How Email Filters Break Down Communication

Email service providesr (ESP) have systems that trigger email filters. Some sort it into categories, and others block what they deem spam.

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Relying on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to send promotional material to current and potential customers is pretty easy if you’re willing to pay the postage.  Send a file to the print house, have your materials printed, and often they will also address each mailpiece and deliver them straight to the post office for you.  Once they are dropped off at USPS, you’re guaranteed that each piece will land in the addressee’s mailbox (except for misdirected items, of course.)  However, you will have very few ways to determine if recipients looked at it or if the pieces went straight to the recycle bin.

How Email Filters Break Down CommunicationEmail, however, doesn’t work like that.  Email campaigns are captivating for marketing professionals because the delivery channel is free, mail happens instantaneously, and there are methods to track its effectiveness.  While you may pay expenses for a marketing agency to create your email campaigns, and there are costs associated with software to send the emails and track the results, it doesn’t cost a penny to use the internet rails to get an email from point A to B.  Because of these benefits, many companies began using creative email address capturing techniques to build mailing lists, such as asking for email addresses on raffle tickets or requiring an email before providing access to a whitepaper.  Yet, some of these methods can lead to inefficient and costly results.

Have you ever been frustrated because you thought you should have gotten an email but can’t find it anywhere?  Perhaps later, you remembered to check your “junk mail” box and found it there.  This happens because your email service provider (ESP) has authentication mechanisms to filter email.  Some sort it into categories for you, while others may block what they deem to be spam entirely.

How do email filters work?

Essentially, ESPs evaluate the quality of the email a business sends based on several factors, including such characteristics as:

  • How consistent are the emailings from the IP address? Large, sporadic drops of emails create red flags.
  • How many emails do you regularly send? ESPs are more critical of IP addresses that send more significant volumes of email.
  • Are emails being sent to fake or closed email addresses? ESPs assess this as poor email address collection practices often used by spammers.
  • What feedback are recipients giving their ESPs about your emails? Generally, if more than .1% of your recipients report your email as spam, the ESP will begin blocking them or filtering them into junk mail.
  • Are your emails coded well? ESPs identify and block emails with malicious code, but they also filter emails with poorly written tags or URL shorteners.
  • Are recipients opening your emails? Achieving engagement is more challenging, as we’ll explain in its own section.

How does engagement impact email filtering?

ESPs seek to provide their clients with easy accessibility to the emails they deem to be the most engaging.  Engagement in email terms generally means “opened.”  The more recipients open your emails, the more likely they will show up in primary email boxes instead of the junk folder.  However, measuring how many people open an email is more complicated than one might think.

In the past, there were two ways to track emails to see if recipients opened them.  The first involved including a bit of coding in the content of the email that would download a cookie when the email was opened.  ESPs have largely blocked those.  The second is to include one or more links that the reader can click.  While it’s still possible to track clicks, only about 1 in 8 people who open an email will click on anything within the content.

If you are sending large volumes of emails that are not being opened, your emails could be subject to filtering and blocking.  Because of this, it is essential to avoid and reduce inactive email recipients from your distribution lists.  There is no one definition of what constitutes “inactive,” and every company will choose its unique criteria.  However, it is recommended to remove recipients who haven’t opened an email from you somewhere between 6 months and two years.  Some regulations like Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and GDPR require companies to stop emailing subscribers after 24 months of inactivity.

If you’re planning to use email as a marketing tool, consult with the experts at Paradux Media Group.

Paradux Media Group will help you make the most of every dollar in your marketing budget.  Our experienced team will help you develop an effective email marketing campaign that aligns with your company strategies and meets your goals.  We’ll help your team navigate managing your email distribution lists effectively and create engaging content to increase the likelihood your communications reach the inbox instead of junk mail.  Contact us today to learn more about joining our flock!

Angela Peacor

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