Spam Is Not The End – Email Thursday

TOPICSEmail Marketing


Today’s topic is Spam is Not the End – why landing in the junk folder is not a terminal illness.

In the past, emails that land in the junk folder have been regarded as lost at sea – never to be opened or read. Junk mail was the dreaded death knell that sullied even the most successful of email campaigns.

Many email marketers have dedicated hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in finetuning and polishing email subject lines and body copy to avoid the dreaded fate.

However, the way that email filters qualify emails often involves variables that are slightly beyond the control of email marketers.

Although emails that land in the junk folder is hardly an admirable aspiration, I will discuss some reasons why it’s not the end.

As society becomes more and more accustomed to email and digital media, they are also more aware (and forgiving) of the inherent flaws of the medium and its developers.

Most users are aware that some beneficial emails fall prey to the spam filter and most are willing to explore the junk folder to mine for emails. Most users realize that its their loss if they do not review the contents of the junk folder.

Although emails that land in the junk folder do not receive the same level of attention and scrutiny as emails that arrive in the inbox unfettered, I think that it’d be unfair to assume that people never touch their junk folder.

But don’t take my word for it – in a recent email marketing study, over 16% of consumers surveyed purchased from a message they found in their spam folder.

Granted, the conversion rate for emails that land in the inbox may be significantly higher, marketers can get some degree of utility out of emails that land in the spam folder.

Just like the Steve Austin, we have the technology to rebuild email campaigns. Email service providers worth their salt have the ability to track who opened, clicked, or converted on an email. On the flip side of the coin, these ESP’s also have the ability to track who did not open, click, or convert on an email.

With this technological capability, you can easily segment those who did not act on an email campaign and re-send the email to those individuals.

Some email service providers also have a rematch or remail feature. This is an automated email mechanism that tracks which users opened an email message. The mechanism then has the capability to resend the email to those who did not open. In many email platforms, the sender can designate when the email is resent – be it one day or ten days after a recipient has not opened a particular message.

I would suggest looking into these capabilities. At the very least, you should have the ability to segment out individuals who opened a message and simply send the message to those who didn’t open.

In conclusion, I do not want to downplay the impact of email landing in the junk folder. When emails land in the junk folder, it will adversely your ability to efficiently and effectively communicate with the market. When your emails land in the junk folder consistently, many email services will redflag your email domain and that is not a good thing.

However, I also want to bring up the idea that the junk folder is no longer the Bermuda Triangle that it was once regarded as.

I’d like to highlight four approaches that help you make the most out of an unfavorable situation.

When the email gods give you lemons, make lemonade!!!

Deliverability is a simple concept for face value, but much more complex beneath the surface. As I said before, there are some factors that are beyond the control of email marketers. In some instances, your completely clean email will be flagged by email software simply because it is broadcast from an IP address that is shared by many different email marketers. Work with your agency or ESP to learn more about the factors surrounding deliverability – either on your campaign or set of campaigns.

I’ll take a moment to plug the importance of a quality ESP. If you’re shopping for an email service provider, make sure that you engage with a provider that has informed customer and tech support. A tech support team who is willing to look into your specific email campaigns and attempt to highlight issues will save you a great deal of headache and heartbreak in the months and years to come.

The second approach is subject line. Take extra precautions that your subject line is relevant to your readership. This will likely catch your reader’s eye when they are sifting through the junk folder. If you’re landing in the junk folder – make sure you’re landing in it for the right reasons. Go out in the blaze of unforgettable offers, smart punchlines, and interesting copy!

The third approach is to have an actionable contingency plan. Put cost-effective and reasonable measures in place if emails land in the junk folder. If your email service provider has the capability to send remails, then put that into place prior to your broadcast. But also be cognizant of your readership’s habits. Don’t engage in remail if you think that the recipients will feel as if they are harrassed with too much communication.

And finally… If your email campaign makes a comfortable home in the junk folder, take a look at the tangible factors that contributed to this outcome. Did your message contain a lot of spammy words? Did you have a lower-than-average text-to-image ratio? Carefully think about the different factors involved – the when’s, what’s, why’s, where’s, and how’s.
Use these opportunities to learn and to highlight factors that you can leverage to improve deliverability in the future.
Great email marketers are born out of experience and each email campaign is an opportunity to learn and improve.