Spam, Spam, Glorious Spam!
How to prevent your visitor attraction email communications being marked as spam
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What do all of these email subject lines have in common?
They all use words and phrases that appear in Hubspot’s list of top email subject line trigger words that are most likely to send your email to spam (and no, we don’t mean the tinned kind!)
At the time of writing, it is predicted that almost 30% of emails sent are considered spam and thus not opened. With 4.1 billion email users estimated worldwide, that’s a jaw dropping amount.
At Agility Marketing, we bench mark open rates for emails across our visitor attraction industry client base.
Our average email open rate of 39% sits proudly above the UK average of 16%, but if our teams didn’t take the time to spam proof the communications we send for clients, this would likely reduce.
So, what is spam, and how can your zoo, farm park, theme park or museum ensure your carefully crafted communications are not being caught by junk email filters?
What is Email Spam?
Also referred to as junk mail, email spam can be defined as unsolicited commercial messages that are often sent in bulk to multiple email addresses.
For an email to be marked as spam, a customer’s mail server must deem it unelected, and automatically add it to the customers junk or spam folder.
Just like the Monty Python sketch of the same name (here it is, if you were wondering: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hwqlw) spam is annoying, unavoidable and repetitive.
Surely Spam is not GDPR compliant?
GDPR states that all emails sent commercially must be opted in, and contain an unsubscribe link.
If a marketing email does not contain the option to unsubscribe, is sent to someone who never signed up for it, or does not advertise a service related to one the receiver uses is it violating the GDPR. In turn, it is likely that email filters will mark such emails as spam.
Junk mail has always been outlawed and against the terms of all major email providers, but the GDPR.eu website itself, states that it recognises some businesses will always continue to send spam emails.
So, how do I avoid my visitor attraction emails falling into spam?
Of course, email communications that your visitor attraction sends, such as offers, newsletters and booking confirmations are not spam. They are useful and valuable to your customer who has either subscribed to your list, or been added through legitimate interest.
Here’s some tips to avoid your carefully crafted emails falling foul of the junk email filter.
- Avoid using blacklisted words in subject lines
Email spam filters look at the content within your email, to decide if it is inbox worthy or destined for the spam bin.
Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo are becoming better and better at filtering spam emails. Crawling email subject lines for blacklisted words is one of their first points of call.
As Hubspot suggests, next time you need to write an email subject line, check your ideas against their list, and avoid using trigger words if possible: https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30684/the-ultimate-list-of-email-spam-trigger-words.aspx
- Ensure you follow the 60/40 rule
We all know a picture paints a thousand words, but did you know this isn’t always the case when it comes to email communications?
We’ve heard that some spam filters are alerted to emails containing large images and minimal text. This is because sneaky spam emailers may try to display copy in images, to avoid it being read by the filters.
To overcome this, Sleek Note recommend sticking to the 60/40 rule when it comes to drafting and designing your email. At least 60% should be text and no more than 40% should be images. That way, the filters shouldn’t flag you.
- Don’t send emails to inactive email addresses
Grab your visitor attraction communications team and have a spring clean.
A great place to start is to remove stale email addresses. A stale email address is a user who has not opened your email in the last year.
Not only are inactive email addresses likely pushing up your platform cost (many charge per number of subscribers) and reducing your open and click through rates (no one wants that to happen, least of all when you’ve worked hard to craft engaging content with your on park team and staff.) But if your email account consistently sends emails to inactive email addresses, you may be penalised by spam filters.
- Ensure correct spelling and grammar
Spammers often send emails with deliberate spelling and grammar mistakes.
It helps them to filter out those who are the best targets as if you notice the errors, they don’t want you as a victim- you’re too clever!
Because of this, spam filters look out for poor spelling and grammar as a red flag.
Double and triple check the email communications that your zoo, farm park, theme park or museum send have correct spelling and grammar- not just to ensure it meets your high professional standard, but to stop it being flagged by clever spam filters too.
- Always include a clear opt out link
If a user can’t easily find the option to unsubscribe within your email they may make the more damaging choice to mark your communications as spam.
But who cares if they mark you as spam? They didn’t want to receive it anyway….right?
Wrong. The more people who mark your emails as spam the more likely filters of other users will choose to mark your email as spam.
Once filters have identified you as a spammer its very difficult to repair your reputation.
Are there tools I can use to help?
Yes! You’re in luck.
The top two tools we use at Agility before we send out visitor attraction email communications for clients are Mail Tester and Send Check It.
Send your email to Mail Tester and it will score you out of 10 and give you tips to improve your email to reduce its likeliness to fall into spam. This could be broken links, message errors or a high image to text ratio.
Send Check It
We can recommend running your email subject lines through this checker too, it scores them based on open rate and spam-ness. Go on, give it a whirl. https://sendcheckit.com/email-subject-line-tester
How Agility can help
At Agility marketing we send out over 200 email communications for clients every year.
For help, advice and mentoring to ensure the email communications of your visitor attraction are smart and effective, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
This blog was written by Beth Powell, Senior Project Manager at Agility Marketing, a boutique marketing agency specialising in Digital Marketing for Visitor Attractions.