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Spam, scams and phishing, oh my!

Your email is useless, sitting in the junk folder. So how do you bypass your customers' spam filters - both human and machine?

Maybe they’re taking advantage of the situation, maybe they’re pivoting their businesses as they too are isolating at home, but criminals are hitting our inboxes with a frenzy right now.

If your emails are anything like mine, you’ll find some spam and junk filters are keeping up, but others appear to be on strike, leaving us mere mortals to make online safety and security decisions for ourselves.

As a general rule, people aren’t so good at sorting out the real from the fake. In 2019, Australians lost more than $140M to scams, and we’re on track to thrash that number this year with $36.5M lost in the first quarter alone. But with the sheer number COVID-19 related scams hitting us each day, we’re (hopefully) all playing it a bit safer with our emails and actually following online safety guidelines for a change.

That’s bad news for you.

Why? Because your promotions, your updates, reminders and urgent notifications are more likely to be subject to that “Report Spam” or “Mark as Junk” button. And because as those spam and junk filters become smarter to deal with the phishing flood, more of your emails will never even be seen by your customers.

Your emails are less likely to be read. They’re less likely to convert. They’re less likely to be acted on.

And for many businesses, emails are the primary engagement channel. So if they’re not working, those businesses are going to start doing it tough.

So how do you make sure you get through the filters – both human and machine?

It’s not that hard, really – just a few more things to keep in mind when you’re crafting your message.

Avoiding human spam filters

People are looking at spelling, grammar and a consistent voice and style more than ever so make sure you carefully proofread everything before you hit send. (It’s worth hiring a good proofreader – if you need a hand, hit me up and I’ll connect you with someone awesome.) You’ll also want to avoid using all caps and excessive exclamation marks, but you should always avoid that.

Also, be careful with your “from” email and your link destinations. If you can, avoid “no-reply” emails. I know you’re going to want to track your clicks so destination URLs won’t always show when you hover over links, but do what you can to be clear about where they’re going. Consider adding a plain-text option, writing out the URL and instructions for getting where they need to go in full.

Avoiding AI spam filters

Spam and junk mail filters will look for the same thing people do, but more. While they look primarily at subject lines and preheaders, they’ll have a look at your email body content too. If you find you can’t avoid these phrases, hide them from filters in images and use ALT text, subjects and headlines that capture the essence of your message.

Kill the urgency

An unnecessary sense of urgency is a big tell for spam filters. Avoid terms like:

  • Instant
  • Get yours today
  • Act now
  • Don’t hesitate
  • Limited time

Discount the discount

Money talks – directly to spam filters. Avoid terms like:

  • Free / No cost
  • 50% (or whatever) off / For just $… / Why pay more?
  • Save
  • No hidden costs or charges
  • Big discounts

No special treatment

Be real – they’ve not been selected, just whitelisted, so avoid terms like:

  • You’ve been selected
  • Pre-approved
  • Congratulations
  • Offer
  • Complimentary

Ditch the dull

And be generally less boring by avoiding terms like:

  • Join millions
  • Password
  • Your friend / wife / husband / girlfriend / boyfriend / teen
  • Click here / click below
  • Important information

Beyond the content, there are some techie and other common sense things to keep in mind too, like keeping your sending lists clean and tidy. MailChimp and WebEngage are the experts and both have great posts on this that are worth checking out when you’ve got 20 minutes to spare.

Can I drop by your inbox?

Clever content. Awesome anecdotes. Fabulous finds.

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Hi, I'm Jen.

I’m a copywriter, content strategist, brand lover and customer champion. And I’m awesome.

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Can I drop by your inbox?

Clever content. Awesome anecdotes. Fabulous finds.

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