Spam filters (spam traps) are sometimes ignored and underappreciated tools that work hard to make us happier and more productive. They keep our inboxes clean and go unnoticed. Spam traps, like all things built by humans, are not flawless.
We adore them as subscribers for the same reason we despise them as senders: they are overly protective of their mailbox. And, despite their good intentions, we generally only notice them when they obstruct our email efforts.
It’s upsetting to watch all of our hard work ends up in the spam bin. We’re all hoping that our emails get delivered. You should first grasp what they’re and what they do to get past spam traps.
Create a recognizable sender identity
A sending domain and a sending IP address comprise the sending identity. Overall, it enables mailbox providers to determine the origin of an incoming email. One of the first stages in preventing emails from getting to spam is to establish and maintain a consistent sender identity.
Send emails from a trustworthy IP address
An IP address is a one-of-a-kind collection of digits issued to a sender by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). It is registered in the domain name system and is used to send emails on your behalf.
IP addresses are classified into two types:
- Dedicated IP address. This address is only used by one sender, who is solely responsible for its reputation. This implies that no other marketer or organization will be able to send emails from this IP address. If you send more than 50,000 emails each month, a dedicated IP address is an excellent option.
- Shared IP address. Because such addresses are utilized by numerous senders, the transmit frequency and volume rise, causing the address to be warmed up by default. However, you cannot influence the reputation of the IP address in this instance because it is dependent on the behavior of other senders as well.
You should pick an IP address that is appropriate for your needs and stick to it. To avoid reputation concerns, avoid sending emails from numerous IP addresses.
Spammers try to cheat the system by employing a huge pool of IP addresses and hopping from one to the next if their emails are marked as spam or banned. Spam filters are fully aware of this strategy, which puts senders who often change IP addresses in danger of being banned.
Remember to configure a new IP address. Take it slowly since a new IP address, whether dedicated or shared, is deemed cold because it lacks a reputation score. To establish a favorable reputation on your new IP address and have your emails delivered, you must demonstrate that you are a reputable sender.
Assume you have 60,000 emails to send. If you send such a large quantity of data all at once, the receiving server will almost certainly reject it. However, you may divide your email list into six groups of 10,000 subscribers each. During the first week, send emails to the first group every day.
Add another 10,000 members to your mailing list the next week, and so on. Decrease sending volume to 5,000 messages each day if your bounce rate surpasses 10% and your complaint rate exceeds 0.1 percent.
Send emails from your domain
The section of an email address shown after the @ sign is known as the sending domain. It is a web-registered domain name that allows both receivers and mailbox providers to determine where an email originated.
Mailbox providers use the following factors for assessing domain reputation:
- Spam placement rate — It’s the proportion of emails sent from a domain that was routed to spam owing to IP address or domain reputation concerns
- Inbox placement rate — It’s the percentage of emails sent from a certain domain that were delivered to the inbox
- Complaint rate — the proportion of receivers who marked an email from a specific domain as spam.
- “This is not spam” rate — It’s the proportion of receivers that sent an email from this domain to their spam folder and tagged it as “not spam.”
Because mailbox providers value their users’ input, the complaint rate has a significant impact on a domain’s reputation and overall email delivery.
Some wonderful ideas to help you prevent complaints:
- Sending a timely welcome email. Subscribers should identify your brand and recall signing up for your email list; otherwise, they will certainly complain later.
- Build your mailing list. Always avoid purchasing or renting mailing lists from other parties – knowing the source of the email addresses you receive will allow you to see trends in your spam complaints.
- Sign up for feedback loops from various mailbox providers. Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll receive an email notification if a receiver detects your email as spam, and you will have the opportunity to immediately delete complainers from your list.
- Include a prominent unsubscribe link. To unsubscribe from your emails, your subscribers should not have to go through too many hoops.
In general, your goal should be to keep the complaint rate below 0.1 percent in order to keep emails from going to spam.
Verify email addresses on mailing list
Invalid email addresses on your mailing list might increase your spam placement rate significantly. If you ignore repeated delivery failures and continue to send emails to ineligible recipients, mailbox providers are more likely to ban your sending IP address.
Email validators can assist you in keeping your email list clean. Ideally, you should run your list via such services to determine whether the email addresses on your list are legitimate.
All of the validators work the same way: you upload a list of email addresses from your computer or import your list straight from cloud services such as Evernote or Google Drive. After your list has been thoroughly checked, you’re free to save your report as a CSV or XLS file.
Email validator reports often include the following deliverability statuses:
- Invalid. One of the reasons that will be highlighted in the validation report is that email addresses do not exist.
- Deliverable. This status indicates that the emails of the receivers are genuine.
- Disposable. Users generate the addresses in order for them to be valid for a limited time in order to sign up for promotions. It is recommended to remove these addresses since they lower your open rates and ruin your sender’s reputation.
- Accept all. These email addresses are ineligible for complete validation. Some domains always return a valid status for such email addresses. Typically, these domains are attempting to protect their genuine users by informing the sending mail server that they would accept the message for a certain email address but subsequently rejecting it or sending a bounce message instead.
- Spam traps. These addresses are generated by mailbox providers, filtering businesses, and anti-spam services and are then disseminated around the internet, where they may be analyzed. They are used to detect spammers or senders who obtained their email lists through illicit means. When spam traps emerge on your list, mailbox providers will route your email to the spam folder.
- Unknown. The recipient’s mail server is not responding, as indicated by this status. It may be a transitory state if the destination mail server is too sluggish or does not function properly.
Authenticate your emails with DKIM, SPF, and DMARC
Spam mails accounted for over 55% of worldwide email traffic in September 2019.
Mailbox providers are concerned about their degree of security. Therefore they are addressing the issue by enforcing stricter anti-spam measures. That is why authentication is critical: mailbox providers employ authentication technology to validate a sender’s digital identity.
Mailbox providers might reject the message altogether if the latter fails authentication or subject it to extra screening to determine if it should be sent.
There are three major forms of authentication used in email marketing to verify to mailbox providers that your email is worthy of being sent in the inbox:
- Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a domain validation mechanism that uses a publicly accessible digital signature. The DNS record is used to validate this signature at the receiving end.
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an IP address-based authentication mechanism that compares the sender’s IP address as specified in the domain’s DNS record to a list of IP addresses allowed to send from that domain.
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, & Conformance (DMARC) is a system designed to reduce email spoofing and phishing. It enables a sender to declare that their email has been properly verified by utilizing DKIM and SPF records.
Senders that use all three ways to verify their communications may notice less screening and fewer emails going to spam.
Monitor your sender reputation
Sender reputation is a score – a number between 0 and 100 – that ISPs award to a single sender to reflect the reliability of emails sent by that sender.
It is based on a sending domain and IP address’s reputation, which includes data such as unsubscribes, the number of spam complaints, spam trap hits, bounces, and others. This score has an impact on how mailbox providers route emails to various folders or block them.
The tools listed below might help you maintain your sending reputation.
Try Talos Intelligence
Tallos Intelligence examines your domain or IP address and informs you whether ISPs consider your sender reputation for being Good, Neutral, or Poor:
- Good indicates that there is no threat activity emanating from your IP address or domain.
- A neutral rating indicates that your reputation may use some work.
- Poor means that your emails from this IP are unlikely to reach the recipients’ inboxes.
Try Sender Score
Sender Score is a tool from Return Path that evaluates your sender’s reputation and assigns it a value between 0 and 100. You may obtain a report that includes your sender reputation score, basic data of your IP address, and a detailed graph of your score in relation to your sending volume, as well as facts obtained during the previous month.
Check the blacklists for your sending IP and domain
Email blacklists are databases of IP addresses and domains that have been reported and identified as known spam senders. When a transmitting domain or IP address is blacklisted, emails from that domain or IP address are either not sent to users’ inboxes or require extra spam filters.
Senders are identified as spammers by blacklists based on user input or if they send emails to dormant email addresses that may have been converted into spam traps.
There are primarily two types of spam traps:
- Recycled traps. These are email accounts that previously belonged to a genuine person but have since been dormant or abandoned. After a year of bouncing from a receiving server, an email address is a candidate for becoming a recycled spam trap.
- Pristine traps. These are domains and email addresses that have never been used to sign up for email subscriptions. They were set up exclusively to catch spammers. When senders buy, rent, or steal email addresses, pristine spam traps typically wind up on mailing lists.
Mailbox providers consider blacklisting when making filtering decisions. Therefore it’s critical to know right away whether you’re banned and where. You may check your blacklist status using the following tools:
The “double opt-in subscriptions ” game
Consider utilizing double opt-in subscriptions to decrease the chance of being placed on a blacklist. You might end up with a tinier list. However you’ll benefit in terms of quality since it will safeguard your mailing list from bots and invalid or nonexistent email addresses produced by human errors and spam traps.
The double opt-in approach requires subscribers to sign up via your subscription form and then receive an email with an URL that they should click to confirm their readiness to receive your communications.
Always obtain authorization before sending emails
When you utilize permission-based email marketing, you only send emails to users who have given their permission to receive them. In practice, these users performed an action they were aware of: they opted onto your mailing list.
When you can send emails:
- At an exhibition, people signed up to receive your emails.
- On your website, users have subscribed to your emails. However, if a user creates an account or purchases something from your online store, you should request permission to send them emails.
When you cannot send emails:
- Email addresses of attendees at exhibits or conferences. Regardless of what the sponsors tell you, this is not a legitimate mailing list.
- The mailing list was purchased or rented from a reputable source.
- You have a list of members of your company, followers, and Facebook admirers that you believe will suffice. This is also not a legitimate mailing list. You may only use it if you have the authorization to send emails to them.
When it is permissible to send emails, but you must be aware of the nuances:
- People have signed up for your emails on your website, but you haven’t emailed them in a long time. There’s a chance they’ve forgotten about you, so start with a request to re-subscribe.
Manage email addresses that bounce
When one email server fails to transmit a message to another, the outcome is generally an automatic email response known as a bounce. Typically, such notifications include a three-digit delivery error code as well as an explanation of the cause for the bounce.
To figure out why an email isn’t reaching its intended recipient, maintain an updated list of delivery error status codes and their meanings on hand.
Bounces are often categorized into two types: gentle bounces and harsh bounces.
Soft bounce error codes start with a 4 and are typically caused by transitory causes:
- technical difficulties at the receiving mail transfer agent’s end;
- The recipient’s mailbox is overflowing;
- a big email format
A 500 series SMTP reply code is generally comes into usage to identify hard bounces. They occur for the following reasons:
- An email address has a syntax problem;
- mailbox domain that does not exist;
- Your content has been detected as spam by a mail transfer agent (MTA), spam filter, or MTA protection software. In this scenario, you must change your email style and content.
The receiving mail server bans the sender when the hard bounce rate reaches 5%.
Boost subscriber engagement
The better your user engagement rate, the more positively mailbox providers will perceive you.
Launch re-engagement efforts on a regular basis for subscribers who haven’t been engaged in a long time. To begin, identify subscribers who may be considered inactive, such as those who have not opened or clicked on your emails in three or six months.
Then, split inactive users between those who have purchased anything from you and those who have not, and send various re-engagement email messages to each category.
Re-engagement programs come in a variety of flavors. For example, you might provide a discount or a selection of the most intriguing material from the previous month.
Cleaning your email list by eliminating individuals who did not respond to your re-engagement efforts can help you battle poor engagement rates and start seeing higher deliverability rates.
Pay attention to your email content
Spam is combated by mailbox providers employing automated filtering technology. Some of them examine every element of your email to determine if it should be tagged as spam or delivered to the inbox of a user. The footer, header, HTML code, subject line, URLs, text-to-image ratio, spam terms, attachments, and other components are all examined.
There are programs that can check your email for potentially dangerous components before you send it. Mail-Tester, for example, evaluates your message for formatting and broken links, analyses your email server, and compares your IP address to common blacklists.
With a score from 0 to 10 — the higher the score, the better — the program also gives data on what is correctly configured and what is missing or incorrect.
Here is a list of Don’ts for effectively passing a spam traps filter:
- Use of abbreviated URLs or link redirections is not permitted. Mailbox providers are on the lookout for these methods, which are frequently used by spammers to conceal legitimate connections.
- Don’t use spam terms in your subject line or email body. There are several lists of spam traps trigger phrases on the internet, with the most popular recently being: blockchain, sale, price, free, and so on.
- You should never use exclamation marks excessively. Exclamation points do not express your excitement; rather, they serve as a red signal for spam filters. Such subject lines are similar to those used in spam emails to defraud recipients.
- Don’t overdo it with the caps lock. When it comes to spam traps, using all capitals in a subject line is a game over. To bring attention to your subject line, experiment with different copywriting formulae, psychological tricks, or emojis.
- Don’t overdo it with pictures. A great practice is to keep the text-to-image ratio around 80/20. Senders with a strong reputation and a large number of interested subscribers may, of course, utilize more pictures. An image-only email, on the other hand, is never pardoned by spam filters.
- Don’t forget to double-check your HTML. Broken HTML might result in a poorly displayed message and complaints.
The bottom line
Use the following checklist to keep emails from getting to spam traps:
- Check that your DKIM, SPF, and DMARC records are appropriately configured.
- Create a consistent sender identity by selecting a suitable IP address and sending domain. Slowly warm up a fresh IP address with a minimal transmit volume. Sending too many emails from an unwarmed-up IP address might easily result in your emails ending up in the spam bin.
- Using dependable technologies, you can keep track of your sender’s reputation.
- Compile a high-quality mailing list. Only send your emails to those who’ve given you permission to do so. Sending emails to inactive users jeopardizes your sender’s reputation.
- Check the blacklists for your transmitting IP and domain. Consider utilizing a double opt-in subscription technique to prevent winding up on one.
- To eliminate incorrect email addresses and unknown people from your database, run your mailing list via email validators.
- To fight poor engagement rates, launch re-engagement email campaigns and provide relevant information.
- Remove harsh bounces and investigate the sources of gentle bounces.
- Pay attention to the content and style of your emails, and eliminate spam-related aspects.
Be a good email sender, pay attention to the causes of low deliverability, and enjoy seeing your email efficiency increase.