a real phone rather than an emulator. From a consumer’s perspective email marketing has the advantage over SMS texting as sometimes texting can result in a charge to the recipient.

Before embarking on email campaigns it is a good idea to consider all of these strategies as otherwise there is a danger your email campaigns will fail to deliver their expected return on investment. Although it is one of the most effective methods of digital marketing unless you do the necessary preparation work you could be throwing your money down the drain.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons on my site.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked with brands such as Deezer.com, Foxybingo.com, Littlewooods.com and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement  using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback. The objective is to ensure the aim of each webpage is aligned with the organisation’s business goals. This helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.

14 Email Address Verification Solutions To Boost Conversions

Why is email marketing important?

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways of acquiring new customers and reactivating existing customers. However, research suggests that on the average contact list around 60% of emails are inactive.  So less than half of your contacts may be receiving your communication and have a chance of opening it. This can seriously damage the effectiveness of email campaigns.

For this reason it is a false economy if you don’t  invest in real-time solutions to verify email addresses when you first capture them and also regularly conduct data cleansing of your lists to improve the quality of customer contact details.

You may also be interested in my post: 4 ways to improve your email marketing conversion rate. Below you will find 14 leading email cleansing and verification solutions.

Top Email Cleansing & Verification Solutions:

 

1. BriteVerify:  A web-based email verification solution that allows you to either drag and drop your list into a window on the site or import it from your email service provider. The site automatically confirms the total number of records and the cost of validation. Brite-Forms is a real-time , secure form protection and validation solution that eliminates mistakes at the point of data entry and helps prevent form spamming. Integration simply requires a snippet of JavaScript to be added to your webpage.

Image of BriteVerify.com homepage

 

 

2. Data8: A comprehensive suite of data validation, cleansing, supply, and management solutions. This includes software for email validation, plus phone, address, bank and identity validation. Data8’s software offers comprehensive email checking, with flexible licencing options and easy to integrate APIs for websites, CRM systems and shopping cart platforms.

Image of data8.co.uk email validation page

3. Data Improver by Neopost: A purely browser-based service to validate and enhance you data. Aimed at SMEs the service just requires you to upload your contact data file and select the service you require. Neopost estimate that in the UK customer data changes by between 7% to 21% every year and so needs to be regularly cleaned and updated.

Image of Dataimprover homepage

 

4. emailanswers: They provide a rigorous  8 step process which involves; removing duplicates, role emails (e.g. sales@), keywords ( e.g. spam, junk) , compare emails against the bounce file, complainers file, domain/spam traps,  disposable email addresses and validate using proprietary email verification software.

image of emailanswers.com homepage

 

5. Experian: Provides a comprehensive range of email and data validation solutions, helping you capture accurate email addresses from the start or validate email addresses in your database.

 

Image of Experian email verification page

6. Informatica: Instant and accurate email verification and list cleaning. Email Verification Plus Hygiene reduces the chances of an email not being delivered and improves email marketing performance. The service will check if the email address is valid or will it bounce and is there any risk to sender reputation in sending an email to the address.

Image of Informatica email verification

7. Kickbox: Offers email verification, list cleaning and integration of email verification into your application process.  Kickbox verifies email addresses using a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol to check it is a known email address. By checking with the would-be recipient’s email server via SMTP, they establish whether a user for a given email address actually exists.

 

image of doc.kickbox.io homepage

 

 

8. MailboxValidator: A browser-based solution that requires you to upload your list as either a text file or CSV format to verify and clean up your email list. The solution connects to the mail server to check whether the mailbox exits to reduce bounce rate and costs.

Image of mailboxvalidator homepage

9. Matchcode360: Provides a comprehensive and global range of data capture and validation solutions including email, postal addresses, landlines and mobile numbers. It is easy to install and compatible with Salesforce, SAP applications and Microsoft CRM.

Image of matchcodeglobal.com solutions page

10. MelissaData: Provides a full range of web-based data capture, cleansing and management solutions with a global reach. They claim to remove 95% of bad emails in your list and help you avoid blacklists and spam folders. They also correct general formatting and syntax errors to turn undeliverable addresses into deliverable ones.

Melissa Data offers a Free trial for their Global Email Cloud Service which provides real-time email mailbox verification, corrects common typographical errors, and standardizes email addresses as they are entered – which eliminates the need for the ‘Confirm email’ field in sign-up forms and checkout.

 Image of MelissaData.com global email cloud service

 

11. PCAPredict: Delivers a full range of data capture and cleansing services, including email validation, address, mobile and payment validation. The service verifies the domain and that the mailbox really exists and can receive incoming mail.  It also checks the validity of business and personal email addresses, even for free web-mail services such as Hotmail and Gmail.  Batch cleanse offers to process your existing address list to remove bogus and mistyped email addresses.

Image of PCAPredict.com email services

 

12. towerdata: Syntax engine identifies invalid email formats, email correction software corrects misspellings and typos, spam trap suppressions,  proprietary domain database reviews status of every
email domain, mailbox check predicts if emails will bounce,  diagnostic codes categorize reasons why emails are bad, and email delivery metrics monitor how old an email is and when it was last opened.

Image of towerdata email verification

 

13. ValidateEmailAddress.org: Check and verify individual email addresses for Free at ValidateEmailAddress.org or subscribe to their bulk-email address checker at Bulk mail verifier.

 

Image of validateEmailAddress.org homepage

14. Xverify: Real-time email and data verification platform. This includes checking at the server to ensure the username is registered at the domain and using their suppression list. Their suppression list has millions of email addresses that are classified as temporary, high risk or complainers. The service can verify all the major consumer email providers including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail. Also offers address verification for the USA and Canada.

100 free verifications available for new customers. Volume discounts apply depending upon total verifications per month.

Image of Xverify.com homepage

Conclusion:

Email marketing is an important driver of sales and engagement with visitors and prospects. However, unless you spend time and money maintaining and cleaning your data the effectiveness of your campaigns will gradually decline. Don’t let this happen as despite the availability of large contact lists quality is still more important than quantity.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons on my site.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

14 Free & Paid For Address Lookup Solutions To Improve Conversions.

Why Do Address Lookup Solutions Improve Conversion?

Address finders allow customers to lookup and validate address details as they go through a sign-up or checkout process.    This helps to shorten the form and can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete registration or checkout. By allowing your visitors to enter their address more easily, especially on a mobile device, you can often significantly increase your conversion rate. Hotel Chocolat achieved a 19% uplift in each step of their basket funnel following implementation of a smart address finder.

Image of Hotelchocolat.com address lookup in checkout
Source: Hotelchocolat.com

Real-time verification also improves the accuracy of data by correcting typos at source and enhances the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. This will also reduce delivery problems as it improves the quality of your customer database. Additionally, address verification helps to combat fraud by identifying when bogus information is being entered.

Image of Sky TV promotional email
Source: Sky TV

Call centres can also use the same solutions to capture and validate customer details. Shelving retailer Tufferman  significantly reduced both outsourced call centre costs and shopping cart abandonment on its website. Using PCA Predict’s address lookup and validation solution the call centre was able to cut the time it took to take an order by between 30 to 60 seconds, making a huge cost saving and also  improving the customer experience.

When implementing an address finder check it regularly. I recently came across this address finder on the betfair.com desktop site. When I selected the address from the drop down menu it only populated the first input field and the other fields were left empty. This triggered an error message because the Town and Postcode fields were not populated. This made the address finder pointless and probably reduced their conversion rate as it would annoy visitors.

Image of Betfair.com address finder error message
Image source: Betfair.com

14 Address Verification Solutions:

1.  Streetlayer:  – New Solution – An international address data analysis, verification and auto-complete solution. Maintain high quality customer data by analysing, validating and formatting international addresses in real-time.

The solution offers a simple and secure API using an easy to integrate GET URL structure. It offers full address verification, auto-complete with post code filtering, geocode look-up, reverse validation and standard address formatting.

Image of Streetlayer.com homepage

 

2. Address doctor from InformaticaVerifies addresses from
over 240 countries. The Fast Completion service will verify an address as a visitor enters each part of it and will auto-complete with the best match. This is ideal for organisations that need to validate information quickly, such as online retailers.

image of informatica address verification homepage

 

3. AFDSoftware: Offers a UK postcode lookup product and a global address finder solution covering 230 countries. AFDWorldAddress
validates international addresses on desktop, network or internet.

Image of AFD.co.uk homepage

4. CapAdresseA French company that will verify addresses in 192 countries. It offers solutions for entering an address in a single line or multiple fields and uses real-time validation to improve data quality.

image of capadresse.com homepage

5. CraftyClicks: A UK and Global address look-up solution that uses the visitor’s post code in the UK to provide a list of addresses for the user to select from. Also offers a Geocoding API to calculate distance between any two postcodes in the UK. Updated from the Royal Mail PAF database.  The global solution allows visitors to enter either their zip code or street name to provide a list of possible addresses.

Image of Craftyclicks.co.uk homepage

6. Data8: A global provider that offers a comprehensive range of data validation, cleansing, supply, and management solutions. Data8‘s  shopping cart web services includes auto-fill validation, address, phone, and email validation.

For web forms and checkout Data8 has two solutions; PredictiveAddress which uses predictive search technology to auto-complete addresses, and for the UK, PostcodeLookup, which retrieves addresses from the Royal Mail’s Poscode Address File (PAF).  Data8 also integrates with leading shopping cart solutions including Magento, Opencart and Prestashop.

 

Image of Data-8-co.uk validation page

7. Google: A free auto-complete address lookup solution for forms from Google Developers.  You must include the Powered by Google logo when displaying any returns from the lookup tool. If you only require an address and have no other verification needs this
solution is worth checking out as it’s free! However, the solution is not recommended for the UK as Google are unable to use the Royal Mail’s database. 

 Image of Google autocomplete address finder homepage

8.  Matchcode: Provides UK and global postal address, email address, mobile and landline telephone number validation. Covers over 240 countries and includes commercial, names and geo-coding datasets. Software is easy to use, install and integrate across all major platforms and applications.

 Image of Matchcodeglobal.com homepage

9. Melissa Data: Their API parses, standardizes and validates U.S. and international addresses for over 240 countries and territories. The solution puts addresses in the standardised mailing format for each country and supports any UTF8 language. The tool will also add missing components, including post codes, region etc.

The Express Entry solution uses type-ahead search functionality that makes it easy to enter and complete accurate addresses with up to 50% fewer keystrokes. It works on both U.S. and international addresses.

Real-time email inbox verification removes up to 95% of bad emails and ID verification will add missing address, email ad phone information.

 Image of Melissadata.com homepage

10. PCAPredict (Previously PostCodeAnywhere): The Capture+ is a global smart address finder which suggests results as soon as the user begins typing.  Features a single click auto-fill for the whole address form and works in over 240 countries, correctly formatting international addresses.  Other solutions include mobile number validation, email validation, store finder, Geocoding and payment
validation.

 

image of PCApredict.com address lookup and validation homepage

11. Postcoder: Offers solutions for address lookup, auto-complete, validation, geocoding, IP address to location and email validation in over 240 countries.

Image of Postcoder homepage

12. Postcodes4u: A pay-as-you-go UK postcode and address finder service. Over 15 years of being a Royal Mail re-seller and updated from the Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF) of over 28 million addresses.

Image of postcodes4u.co.uk homepage

 

13. SimplyPostCode: A UK address lookup solution that uses the visitor’s post code to provide a list of addresses for the visitor to select from.  Updated daily from the Royal Mail  PAF database.

image of simplypostcode.com homepage

 

14. Smartystreets.com: This is a global address look-up solution which performs look-ups in real-time to fill out missing information and standardise addresses.  It offers an autocomplete service so that it can suggest addresses as the user types. It can also find and verify addresses out of arbitrary text.

Image of Smartystreets.com homepage

Conclusion:

Address finders and verification tools are win-win solutions as you will improve the usability and conversion of your forms. At the same time you will also benefit from better quality customer contact data for your marketing activities. Not to have an address verification and look-up solution is definitely a false economy.

Thank you reading my post. If you found this useful please share with the social media icons on the page.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.