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14.2. Spam Filters 101

Updated 11.12.16

Did you know that on average, only about 13 to 18 percent of all emails that land in your Inbox are NOT considered either SPAM or junk?  According to this study, on average 84% of all email messages were either filtered or manually deleted as SPAM in 2013.

It's no wonder we've all gone crazy with our email filtering options.  Your recipients are doing so, too.  Even messages they may really want from you might end up not reaching them because of some security or SPAM settings they've got set up in their email account.

We've received phone calls and emails from customers asking how they can "over-ride" their recipients' SPAM settings because "I know they really want to hear from me."  To be blunt, you can't, and neither can we.  And be glad, because if you could, someone you really don't want to hear from would undoubtedly over-ride YOUR settings, making your SPAM settings or firewalls pointless. 

The best way to get around SPAM filters is to be educated about them (like the old adage, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer").  

In a nutshell, individual recipients can use firewall, security or other software (even through their email program) to set criteria for what goes to the Inbox and what goes to the SPAM or Junk folder.  Perhaps they've had a bad experience with a virus or worm, or maybe they have children and they just don't want any possibility of young ones seeing something offensive.  We can't get around those settings no matter what. 

Then there's the corporate email program.  In these cases SPAM filters basically work off of a list of "don'ts".  For each "don't" contained in an email message, points are assigned.  The number of points assigned depends on the "don't" - some "don'ts" are apparently worse than others. 

Spam filters for both personal and corporate programs include but are not limited to things like:

If a message accumulates too many points, BAM!  Turn out the lights, Irene.  Go directly to the SPAM folder, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  So how many points are you allowed?  Well, the magic number is determined by the person that sets up the receiving email server, and how much or how little filtering they want to do manually.  So every receiving server is different, and the list of "don'ts" is always changing to keep up with technology and market trends (what the spammers are doing).  Yeah.

But before you get too discouraged, know that there are things you can do to design your eMessages for maximum deliverability.  See our Related Pages links below for more information on General eMarketing Tips and What affects my unsubscribe rate.

The great folks at KissMetrics have published this super helpful list:

How to Avoid the Spam Folder in 10 Easy Steps

Once you've designed your email to avoid spam filters, you can send a test email to one of the services below, and they'll send you a report to help you isolate and fix any potential issues that may result in your message landing in the Spam folder rather than the Inbox:

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