5 Design Tips That Will Lower Your Spam Scores

Reputation is where it's at -- that's what I tell clients. After all, the vast majority of ISP spam filtering engines are fueled by data relating to your sending reputation -- complaints, bounces, and engagement. But even with that, people still often ask about content, which isn't necessarily my area of expertise. So, instead of telling you whether or not it's safe to use the word "free" in a subject line (it is), allow me to link you to this smart article by IBM's Len Shneyder: 5 Design Tips That Will Lower Your Spam Scores.

Whitelisting – A partial solution to Inbox Woes?

Things have become a little more tenuous in the email ecosystem of late. What was once a given, inbox placement is now hard fought.

Way back in the year 2000, blacklists had so many false positives, inadvertently (and sometimes intentionally (vertently?)) blocking email from legitimate senders that the notion of whitelisting sprang up with the creation of Habeas.com.

Inside the Gmail Kimono: A Whole Lotta Nothing?

Gmail yesterday announced and unleashed a new way of doing things. They will finally tell users why stuff is in the spam folder, and there has been a lot of excitement in the sending world that there will finally be some clarity at Gmail as to their bulking policies. All told, there is, and there isn't.

Why did Gmail junk that message?

Gmail now tells you why it decided to junk a particular email message. Looking at my voluminous spam folder, every piece of spam I've received seems to have the reason "Why is this message in Spam? It's similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters." That's not necessarily all that insightful to me personally, but from reading this CNet article, it seems that other reasons are possible.

Send Less Mail, Make More Money

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Representatives from fashion designer Nicole Miller shared that unsub rates have dropped and revenue jumped, all thanks to reducing send frequency, from three emails each week down to one single weekly email.

This shows that that over-saturating your recipient base causes subscriber fatigue; it makes those subscribers less interested in what you're selling.

At its extreme, you can end up reducing a recipient's mail box to a pile of smoking rubble. Last week I tested a signup process for a potential client. One form submission with one checkbox, and 72 hours later, I had received 94 follow up email messages. Not surprisingly, 85% of them went to the Gmail spam folder.

Who invented email?

Not this guy, apparently. Writes Gizmodo: "Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email—he created "EMAIL," an electronic mail system implemented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. It's doubtful he realized it as a little teen, but laying claim to the name of a product that's the generic term for a universal technology gives you acres of weasel room. But creating a type of airplane named AIRPLANE doesn't make you Wilbur Wright."

Interestingly, 1978, the year Mr. Ayyadurai claims to have invented email, was also the year a young Gary Turk sent the first piece of spam.

You Get the Deliverability You Deserve

You might know Neil Schwartzman. In his long and active career in email and anti-abuse, he once-upon-a-time handled compliance issues for Return Path certified senders,  has consulted with other senders looking to comply with Canada's recent anti-spam legislation, and has long been one of the driving forces behind anti-spam advocacy group CAUCE. Now a member of the sender community via his new role as VP of Receiver and Sender Relations for Message Bus, I'm excited to be able to share some blog space to invite him to share what's on his mind. -- Al Iverson

Do I Deserve This? (Part 1)

I was out with a bunch of email geeks for Dim Sum, the weekend after M3AAWG in San Francisco, and after savaging several typical public policy whipping posts, like big pharma, drug research and public medicine, the conversation ended up, inevitably, on email and commercial senders.

My friend Mike Hammer made a stunning comment. Mike works for a very large sender, who has had their difficulties with getting their email to the inbox over the years.

Mike quipped: “We get the deliverability we deserve."

Does Hotmail use the SBL (Spamhaus Block List)?

Yep, Hotmail does indeed use the Spamhaus SBL as part of their spam filtering and blocking system. I received a report yesterday of this specific SMTP error response received: "550 OU-001: Mail rejected by Hotmail for policy reasons. If you are not an email/network admin please contact your Email/Internet Service Provider for help. For more information about this block and to request removal please go to: http://www.spamhaus.org."

Hotmail has posted more information about the different types of blocks a sender can receive over on their Sender Troubleshooting page.