Naughty or Nice? Is it Ever Okay to Include Classic SPAM Triggers in Email Subject Lines?


BY  LYDIA COLARESI Let's assume you already have a great sender reputation, you have worked hard at keeping subscribers engaged, you...

Let's assume you already have a great sender reputation, you have worked hard at keeping subscribers engaged, your spam complaints are next to nothing, and you have already read this post by Aleksandr Peterson here on the Marketing Cloud blog. What happens when you or someone in your organization wants to try a 'Free Offer' or some other tactic that can be considered a classic spam trigger?
There are usually 2 reactions among Email marketing professionals; absolute horror or a nonchalant shrug. Until about a year ago, I was definitely with the horror group. But the more I talked to some of my shrugging friends, I found that in most cases they had set up initial tests and saw little to no delivery issues-and sometimes much higher engagement or redemption!
The key is to be purposeful. Times have changed and spam filters have too. If you are doing everything else right and use a spam trigger in your subject line, things will most likely work out just fine. By the way, 'Free' was the most popular choice and also the most tested word I found. Everyone loves free shipping, a free entree, or buy one get one (BOGO) free so that is the example I am using.

How to Protect Your Email Reputation

Our audiences and lists are our lifeblood, not something to be toyed with hastily. They propel everything, and there are some instances where I would not recommend engaging in any potentially reckless behavior that could land you on the naughty list. For example, if you are sending from a shared IP address across multiple businesses, you must proceed with caution. Not only do you have less control over the reputation, there can be fluctuations you wouldn't be aware of. Another instance is if you are not messaging your audience regularly, adding in a free offer could potentially lead to deliverability trouble.
Here are 4 things you should absolutely consider to stay out of Gmail Jail:
1. Technology. Ensure your deliverability rate is as good as you think it is. We use premium inbox tools in Email Studio for its convenience, and Return Path offers a free sender score tool.

2. Testing. Your audience might not actually respond better or deliverability might go down.

3. Diversity. This should be just one in an arsenal of tactics you employ in your email marketing program.

4. Combinations. Do not combine with other practices that are known to raise filtering risks such as:
  • Additional known spam triggers
  • Low image to text ratio in your emails
  • Capitalization (especially of the word 'FREE')
  • Overuse of exclamation points and/or question marks
  • Multiple font styles and sizes
  • Attachments
Odds are if you are mindful of how, when and where to apply what are typically considered to be 'spam triggers' you'll be in a great position to send out those 'free' goodies in your emails. So for now may all of your emails be delivered merry and bright, and to digital marketers a good night!

More Email Marketing Tips

Interested in learning more? Check out 4 Email Practices of Marketing Masters for more insights into how to drive engagement with email.

About the Author
A self-professed data and email geek, Lydia's primary role at Live Nation's House of Blues Entertainment is to help build relationships with fans of the 45 owned and operated venues across the country. You may have seen her speak at Dreamforce or Salesforce World Tour, or perhaps met at one of the 5 Connections she had attended.



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#DIGITAL: Naughty or Nice? Is it Ever Okay to Include Classic SPAM Triggers in Email Subject Lines?
Naughty or Nice? Is it Ever Okay to Include Classic SPAM Triggers in Email Subject Lines?
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