Tips for Avoiding Anti-Spam Filters

So now when you know how most of anti-spam systems work, you can start on your HTML newsletter. You really have to “think like a spam filter” when you design your emails. Spam filters read your emails, and look for similarities with known spam. You don’t want to get thrown into the junk folder, right? So, you have to remember some things that you must not do when designing your email.

And the best way to learn what not to do is:

  • Open the junk email folder in your email client.
  • Look through all spam you got.
  • Really read it.
  • Remember how they design things, and how they write their copy.
  • Don’t do what they do.

In particular, here are the common things to avoid:

  • Using bright or crazy colors, styles, and formatting
  • Yelling with lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!
  • Using spammy words, like “mortgage, viagra, cialis, free, etc.”
  • Using calls to action like “Click here!” or “Click here now!” or “Act now!” or “Limited time!” (be especially careful with your unsubscribe link, where you might say something like, “click here to unsubscribe”)
  • If you use a WYSIWYG to code your HTML email, make sure the HTML code is “clean.” WYSIWYGs often add a lot of useless code that’s invisible to the user, but spam filters look at it, and think you’re a sloppy spammer who doesn’t know HTML. Bad HTML code such as missing table tags, content below the closing </HTML> tag, or empty <TITLE></TITLE> tags will get your message deleted or thrown into the junk folder. Note: the empty <TITLE> information is very common if you use WYSIWYGs. They leave that by default, and expect that you go back and fill it in. Don’t forget to go back and give the document a title!
  • Using “abracadabra text” in your message, even if you’re sending a test campaign. Spam filters get suspicious of all that “lorem ipsum” stuff. When sending test campaigns, use content that’s as real as possible.
  • Typing in one paragraph, then copying it and pasting a few times. Spam filters can see all the duplicate content, and they think it’s spam.
  • Using the word “test” in your subject line.
  • Being too creative with your spelling, because the spammers do that all the time (you do get a lots of spam messages with “m0rtg4g3” and “ref1nanc3”, don’t you?).
  • Making an HTML email that’s just a bunch of pretty graphics. You need some text in your message, too. Otherwise, the spam filters will have nothing to read, and will think your message is junk.
  • Sending the HTML email by itself. Always include that plain-text alternative message.


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