Believe it or not, not every email marketer understands how to best communicate via email. To illustrate, we recently had a client complain about a low deliverability rate of a mass email message that they sent out – and it actually had a very high “spam” complaint and opt-out rate amongst the folks that actually got it as well. The complaint to us was – “What’s wrong with Open Leads and what are you going to do about it?” Well, Steve (not her real name), truth be told, there is nothing wrong with Open Leads. According to ReturnPath.com, Open Leads has a very high sender score – meaning we have high delivery rates for mail sent off our servers. But I digress.
The truth of the matter was the content and construction of the email message that Steve sent out. There are three main issues that the email exhibited, and you should pay close attention to these points when composing a mass email or autoresponder that you are going to send out through Open Leads:
1) Don’t use HTML if you don’t have to, and especially don’t use it of you don’t have a basic understanding of it. HTML and Spam Filters don’t necessarily get along, so HTML email can more often be intercepted by filters and dumped into spam folders. Plain text stands a higher probability of making it to the Inbox. This particular message was composed in the HTML composition window in Open Leads, but was written as though it was written in plain text. So there were no paragraph or line breaks inserted and the text that was displayed, along with Steve’s signature was all one “clump of text” when it arrived in the recipient’s inbox. I don’t know about everyone, but if I see that sort of message in my inbox, I am thinking it is going straight to the trash. If you are certain you want to use HTML – and sometimes it is required – make sure you know how to make it look good an function properly. A good primer can be found here. Also, get a good HTML editor. Free ones exist that do a pretty good job – such as KompoZer – and commercial ones as well.
2) Attachments. Open Leads does a good job of managing included files for email going out. True file attachments can interrupt deliverability also, especially large ones. We upload your files to our servers, and then include download links at the end of plain text and HTML emails, plus, if you are using HTML, you can embed the download links in the body of the message if you choose. Having said that, though, when you include an attachment, make SURE it is in a format that is universally accessible. Our sample email had an attachment as a Word Document. Not only that, but a Word 2007 document (.docx). Here’s the deal – not everyone has Word, and not everyone has Word 2007. Save your document as a PDF – Portable Document Format. PDFs can be opened and viewed on any platform, and in the formatting you intend. Even though Word docs can be opened outside of Microsoft software, you can lose formatting and layout – meaning you lose control of how the recipient views your document. Oh, yeah. One other thing. When using attachments, don’t compose your email as “Hey, Prospect – Open this attachment for more information! Sincerely, The Person Trying to Win Your Business.” Which brings us to the final point….
3) Compose your message for readability. Write as though you are simply talking to your prospect and give them the info they need or have requested. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t use stilted language or over the top sales words and phrases like “SUPER SALE!!!” “ACT NOW!!!” – not only are Spam Filters smart enough to catch these, but it also looks like you are pushing the hard sell. Be honest, straightforward, and the rest will follow.