Like it or not, email still remains as one the most effective marketing tools for events today. Unlike your website or event your event app, the event email is a very controlled experience where you, as the event planner, can decide everything from what it looks like, what time it shows up, the call to action and what kind of personalised content it should use. And best of all, it’s effect is measurable. But with more than 20 percent of legitimate marketing emails never reaching a recipient’s inbox, what steps should event planners take to ensure the successful delivery of their email campaigns?
What is Spam Scoring?
As of March 2017, spam messages accounted for 57% of email traffic worldwide1 – and consequently, email providers are becoming more and more stringent on what content makes it into an inbox and what ends up in junk.
Mail servers and applications use different ways of ‘scoring’ emails – if the score is too high, then your event invite, for example, gets classified as spam and will not reach your attendee’s inbox. What makes it complicated, however, is that each spam filter works a bit differently to the other and ‘passing’ scores can vary. Your email invitation could pass through one attendee’s spam filter, but get flagged by another’s as junk. Spam filters can sometimes even synch up with each other to share what they’ve learned and this will also affect the variability of your spam score.
How to Avoid Your Event Emails Being Marked as Spam
The bad news is that there is no fool-proof formula in addressing the spam issue as filtering criteria is constantly growing and changing. There are, however, some basic steps you can take to help you reduce your email spam score:
1. Check Your Email Settings
Your attendees’ email servers are likely to reject your event emails when the address of your sending server doesn’t match the sender address on the email. So you may be using your registration software’s mail server (eg. email@example.com) to send out your email invitations but the ‘sender’ address on the email that appears in your attendee’s inbox is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To solve this problem, contact the person or organisation that manages your domain – in this case, myevent.com – and ask them to add ‘eventtech.com’ to the SPF record (Sender Policy Framework) for that domain. This tells your attendees’ servers that eventech.com is allowed to send emails on your behalf.
2. Do You Have a Good Sender Reputation?
The delivery rate of the email marketing campaigns you do around your events relies heavily on your sender reputation. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) consider sender reputation as the most important factor in determining whether or not to block certain emails. It’s something you need to keep a constant eye on as it can fluctuate from one email campaign to another. Make sure you have a double opt-in strategy to ensure your attendee list is healthy and engaged, with clear unsubscribe links which will dramatically reduce any spam complaints. There are websites than can help you measure and monitor your sender reputation, like Sender Score and SenderBase.
3. Avoid Buying or Renting Lists
As tempting as it is to grow the potential attendee list for your event, purchased lists are not best practice when it comes to sender reputation. More often than not, they are riddled with dead emails and spam traps, which can mislead mailbox providers that you break the rules by sending unsolicited emails. Your emails will end up in junk folders or you may be branded as a spammer.
Sending to a list that hasn’t given you permission can also impact your ability to market your event, potentially damage your brand and even have legal implications, especially with the enforcement of GDPR next year. Instead, allow your attendee list to grow organically. Give them the option to sign-up to your marketing list when they register for an event – this way, you can ensure that they get all email communications from your organisation for all your events.
4. Remember that Content is King
Spam filters look into your email content. An email containing only a clickable link that takes your attendee to the event registration page, for example, is likely to be marked as spam. Whereas adding some descriptive text to your email will help to avoid this. Make sure you have informative content about your event and try to limit the use of what these filters consider as risky words, such as ‘free’, ‘buy’, ‘order’, ‘purchase’ and ‘promo’. Also, do not capitalise your ‘from’ address or subject line and generally avoid using capitalisation and exclamation marks in the body of your email message, as these will all have a negative impact on your spam score.
Balance your image-to-text ratio – Mail Chimp recommends a ratio of 80% text to 20% images. Emails with lots of images or large images and not much text will get a high spam score. Avoid linking to images that are held on another sever as you’re better off uploading pictures into the email itself. If you are going to use links, make sure your images are hosted at credible services only as this will also have a negative impact on your spam score.
5. Check Your ‘From’ Details
Your attendees’ mail servers check more than your domain and content, with some putting particular attention to your ‘From’ address. Try and avoid frequent changes to your ‘from’ address as this will impact your spam score. When sending invitation emails for your events, ask your attendees to add your ‘From’ address to their address books. This way you can avoid all future email communications with that attendee from ending up in the spam folder.
Lastly, try and avoid using vague field names in your address, such as ‘email@example.com’. Instead, use clear, trustworthy names such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com’. Stick to a limited number of these names and build a good reputation for these addresses by sending engaging emails and you will notice a difference.
6. Consider Whitelisting
It is possible to stop emails being rejected by your attendees’ servers by adding your mail server to a ‘whitelist’ on their servers. This can help if you are targeting individuals from one particular organisation (internal employees) or those attendees using public mailbox providers, such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail. The process, however, does require making changes to email servers that are normally outside your control. It also stops working if the address of your sending server ever changes.
7. Test Your Email ‘Spamminess’
There are a number of free email spam checker tools that can help assess the ‘spamminess’ of your emails and get the most out of your event marketing campaigns. Email Spam Test, for example, is a quick simple test that will analyse your email content, including subject line, HTML source and links, to determine whether most spam filers will block it. Others like Mail Poet, are designed to test the “spamminess” of newsletters. It checks content for specific words, while also comparing your email address to common blacklists. Another one you can use is Blacklist Check – it allows you to compare IP addresses in your company to 100 common DNS-based email blacklists. If any of your company’s IP address have been blacklisted, messages sent from them will not be delivered to inboxes that are secured with most traditional email spam filters—and that might include your own organisation.
Avoiding spam filters isn’t usually something event planners will worry about – yet it can have a huge impact on the success of your event’s email marketing campaign. So next time you’re sending out invitations by email, think back to some of the tips we talked about here. Configure your account to the right settings, use relevant and engaging content and send to permission-based email lists. Doing so will not only increase your open and click-through rates, but will also send positive signals to your attendees’ email providers to ensure all your future email campaigns end up in the right inbox.
Are there any other spamming tips you’d like to include in this list? Let us know as we’d love to hear your views!
Would you like to stay up to date on all things event tech? Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk Newsletter here and get all the latest news, advice and tips on the technology trends shaping the events industry today.