- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On May 4, 2015
- Email marketing
Spam. It’s been around in one form or another almost as long as the Internet has—longer if you count its direct mail cousin—and no one’s found a perfect way to block all of it.
Of course, your hospital isn’t actively sending spam like all of those Nigerian princes with $25 million they need to get out of the country as soon as possible, but with such a high volume of messages flying around the web at any given moment, sometimes legitimate emails get caught in the net as well. Surely you’ve been asked to check your spam folder when a message didn’t find its way to your inbox before, whether its an important document for work or a cute picture of your spouse’s cousin’s cat.
Fortunately, spam filters are sophisticated enough these days that almost of the messages they flag really are unsolicited. Still, there are steps you can take to safeguard your email marketing efforts and help ensure that your messages end up at their intended destinations, both by avoiding automated filters set up by email or internet service providers and by giving people who don’t want to receive your messages anymore options other than clicking on the spam button.
Never buy lists
This one may seem obvious, but it’s never a bad idea to underscore the importance of building an opt-in email list for your hospital. While buying an email list may not be illegal, it’s frowned upon by all reputable email marketing services, meaning you won’t be able to use Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or any of the other ones you’re familiar with.
Using a non-reputable service isn’t an option either—their deliverability rates will be so bad that your emails will have trouble getting through no matter how much time you spend perfecting them. And the messages that do make it to their destinations will be much more likely to be marked as spam if your recipients didn’t sign up to receive emails from you.
Don’t use caps lock or excessive punctuation
Take a look in your spam folder sometime and you’ll probably see a lot of messages that LOOK LIKE THIS!!! If you do that, you’re basically telling ISPs that your messages are spam, no matter what their contents are, and real people will think the same thing when your messages aren’t flagged. Let your copy do what it’s supposed to do—all that excess noise won’t help it.
Avoid spam keywords
When you’re writing that all-important copy, keep your eyes peeled for spam keywords that could also trigger the spam folder. You’d never use most of the keywords that are likely to get caught, but some of them might be able to sneak in if you’re not careful—including call-to-action verbs like “call” and “sign up.” Using them won’t automatically send all of your messages to spam, but they might be enough when combined with other factors.
Pick a sender name and stick with it
A lot of people think that the subject line is the most important part of each message, but it’s really the “from” name. Fortunately, once you pick a name to send from you don’t have to write a new one every time you send a message. By using the same sender name for every single email, recipients will come to recognize it—saving your messages from a sad, lonely fate in email purgatory.
Ask recipients to add you to their address book
When people sign up for your email list, the hope is that they actually want to receive your messages. It benefits everyone, then, to remind your recipients that adding your “from” address to their address book will ensure delivery of those messages. It’s not 100% fool-proof—just think of the spam messages you get whenever a friend or family member clicks on a phishing link—but this kind of “white list” is another signal to your subscribers’ email providers that they should deliver your messages.
Let people unsubscribe
No email marketer wants to see people unsubscribe from their email list, but it’s still a lot better than them clicking on the spam button. Reputable email providers won’t let you send messages without an unsubscribe link in the header or footer. Make sure it’s easy to find so that when people do look for it, they won’t give up and click on “spam” instead.