Keeping Your Newsletter Out of Spam Folders

June 8, 2016

spam is for ham...not for emails. 

Creating and keeping your newsletter out of spam folders can be a....well...a tricky business!!  Between trying to figure out what to say, HOW to say it to get the most attention, and, most of all, avoiding the Promotions and SPAM minefields...getting your great content in front of your audience can seem next to impossible.

I am SO excited about today’s topic!!!!  Newsletters, for a TON of bloggers, are a bit of an enigma.  I bet more than a few of you just rolled your eyes and said “no shit, Sherlock” at your computer screen.  

SO, today, I’m going to touch on how I use mine AND how I keep my newsletters out of SPAM and Promotion inboxes!!  Ready??  WOOHOO!! Me too!!!

Alright, so...quickly, and super importantly, what is the point of creating a newsletter? have your blog, your Facebook Page or Group...not to mention the Twitters, the Pinterest, the Instagrams...ALL THE THINGS!!

If you can talk to your audience there...why go through the trouble of creating ANOTHER channel of communication?  

First...the tools.

I use ConvertKit to connect with my customers!  I switched over from GetResponse at the beginning of 2016...and HOLY HELL was it worth it!!  I wish I'd done it sooner!!  The simplicity and automation ALONE has increased my sign-ups at a crazy faster than a speeding bullet rate.

"But...I have a bajillion followers on social media!! Why do I need a newsletter client, Terra?" 

First...thank you for spelling my name right. media is NOTORIOUSLY horrible on the conversion front.  In general, only a small percentage of your followers will follow your links.  Speaking from experience, I can tell you RIGHT NOW, that 90% of my customers have come from my newsletter...and those newsletter subscribers came from my blog.  NOT from social media.  

I’m not saying social media doesn’t work!! Of course, it does!  How else would readers find your blog? BUT, the quickest way to gain loyal readers is through your content...not your quick little “Look what I’m doing today!” tweets.

I’ve gone over it on the blog and in videos on the YouTube channel...but creating pillar and evergreen content is THE only way to catch a fan’s attention.  Create content they can’t believe they are getting for free!  Think about social media as the breadcrumbs...not the converting factor. The converting factor is the blog post.  The NEWSLETTER is what they convert TO.  

Your newsletter is a sure thing. Social media can close down in a moments notice...but is ALMOST a sure thing. Short of the apocalypse happening and all technology going to hell in a handbasket...people will always use email as a primary source of communication.

The emailed newsletter is your direct line to your customers.  These are people that have given you their email address BECAUSE they want to hear what you say. They are WAITING for your words of wisdom.

Only problem with email?  PEOPLE AREN'T FREAKING GETTING IT!!! On average...only about 20% of the average email campaign is opened.  The reasons are usually one of 3: 

  • They just don't see it. 
  • It's considered a "promotion" by Gmail. 
  • It's been flagged as SPAM. 

Let's do a little problem solving...shall we?? 


problem #1: They just don't see it. 

Think about your time in your inbox and ask yourself two questions. How many emails, on average, do you open every day? And how many email titles do you read?  

I’m guessing your answers will look something like “1 in 4” and “most of them”.  I know when I’m looking through my inbox, I read PRETTY much every title of every email.  I don’t necessarily FOCUS on the title, but I’ll glance to see if it’s something I want to open.

What can you do about it? 

SO, in answer to your first problem...TITLES.  Tell your readers what problem you are solving in EVERY newsletter title.  Life is full of problems...and your newsletters should be full of solutions. Like I said...make sure, in that short headline, you are telling them the exact problem you are solving for them!

Also, before you even WRITE the email...assess your ROI!  Is the topic you are writing on something that will speak directly to your customer and relate to your niche?  If you are veering off topic, re-assess whether or not writing that newsletter will be a good use of your time.  

Can you relate it to a post on your blog?  A product? A download? If your email topic isn’t something your readers are expecting from you...they may not be interested in your email.

problem #2: Being classified as "promotional" by gmail.

For those of you who aren’t Gmail users...about three years ago, they initiated a “tabs” system in Google Mail.  Gmail used to be just one large “Primary” page.  Everything was put either there or in SPAM.

The new system automatically creates three tabs in your inbox…”Primary”, “Social” and “Promotions”.  Now, when an email is sent, Gmail will automatically GUESS as to which folder the email should be placed in.

While this is GREAT for organizing and cutting down on the hundreds of emails you might get in a a newsletter SENDER, it decreased the chances of your email being seen DRAMATICALLY.

The “social” tab is not the one you need to worry about.  The only stuff that ends up in social is anything labeled “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “Pinterest”, etc.  It’s the “promotions” tab that’s a royal pain in the ass. If Google even gets a WHIFF of a discount, certain images or keywords...into the Promo tab it goes!  And speaking from experience...that’s a tab that doesn’t get checked often.

What can you do about it? 

  • Your Title - Yep!! Back to your title again.  If your title says ANYTHING along the lines of “Sale!”, “Discount!”, “Limited Time”...or even uses an excessive amount of exclamation’s into the promo pile.  This is YET ANOTHER reason why your titles need to be well written and serve a purpose. 
  • Images - Compare a promotional email from...say...Macy’s with an email from one your favorite bloggers.  What differences do you see?  I’m guessing your going to see a 5-6 REALLY large images in the Macy’s email. Not a ton of text.  Perhaps a coupon code. The email from your favorite blogger?  Yeah...a logo at the top and three paragraphs of content.  THIS is what you are going for!  Images tip off Google that you are trying to sell something.  I recommend keeping it to 1-2 images...a logo and PERHAPS an image to break up your text...but really, that’s not necessary.  People are opening your email for the predictably amazing content. (Take a look at the most recent newsletter from Uncork Your Dork to see what I’m talking about!!) ConvertKit, the company I go through for my newsletter creation, has actually made it their MISSION to simplify the newsletter!  The template you start with is simple, with an area for a logo, text and nothing more.  The goal shouldn't be a pretty should be an informative one! 
  • Links - Links are VERY similar to images. Think about it.  The primary purpose of email is to person with another. It’s not to promote...which is what we do.  No shame in it!  BUT, links, again, will tip off Google pretty fast that you are promoting something.  Whether it’s promoting a product or promoting a social media...there is a difference between an email that says “OMG!  You need to check this out!” and “Find out more here, here, here and here.” This second one is the one you are trying to avoid. SO, general rule of thumb, keep your links to 2-3 MAX!!  Your readers can find your social media accounts on your don’t include those.  Include a link back to a specific post or product, one link to ONE primary social media, and one link to anything else that supports your newsletter.  Again..the fewer the links THE BETTER!!!  If you can get away with 2...get away with 2!

"Want to increase your email's open rates and CTRs?? BE PREDICTABLE!! "

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problem #3: Being classified as "promotional" by gmail.

  • Honesty - Don’t subscribe addresses without their knowledge!  Even if the people you are subscribing are your friends and coworkers...let them know you are adding them to the list. Mass unsubscribes are NOT good for the health of your list. 
  • Personalize your email - Most newsletter services now allow you to add in personalizations to, not just the email, but the subject line as well!  An email subject line will look something along the lines of “Hey Cindy!!! Need help with your blog traffic this week?” That “Cindy” part tells the email server that you KNOW this person. PLUS, personalization catches the attention of the reader.  Double win!! Don’t use this every time...but it’s great in the welcome email and occasionally thereafter. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    History- Let’s say...that perhaps a few months ago, you weren’t TOTALLY on the up and up with your email addresses.  Maybe you were just starting out and weren’t aware of best practices!!  Let’s say you may have ended up in “spam prison” more than once.  Chances are...the health of your email list probably ain't that great. NOW, let’s say you’ve started a NEW business...and this time around, you’re doing things the right way! You do NOT want to reuse this list!! I can’t say this enough!!!!!  If you are using a list that has already been flagged numerous matter how well you write now...these will be sent to the spam folders every time.  Just...don’t risk it.  
  • Keep sales to a "PS"  - Look...I KNOW business!! I know that newsletters are a direct line to profit.  BUT...your primary objective here should not be should be amazing content. Every newsletter you send should be a learning experience. SO...selling is ok, but keep the pitch to 1-2 sentences in the PS. Best way to pitch is to make the newsletter a related, AMAZINGLY teachable topic related to the 2 sentence pitch at the bottom.  Any more than that, and you risk being put into SPAM or promotions. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    Use the double opt-in method - You’ve been through the double opt-in method TONS of times!!  It’s the “sign up” and “confirm your address” method. It, literally, takes two steps. You can usually turn this off in email services like MailChimp and GetResponse...but I REALLY recommend NOT doing that.  The double opt-in method ensures that the emails signing up for your newsletters aren’t bots. The more bots, bounces and auto-unsubscribes your list gets, the quicker it will be blacklisted and virtually useless. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    Don't use purchased lists - PLEASE...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!  I’m sorry to tell you that there ARE no shortcuts to list building!!!  Create amazing content. Send badass newsletters.  Just. Don’t. Buy. Lists. I’m telling your right now, they are useless, a waste of money...and remember #5?  Yeah...these lists are FULL of bounces and bots, which will make your email address completely broke. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    Your Welcome Email - Your welcome email is great for a few reasons!! (Take a look at the one I sent you when YOU signed up for Uncork Your Dork!!...I put a copy in the extra downloads area below.) You should be introducing your business, setting expectations, and providing the download that your promised. The one I send to you guys is one of the longest emails I send...primarily because I want to make sure I get all of the “business” stuff out of the way in the beginning!!  I want to make sure you know EXACTLY what you can expect from me on a weekly basis.  And I want to follow through on my promise of whichever download you’ve requested. Doing this decreases the chance that your reader will react with “who is this?,  I didn’t sign up for this.”  and immediately unsubscribe or flag your future emails as spam. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    Be Predictable - Set a day every week to send your email.  Again, if your customer gets to expect you in their inbox, they will be less likely to flag you as spam in future emails. The more you are flagged as spam by your readers, the higher your chance of being blacklisted by email providers. 
  • Rebel Alliance
    Make "Unsubscribing" as easy as possible -  Finally, although it seems counterproductive...make “unsubscribing” as EASY as possible! If someone is on your list who doesn’t want to me...let them easily remove themselves!! Services like GetResponse and MailChimp automatically add areas at the bottom of the emails saying “click this button to unsubscribe”.  If you are using a service that requires your readers to unsubscribe, go to a different screen to say why, confirm the unsubscription in their email, are doing yourself a disservice.  One time.  Make it easy. PS...NOT having the ability to unsubscribe from your email list IN the email is actually illegal!! Check out the CAN-SPAM act of 2003.

Thank you so much!! 

I hope you loved that information as much as I loved writing it for you!!  I’m super stoked to see your newsletters take off!! If you are in the membership, be sure you head over to the community to participate in the conversation and ask any questions you might have!!  

    • WOOHOO!!! These tips should definitely get you started down the right path!! Remember, healthy newsletters generally have around a 20% open rate…so don’t expect huge numbers!!! 😀 Have fun with it!

    • That’s a huge plus Wendy!!!! 😀 In all honesty, it you know the rules and just write your newsletters on the up and up…your probably good to do. It’s that damned Google Promotions box that’s the biggest pain!! No one can escape it’s clutches! lol.

    • I’m so glad you like it Angela!! Let me know if you have any questions and don’t forget to sign up for the video library area!! There are a ton more videos and topics to explore. 🙂

  • Honestly, just:

    Like, I love you. Can I say that? Can we talk dorky stuff? Found you in LYSC and then your pins started showing up all over my feed and it all looked interesting, so here I am.

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