Email is both an important and cost-effective way to reach consumers and market your business. In today’s environment, there is so much unsolicited mail sent out daily that it is crucial to adhere to best practices in order to give your legitimate mail the best chance of being received and, more importantly, read.

Ultimately, you want the reader to engage with your email in order to build a relationship with your company but this is not possible if your emails are deleted the second they land in the inbox.

Adhering to email best practices will reduce the likelihood that your marketing emails will be reported for spam. This is vitally important. Emails being marked as spam could damage your company’s reputation, your domain could be blacklisted, and you could even be suspended by your internet service provider.

You want to stand out from the traditional spam-orientated ‘blanket marketing’ that you probably receive (and ignore) on a daily basis.

When sending an email to a targeted audience, you might assume that once you’ve hit the send button, your email is guaranteed to reach the inbox of everyone on your mailing list. However, poorly constructed emails may not reach a selection of the recipients due to things like subject line, links, attachments and content.

There are some rules regarding subject lines and content that should be followed in order to minimise the risk of this occurring. These rules will help you to avoid your emails being marked as spam either by the recipient directly, or by any active anti-spam software.

Subject line

Subject lines are the first part of an email a recipient will see when opening their inbox. This is the first chance you have to gain their attention.

  • There are certain words that, if used within your subject line, will increase the chances of your email being picked up by a spam filter. These include words such as ‘free’, ‘success’, ‘hello’, ‘call’ and ‘apply online’ among others.
  • Personalise the subject line wherever possible by doing things such as including the recipient’s name or city if this would be relevant to your email content. This can increase your chances of the email being received and read.
  • Keep the subject line short and to a maximum of 50 characters. A longer subject line can increase the chances of the email being marked as unsolicited and placed in a junk/spam folder never to be seen again.
  • Do not re-use subject lines as the recipient is likely to ignore any further emails using a subject line you have used previously. If they ignored the first few emails, they are unlikely to read and act on the umpteenth copy of exactly the same thing.

Email content

Email content includes the text, pictures and attachments you are sending in your mail. It is the main part of an email and contains the subject matter and messages that you are trying to get across to your customer base.

  • Try not to make the text in the email too long. As well as increasing the risk of the email being marked as spam, a longer email may cause your reader to lose interest. If you want to provide them with more detail, add a link to a detailed web page within the email.
  • Do not add long URLs. Long URLs are frequently used when phishing, and as such spam filter software may block your emails if they contain long links.
  • Check any links you include actually work. Broken URLs sent in an email will look unprofessional and could mean any future emails you send are ignored by the recipient.
  • Do not use JavaScript or Flash within your emails. This is very likely to be marked as harmful, and most email clients strip this out of the mail anyway.
  • Using simple HTML within your emails is fine and can be a good way of creating an email to catch the attention of the recipient.
  • When formatting your email try not to use glaring colours and oversized fonts or overuse symbols and external links. You don’t want to appear aggressive or pushy.
  • Avoid sending attachments as .exe or .zip files.

Best practices

Use your company’s domain to send mail and be sure to authenticate your messages by adding an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record. This will help show that the mail is from a verifiable source and legitimate. If your domain name is held with Fasthosts you can do this directly via your Fasthosts control panel. For more information on SPF, visit the support site.