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Avoiding people’s spam boxes is an art, not a science. Unfortunately, the way spam filters decide if an email is junk or not changes all the time to keep up with sneaky spammers. However, if you have an idea of what to avoid, your Email campaign will be less likely to end up being filtered as Spam.

There are certain things that these spam filters look for, giving each email a certain ‘spam score’. If an email reaches a certain threshold, it will be marked as spam. Spam filters are constantly refining and adding to the criteria. The criteria used to assess the ‘spamminess’ of your email is different for every spam filtering company, and changing all the time. Some filters concentrate more on the content of the message, looking out for common spammy phrases, while others track the reputation of the sender.

A sender’s score is also affected by recipients’ behaviour – if an excessive number of recipients mark an email as spam, you may as a result start to have problems. If several of your emails are blocked as spam in a row, your email address may be blacklisted by some email providers.
There are things you can do to lessen the chance that your email will end up in your recipients’ spam folders. These include the obvious, like not writing your subject line ALL IN CAPS, to less apparent things like not using using brightly coloured fonts.

Our checklist below lists some of the most common things that put spam filters on alert which you should try to avoid.

Subject line
– Lots of exclamation marks!!!
– Special characters like !*#~£$ especially pound (£) and dollar ($) signs
– Numbers instead of letters (‘text language’) like Gr8
– The word ‘Dear’ (especially ‘Dear friend’)
– The word ‘free’
– The words ‘ipod’ or ‘ipad’
– The word ‘test’
– The words ‘offer’, ‘coupon’ or ‘discount’

Sender name
It’s better to use an email with your own domain name (if you have one) rather than free provider such as Hotmail or Yahoo.

Body of the email
– Excessive***** punctuation!!!!
– A high ratio of HTML to copy
– Large images and not much text (spam filters assume there is text on the image)
– Fonts in bright colours, especially red and green.
– Using lots of different font sizes in the same email

If you are concerned that your emails are getting spammed, you can use this Email Spam Test based on the popular open-source spam filter SpamAssassin to test your emails before sending them.

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