Email Headers for your Business letters
and how to avoid being considered Spam 


In our current day world, Spam is a fact of life. We get it in our email, we get it in our Land mailbox, things we didn't ask for and most often, don't want. This happens so much that most hosts, and email servers have filters built into them to try and weed out the garbage and serve up only the "good" stuff. There is very good reason for this, as such emails can number in the 100s to the 1000s in a day, so some defense is needful. Which is where Spam filters come in.

However, these tools are not infallible, and in fact, often are becoming far too aggressive about the whole idea, to the point where we see " false positives" meaning legitimate emails that are being nabbed. The subject line of "sorry this got stuck in the Spam box" by way of apology for the delay in our reply and or, never getting the mail at all, are becoming all too common a sight.

We have all seen perfectly good emails, ones we want to read, stuck in the Spam filter, or worse find out its been deleted by it.The Spam filter can easily become the "black hole in cyber space" where emails just drop in and disappear. If an email is refused at the ISP level, it bounces back at you, so at least you know they didn't get the mail, spam filters however, just grab it, and it's gone and you have almost no way to know what happened to it.



Ok the next question is why do they grab legitimate emails ?

To understand that, we need to understand how most email filters work. They work by some very complex rules that can cause them to red flag  your email , the subject line of the email itself for starters. And to a degree, the contents of the body of the email, and how it's addressed. Along with a long list of other triggers, that tell them that "this" email is likely to be Spam and nabs it up accordingly. A quick glance at your own Spam filter, and you will see many commonalties they all tend to share. Knowing these, and avoiding repeating them, is your first obvious defense.

However, spammers also mimic legitimate emails, to the point where it's becoming real hard to tell which is real, and which is garbage in some cases, so your Spam filter can be forgiven a few mistakes.



So your job, when sending emails to your clients, or newsletters is to stay out of the Spam filter, so your reader gets the mail they asked for. Common things to avoid are.

Triggers:

Common triggers are very simple things in most cases, things like believe it or not the subject line, "Hi" .

I can't count the number of emails that this is the subject line ,and have seen that they are almost always pure Spam, and get nailed by the Spam filter nearly every time. So if a friend, innocently uses this for the email subject line, into the Spam box it goes. This is because it's a commonly known and used Spam tactic so anyone using it, will be assumed to be Spam. Here's a few more, and you can easily see some legitimate words here you might use as part of your own email header that could cause it to end up in the Spam box, if enough other aspects are in play.

Free!- 50% off!- Click Here- Call now!- Subscribe- Earn $- Discount!- Eliminate Debt- Double your income- You're a Winner!- Information you requested
Opportunity- Compare- Removes- Collect- Amazing- Credit- Satisfaction Guaranteed - Search Engine Listings

Act Now!- All New- All Natural- Buy Direct - Consolidate Your Debt- Special Promotion- Guarantee, Guaranteed- Great offer- No cost, No fees- Offer
Online marketing- Order Now- Please Read- Don't Delete- Visit our web site- While Supplies last- money back- cards accepted - 100% satisfied

There are of course, many many more.

Other Triggers:

Images and no text- Long list of recipients -Long messages -Attachments- Colored backgrounds- Large fonts
Colored fonts- Messages created with Microsoft FrontPage or other html program- Punctuation in the subject line- Words in ALL CAPS in the subject line
Sales terms -Mis-spelled words -Too many links - Using CC or BC to send to a group.

Are you seeing a trend here ? It is almost impossible to avoid doing some of these, and still do legitimate business, as a great many of these things are needed to do business, heck just to even talk to or share things with friends ... so what is is that makes some emails get through and others don't?

Points: Most Spam filters are very complex, they read not just the subject line, but the body of the text, how it's addressed, what is the content, are there attachments, how many links, what kind of links, are there scripts and so on and on, to a very long list of checks and balances and if it fails too many of these, it fails to be allowed, and in the Spam box it goes.


Ok, how to avoid all this ? A few things to do or avoid doing, or modify how you do them.

A: Do Ask your clients to add you to their address book, or allowed white list senders, sounds simple, but this simple act can, and often does, circumvent even the most aggressive spam filter, as the server has to assume if it's on their list of approved senders, they want it ... so first and foremost ask your clients to be sure you are on their allowed list.

B: Do Personalize all subject lines. Do not use the generic subjects, be positive your reader knows and more importantly the Spam filter can see, that is is legitimate. Most spammers wont put a business name out there, so fight back and use yours. Use it on the subject line, use it in the body, make it clear you are a legitimate business. Do not use things like, Dear Friend, or Dear Webmaster or Dear anything, but a personal name. Again, it's generic and it sends up a large red flag.

C: Do Make sure any links in your email are there for a good reason, and are complete with full http://www. references, no short cuts.

D: Do Be certain that all the mail you send, the party wants. ( If a person keeps getting mail from you they don't expect or don't want from you, they will push the button and call it spam just to get your letter out of their face, so make very sure that all persons you send to .. wants to hear from you ) Use a double opt in system for your newsletter sign up.

This is something of an inconvenience to your customer but a needful evil. A double opt in system means when they sign up for your newsletter, they have to do it twice basically. Once, when they ask for it, and again when they confirm they are the one who did the asking. The idea being, if they have to confirm it, and do so, they really do want what your sending, and are less likely to count your letters as spam.

E: Do Use your legitimate email server to send your business letters.  By that I mean don't send your newsletter or business letters from somewhere like Yahoo or hotmail or any of the "free" email servers. These are so used by spammers, that there are ISP's that will not accept any kind of mail from anything but recognized ISP providers ... period. So use your legitimate email server.

F: Do Use a plain white page background and black text with a medium sized font.
Do not use colored backgrounds, with odd colors for fonts, the odder the color, the more it will cost you in spam points, and too large or too small font sizes, same thing, the more out of the norm it is, the more likely it will be rated as spam.

G: Always put in a subject line:  Lack of a subject line for an email is an almost automatic trip to the spam box

H: Do not use your subjects name, at the front of the subject line. Meaning if you send me a letter, do not start the subject line off with Esta, it will take a merry trip off to the spam box nine times outa ten, and I may never see it.

I: Do not Leave too much white space in the subject line. This means do not write things like     Free      offer      this     week     only.

J:  No shouting. Meaning the subject is all in CAPITAL LETTERS.

K: Do make sure to say your a newsletter. Put in the date, put in the series number if there is one, in short make it plain this is legitimate. Reason being, all spammers avoid doing any of that, as they don't want the letter traceable.

L: Do Use a signature if you have one. Most spammers don't like to name themselves, so fight back and use yours.

M: Do not mention that you follow the Spam laws. Far too many spammers claim this, to the point where saying it now, gets you a trip to the spam box.

N: The same goes for unsubscribe information, again because its been so over used. Spammers use this hoping people will hit the link, only so they can see the email is "live". They do it so much that to say " to unsubscribe click here" is tantamount to a fast track to the spam box.  Better to say removal directions, and have it be a coded link or a non working url. Do not use a mailto: link.

O: Do not send to "undisclosed recipients." now at one time this was a legitimate way to send to a large list, as in your chat group or something, without spreading around everybody's email address to everyone else ...  now it will most likely end up unseen. Better is to list yourself as first recipient, and everyone else as CC or BC, this also assures you that it did go though as you receive a copy yourself. But use CC or BC sparingly, as excessive use, to large groups, and you could end up on some ISP's black list.

P: Avoid too many graphics: As other missives of mine have said that plain text is best for your newsletters, here's yet another reason why. Most spammers use massive amounts of images to convey their message, as they know that email content readers, can not "read" images, so hope to get their sales pitch past the filter. If you, a legitimate sender do the same thing, using images to convey the message,  it can be ... off you go into the Spam box.

Q: Do Check your own Spam filter daily. For several reasons, one, to find and move any legitimate emails to your in box for reading, and add them to you list of "allowed senders". And two, to avoid a back log of junk mail that can become so large, it would take more time than you might want to spend to go though them all, looking for legitimate emails, and you are more likely to just dump them all, rather than take the time. This can happen in a matter of days, so a daily check and clean out of the spam folder is almost a must. Make it part of your daily routine and it should not get up to a size that becomes too cumbersome.

Also, the daily check and glance at the real Spam is something to learn from as well, to note what's the current trend if you will, of spam headers, and what new triggers you might want to avoid.

I am sure you can think of others, but it's become a very complex affair for legitimate mail senders, simply because the spammers are mimicking legitimate mail so well , that it becomes a fine line we walk of getting our mail to the intended viewer, who wants to read it, and staying out of the Spam box. I hope these help you wind your way though the maze most Spam filters have become.

More soon
Esta


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