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Techniques for Bypassing a Spam Filter

Jan 19, 2022
If you are using email marketing to advertise your brand, products, and services and engage with your leads and customers, then you will be under the constant pressure of having to think about anti-spam laws, avoiding spam traps, and avoiding using spam trigger words.

In fact, the process of creating targeted emails that avoid common spam filter triggers or being marked as spam by subscribers has become an art. This is because Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have upped their game when it comes to waging war against spammers, which has led to some collateral damage in the form of email marketers whose hearts were in the right place. Only 79% of emails that are sent by genuine email marketers with the best of intentions actually reach subscriber inboxes. All it takes is one small error by an honest email marketer for the message to end up in a spam box, causing damage to email deliverability and sender reputation.

How to Avoid Spam Filter and Spam Traps

To avoid spam filters, it’s important to first understand what spam filters and spam traps are. Spam traps are ISPs’ first line of defense against spammers. They are usually email addresses designed with the specific purpose of identifying and trapping spammers. If your email hits such an address, the ISP will immediately flag you as a spammer, which blocks your IP address and your domain name, causing deliverability rates to drop dramatically. Even if you are removed from the block list, it can take a long time to restore your sender reputation.

Recycled spam traps are another one to watch out for. These are inactive email addresses that are acquired by the ISP after a certain period of inactivity. However, the consequences are not usually as serious if your email sends to one of these addresses. Usually, you will get a notification of the bounce to inform you that the address is dormant. However, the ISP will record it as a spam trap hit if you continue to regularly send emails to addresses that hard bounce.

Spam filters are the second line of defense against spam used by ISPs. These are programs that use various criteria to filter out any unsolicited or unwanted bulk email to prevent it from ever reaching the email inbox. These spam filters are designed to analyze every detail of the emails to make sure that any irrelevant content does not reach the subscriber.

How to Avoid Spam Reporting By Subscribers

You can easily avoid having your subscribers report your email marketing messages as spam with a few techniques. Bear in mind that even if you manage to bypass the spam filter, there is nothing stopping your subscribers from reporting the email as spam if they do not want to hear from you. Some of the main reasons why subscribers report email as spam include:

  1. Irrelevant content
  2. Not being sure who the email is from
  3. Frequent emails
  4. Spam trigger words

Even if you are only emailing subscribers that have signed up to receive marketing emails from you, it’s important to be aware that this does not make you immune from being marked as spam. Along with keeping the frequency rate low, making it clear for subscribers to see who the email is from, and making sure that all email messages are relevant and provide value to the reader, you can also use a double opt-in strategy to confirm that the people you are sending email marketing messages to actually want to hear from you. You can do this by getting subscribers to click on a link to confirm that they are happy to join your mailing list and ask them to add you to their contact list, which will signal to the ISP that the subscriber is happy to receive emails from you, helping you avoid being sent to the spam box.

Avoid Spam Trigger Words

It’s important to pay close attention to the words that you use in both the email subject line and the message body in order to avoid getting sent to the spam box. Sadly, spammers have overused certain words and phrases that are now constantly looked out for by spam filters to determine whether or not a message is spam. And even if you are a reputable and honest email marketer with genuine intentions to provide value to your subscribers, using too many spam trigger words in your emails could mean that you never get past the spam filter.

It’s important to understand what spam trigger words are so that you can avoid them in your marketing messages. Sometimes they may be words or phrases that you might add without a second thought such as ‘buy now’ or ‘free’. Commonly used words and phrases that are actually spam trigger words worth avoiding at all costs include:

  • Call now
  • Best offer
  • Act now
  • Access for free
  • 100% satisfied
  • Congratulations
  • Discount
  • Get it now
  • Fantastic deal
  • Increase sales
  • Click here
  • Make money
  • Order now
  • Please read
  • Lowest price
  • No deposit required
  • Purchase now
  • Sale
  • No credit check
  • Save money
  • Refund
  • Sample
  • Risk-free
  • Offer
  • Order now
  • Monthly payment

Spam trigger words are one of the main things that spam filters are set to search for. While not every email that contains a spam trigger word is going to end up in the spam box due to the other factors that are considered such as the subject line, sender reputation, and whether or not the recipient has added you as a contact, frequent use of spam trigger words, particularly in subject lines, will increase your risk of having at least some of your marketing emails caught by the spam filter.

The Best Techniques for Avoiding Spam Filters

To avoid having your marketing messages caught by the spam filter, never to appear in your subscribers’ inboxes, use the following tips and techniques:

  1. Choose a Reliable ESP: Email service providers gain their reputation based on the reputation of their clients. If an ESP has clients that send out relevant and valuable content, and have highly-scoring IP addresses, their ESP will have a better reputation. Because of this, it’s important to avoid any disreputable ESPs since their IP addresses are more likely to be blocked.
  2. Get a Third-Party Certificate: You may want to consider getting sender accreditation by a third party, which can help to guarantee to ISPs that you are not sending spam. You can find companies that will assess your email practice and provide you with a trusted sender certificate.
  3. Check Blacklists: Targeted emails are more likely to end up in spam folders if your IP address has a bad reputation. And sometimes, this might be through no fault of your own. You can use tools such as Spamhaus to check if your IP address is on a block list and request to have it removed.
  4. Test Your Emails: Before hitting send, it’s important to always test the quality of your emails. You can find tools that mimic spam filters to give you a better idea of your risk of this email getting caught and sent to spam boxes.

Best Email Names to Avoid Spam

To avoid spam filters, it’s important to use a recognizable sender name. Using personalization and striving to send emails from an address that contains your brand name so that recipients recognize you is good practice. This is because in the mass of emails that most people get every day, they need to choose which ones to open. Including a personal name in front of a brand name is a good way to increase your open rate and avoid the spam filter since people tend to prefer to open messages that include a personal name in the ‘from’ box rather than those that are generic and impersonal. Studies have found that around 45% of email users will report a message as spam based only on the information that they see in the ‘from’ field.

Along with this, the ‘from’ field is also something that leading email service providers will pay attention to. Spam filtering technology uses reputation-based techniques to gather information about the source of the message along with other things. To prevent your email from being filtered out, you should avoid frequent changes of ‘from’ field names and using obscure ‘from’ field names.

Email Marketing Best Practices to Avoid Spam

Some best practices to consider when using email marketing include:

  1. Never Buy Email Lists: Purchasing an email list might seem convenient, but it can cause lots of problems. It violates most ISPs’ Terms of Service and violates the privacy of the people whose addresses are on the list since they will not have given permission for you to contact them.
  2. Stay Up to Date: It’s important to be constantly alert to technology changes, upcoming laws and regulations, and anything else that could impact your email marketing.
  3. Clean Email Lists Regularly: It’s important to maintain good email list hygiene to avoid spam filters and spam traps. Remove any risky emails and check your list regularly for typos and spelling mistakes.

ISPs are always working to make it harder for spammers. While this is a good thing, it can make it harder for genuine email marketers to get their message across. Understanding how spam filters and traps work and what you can do to avoid them is key.

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