Email marketing is a great way to squeeze extra revenue out of your business, it provides you with the opportunity to follow up with your prospects & increase your conversion rates. To put it into perspective an email list is said to be worth around $1 per subscriber, per month – so an email list containing 1,000 engaged subscribers should be able to generate you a monthly income of $1,000 (if not more!). Pretty amazing stuff right?
However unfortunately email marketing isn’t all plain sailing… There’s one thing all email marketers find themselves battling with, and that’s their deliverability rates.
You see you could have the biggest email list in the world but if all of your messages are going straight to your prospects’ spam folders you’re not going to be making any sales.
Any if you’re not making any sales, you’re not making any money!
So deliverability rates are pretty important – in fact I’d go as far as to say that they’re the lifeblood of your email marketing success. That’s why I’m going to go over one of the biggest ‘killers’ of deliverability rates in this post today, which is…. (drumroll please)
Email Spam Complaints.
An email spam complaint is when one of your subscribers marks an email from you as spam. This is picked up by their mail provider & can drastically affect your future deliverability rates, but on top of that it’s also flagged up by your autoresponder company & if you’re not careful it can result in the closure of your account. Nasty stuff!
Every email marketer gets them, and every email marketer hates them. Whilst you can’t completely eliminate them, there are several methods you can use to drastically reduce them in order to protect your precious deliverability rates & make sure your emails land in the inbox where they belong.
Here’s my list of tips to help you protect yourself from spam complaints, some of which are slightly more ‘ninja’ than others…
1. Make it super easy to unsubscribe.
A spam complaint doesn’t necessarily mean a spam email. Unfortunately the spam button in many email clients is getting all too easy to access, and often many subscribers choose to hit it instead of delete simply because it’s ‘easier’, even though your message may not be spam…
To try and counteract that it’s a good idea to make it super easy for your prospects to unsubscribe should they no longer wish to receive further emails from you. The best way to do it is by adding an unsubscribe link right at the top of your email rather than leaving it at the bottom & forcing them to scroll all the way down.
As opposed to seeing it as ‘losing subscribers’, you should look at it as a means of filtering your list so that it only contains hyper targeted subscribers that are genuinely interested in receiving emails from you.
Don’t get too caught up on subscriber numbers, when it comes to email marketing it’s all about quality, not quantity.
2. Make sure they remember you.
Subscribers are forgetful & if they receive an email from a person they don’t recognise the chances are they’ll mark it as spam. This means that it’s a good idea to keep consistent so that they remember who you are each time you send them an email.
The best (and easiest) ways to do this are…
- Use a unique ‘from’ name. As an example I use “~ Dale ~” in my from field as opposed to just “Dale”… It’s a small change but it stimulates a mental trigger which means subscribers find it easier to recognise me (ohh… it’s the guy with the squiggly things!).
- Introduce yourself in each email. It might sound daft, but regardless of how long a subscriber has been on your list be sure to introduce yourself to them in each email. A subscriber might have been on your list for years but they might not have opened any of your emails in a while. Give them a refresher so that when they do decide to open one they know exactly who it’s came from. Even if it’s just a quick “Hey, Dale here…”.
- Stick with the same format. Most autoresponder companies provide tonnes of fancy templates, but whichever one you pick be sure to stay consistent. Mixing up your email layouts can confuse subscribers, and confused subscribers are more likely to hit that spam button.
3. Send emails regularly, but not TOO regularly.
This is the step that people probably struggle with the most. If you don’t email your subscribers regularly enough then they’ll forget who you are & be more likely to mark you as spam the next time they get an email off you. Similarly though, if you email them too often they’ll get sick of you & mark you as spam for… well, spamming them.
There’s no exact number, it’s different for each industry but generally once or twice a week is about right. You can usually get away with sending a few more emails within the first week or so whilst they’re a “hot” subscriber after freshly checking out your offer, but after that period any more than twice a week is probably pushing it a bit to be honest.
At the end of the day the only real way to find out what works best for you is via trial & error, but it’s also a good idea to outline the frequency of your emails before a user subscribes so that they know what to expect.
If you tell them to expect emails everyday then they probably won’t mind receiving emails everyday, but if you tell them they’ll only receive them once a week & you send them everyday, well you’ll be setting yourself up for some problems.
4. Don’t use misleading subject lines.
Getting high open rates is great, but if you’re misleading subscribers to open your emails then chances are they’ll end up pretty pi**ed when they find out it’s not what they expected…. And guess what they’ll do? Yep, they’ll mark you as spam.
Don’t get me wrong it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time thinking about a tactical subject line to maximise your open rates, but at the same time you have to make sure that it’s completely relevant to the content that the subscriber is going to find inside.
The best thing to do is to read the subject line back to yourself & ask yourself what you personally would expect to find if that email landed in your own inbox… Would you be truly satisfied with the content that you’ve placed inside?
5. Make the most of your follow up sequence.
This is a bit of a ‘ninja’ way of reducing your spam complaints, but it’s pretty effective… In fact I’d say it’s probably one of the most effective ways, especially if you’re planning on sending emails quite regularly to your subscribers.
Basically most autoresponder companies only monitor the spam complaint rate on your broadcasts, and not on your follow up series. This means that you can use your follow up series as a means of weeding out the people that are going to mark your emails as spam, and then only broadcast to the ones remaining on your list.
All you need to do is set up an automated follow up series that sends out regular emails to your new subscribers for about a month or so. Then, set an automation rule up to move those subscribers from that list to another list once they’ve reached the end of the follow up sequence (here’s a guide to doing that in AWeber).
This way if a user wants to unsubscribe or mark your email as spam they can do it whilst they’re going through your follow up series meaning it won’t be flagged up by your autoresponder company. Then you can broadcast to the list of all the subscribers that have finished the follow up sequence & remain confident that chances are they’re not going to mark your email as spam.
In short, don’t broadcast to people that are still in your follow up series. Use the follow up series to warm them up then move them to another list from which you’ll send broadcast emails. The longer they go through the follow up series the less likely they are to mark your broadcasts as spam.
When somebody opts in to your email list they’re basically giving you power to put whatever you want in their inbox – don’t abuse it.
Here’s a quick run down of what you should be doing…
- Tell your subscribers what they should expect to receive & how frequently they should expect to receive it.
- Send emails regularly, but don’t over-do it.
- Keep consistency throughout your emails.
- Provide your subscribers with valuable content.
- Focus on building a long lasting relationship as opposed to making a quick sale.
- Make it super easy for a subscriber to unsubscribe.