Marketing emails can prevail in an age polluted by spam

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There's no feeling like the one in the pit of an email marketer's stomach when someone says, “Your e-mail went to my junk folder,” or worse, “I never got your e-mail.”

Deliverability reigns in the world of e-mail marketing. It has since the beginning, but the rules change often enough that it's always a relevant discussion. How do we stay one step ahead of spammers? The good news is legitimate e-mail already has an advantage: You don't have to play tricks.

Spammers cover their tracks, disguise their real names and e-mail addresses and send content largely in image form so content-based spam filters like Postini and McAfee don't “read” the content and deny them a pass to the inbox.

If you're not a spammer, don't act like one. Here are a few important ways to convey that your e-mail is “legit.”

Identify yourself. Readers should know who you are at first glance. Make sure your “from name, “from address” and e-mail header make it clear that you're you. If you're a legitimate marketer, they're expecting and even want e-mail from you. We've seen a lot of companies get zapped with the spam button because their “cool design” covered up their brand or they didn't include the brand name in the e-mail text.

Use a mix of elements. Use engaging copy and a good mix of text and graphics. Break up your e-mail into a balance of HTML text and images so your subscribers, and their spam filters, get the gist of your message even without seeing the images. Your content will help filters know you're legitimate. Plus, subscribers who may have images turned off can still interact with your e-mail.

Understand the basics. If “SPF,” “sender ID” and “domain keys” are foreign words to you, work with your e-mail service provider to understand and properly implement these practices. All three are important elements of authentication.

The bottom line: Looking suspicious impacts deliverability. Act as legitimate as you are.

David Cacioppo is president and CEO of emfluence. Reach him at david@emfluence.com.

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