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Bypass Spam Filters With These Email Body Content Best Practices

Rachel Rockwell
Dec 23, 2019
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In the hierarchy of email marketing importance, it would seem that body content ranks lowest, as this can only be seen once the sender name and subject line have successfully earned an open. But, spam filters look at everything, including your email’s body content, prior to letting your message into inboxes so it’s just as important to prioritize this. Let’s take a look at what you should and shouldn’t do with your content to bypass spam filters and garner engagement (read: clicks).

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Avoid spam trigger words

This list of 474 spammy words is helpful to keep handy when writing body copy in addition to your subject line. Some words are evaluated more harshly than others, so there’s no exact formula to follow when crafting your copy, but overall, if your offer comes off as aggressive, sneaky or cheapened by your wording, it will likely raise concern with a spam filter. And, if not with a spam filter, then with the subscribers themselves.

While some ESPs, like our very own Marketing Manager, have built-in tools to check each campaign for potentially spammy content and help boost your sender score, some don’t, and that’s okay because free resources like MailTester and Is Not Spam exist to help you evaluate your campaigns prior to sending so you know what to optimize.

Personalize it

If you’ve ever received an email that directly addresses you, it’s not because a company took the time to send each subscriber an individualized message. The company’s email marketing coordinator likely placed you in a segment and used a merge field to share selections curated “just for you” based on the shopping preferences you exhibited in your last purchase. The big data worked and now you’re in the midst of checking out, wondering how you could possibly be suckered into buying shoes you didn’t know you wanted, and definitely don’t need, again.

That’s the beauty of personalization! Through segmentation, you’re able to cater your body content to individuals’ preferences, which results in higher click-through rates and conversions.

Simplicity is the key to copy

Always keep your copy simple. The length should be short, the tone should be on-brand and the font(s) should be standard. Generally, most people don’t want to read a long-form essay about your latest product, so shoot for concise paragraphs, or even better, bulleted or numbered lists.

Try to stick with fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica and Verdana, as these are always easy to read and common across all ISPs and inbox providers.

Oh, and please, please proofread. Send out test emails to get second, third and fourth sets of eyes on everything, because spam filters and subscribers won’t look kindly on typos.

This email from Anthropologie uses minimal copy to pose a scenario that’ll incentivize you to shop a broad collection of products. No lengthy product descriptions required.

Images are great in moderation

Your images should be complementary to your copy. Avoid using too many images, as they can increase your email’s size, which will lead to slower load times and an unpleasant subscriber experience. Large image files can also slow down your email, so aim for a maximum file sizeof 800k. Your images should only be in JPEG, PNG or GIF formats, and their width should be double that of your email template. (Optimal email template size is 600px, so images should be around 1200px.)

More importantly, make sure each image has alt text, which provides context for images when an ISP or inbox provider blocks them from loading. A strong alt text will describe an image as specifically and succinctly as possible. Alt text also makes it easy for spam filters to scan your content and for subscribers to understand your email’s message sans visuals. (Pro-tip: by hyperlinking your photos, your alt text becomes a call to action.)

Notice how the images in this Ringly email didn’t load, but the addition of alt text still lets subscribers know what the images should be. (Source: CampaignMonitor)

White space is not a waste of space

As long as your content is easy for subscribers to follow from the header logo to the call-to-action button, you can get a little creative with your design. No matter what you choose to do, though, be sure to employ white space throughout, as this will help you separate your elements and make everything easier to read. Plus, if your CTA is done right, white space can truly make it pop.

Use an effective call to action

Speaking of using CTAs right, focus on action-oriented copy and eye-catching visuals. Don’t get too wordy; a simple “Shop now” or “Read more” will do the trick. When it comes to fonts and colors, go big and go home. That is, use big font and button box sizes, but stay true to your branding when it comes to the fonts themselves and the button box colors. If your brand consistently uses Arial and shades of blue and grey, perhaps avoid a bright red CTA written in Comic Sans. Actually, avoid Comic Sans altogether.

Above all else, make sure your CTA can be easily read and clicked on via mobile and desktop inboxes, as this is how you can maximize your conversions.

Include a physical address

If you check the footer of nearly any email in your inbox right now, you’ll likely find a physical address. Per OptinMonster, this is legally required. A physical address can be a company’s headquarters, P.O. box or a private mailbox. This is essentially a second form of identification that lets spam filters and subscribers know you’re real.

Make unsubscribing easy

Per the CAN-SPAM Act, this is also legally required. Providing an easy way to unsubscribe will look good to spam filters and help you avoid getting marked as spam by subscribers, which can impact your deliverability.

Wrapping up

Your body content is just as important as your sender name and subject line. While the latter two will mostly impact your delivery and open rates, your body content’s success will be reflected in your click-through, click-to-open and unsubscribe rates, all of which are vital KPIs in the email marketing game. Planning, creating and reviewing your emails’ contents may require a bit of extra time, but the results will be worth it.

To learn more about the basics of email marketing, download A Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing by Mirabel's Marketing Manager. Click on the button below to download your copy:

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