Hot Tips: 10 Reasons Why Your Emails Are Going to Spam
(& How to Fix Them)
Is your email marketing not performing the way you hoped?
Marketing emails going to spam is one of the biggest reasons for low open rates. I’d love to tell you that there’s a perfect recipe for getting high open rates on email marketing, but there isn’t. It’s not an exact science. It depends on your platform, your list, your audience, your content, your market, and other factors. But they won’t even see your emails if spam filters are getting in your way.
So let’s start there.
Here are my top 10 solutions for getting emails into inboxes and in front of eyeballs.
1) BUILD YOUR OWN LIST INSTEAD OF BUYING ONE
Yes, I know that’s the hard way, but it’s the best way. Some purchased lists can be ok (ala homeowner lists that title companies might provide), but they’re never going to be as good as an organically built list of opted-in prospects. Even if the list are up-to-date and scrubbed, the people that you would be emailing don’t know you and have not opted in. Likewise, if you’ve built a list, don’t share it. Don’t use harvesters, either. First, they’re evil and I know you’re not that kind of person. Second, email servers spot that crap and will kick you to spam faster than you can blink.
2) USE DOUBLE OPT-IN
I know that some folks don’t love these because they don’t get as many email subscribers. Think about it, though. Do you want people on your list who don’t want your emails? They’re not going to read them, they aren’t the most likely to do business with you, and they’ll drop your open rates. A great email list is about quality, not quantity. Bonus, it keeps you legal.
3) CLEAN IT UP REGULARLY
Speaking of quality over quantity, it’s a good idea to scrub your list on a regular basis. Low open and click-through rates can ding your email reputation hard. You don’t want that. If they’re not engaging, clean them out. Email hoarders, don’t freak. I got you, boo. You can export them into a csv for excel file if deleting them gives you the heebeejeebees. Just get them out of your primary list. Old leads that have never engaged, people who haven’t opened an email in ages, and emails that are bouncing should come out. If you want to try to reengage them, use that dead list as a retargeting audience on ads to see if you can perk them back up. Either way, they shouldn’t be in your main email list.
4) STAY ON THE UP & UP
I hate spam and my guess is that you do, too. Staying compliant with email marketing laws isn’t just the right thing to do. It also helps to make sure that you don’t end up in the spam folder. I’m not going to dig into what they all are for the purposes of this post, but the simple way to make sure you are compliant is to not do evil stuff. If you want to do more reading, look into the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CAN-SPAM Act. Getting caught for blackhat practices isn’t only not nice, but it can be expensive, too. Like $16K expensive. Per email. Seriously, ouch.
5) SEND GOOD STUFF
A unicorn dies every time a real estate agent sends the “It’s Time to Clean Your Gutters” email. Don’t send emails just to send emails. Make sure that your email content is true to your brand personality, is relevant and informative for your audience, looks professional, and is sent with timing in mind. Emails should sound like they came from you and not a bot. Use your brand voice. If your audience is luxury high-end, don’t send first-time buyer tips. I’ll get to email platforms further down, but they make a huge difference in how your emails look. Take the time to set up a template with your fonts and colors, use Canva blocks to design brand-consistent images, and don’t rush it. As to timing, be consistent and use an email cadence that works for your audience. Don’t flood their inbox, but don’t be a ghost, either.
not sure what your
brand personality is?
6) PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SUBJECT LINES
Subject lines can not only make or break your open rate. They can trigger spam filters or put you in inboxes, too. They should never be misleading. Don’t use things like “RE: Your finances” or “urgent” or anything else scary or deceptive that to get people to open. It may work once but it can kill your emails from then on. Don’t be spammy, manipulative, or creepy. Seriously, no shady shit. Better yet, don’t use this stuff in your content, either.
7) USE PREVIEWS AND TEST MODES
When you think your email is ready to rock, don’t hit that send button just yet. Good email marketing platforms have preview modes so you can see how your email will look on pc vs mobile. Check that. They also let you send a test email to yourself so you can see what it looks like in your inbox. Check that, too. I recommend that you have at least one other person read it, as well. You’d be surprised how many mistakes someone else will see that you didn’t notice. Once your email has hit inboxes, it’s too late to fix typos. My fav proofreader is The Hubster because he doesn’t do real estate and doesn’t know marketing, so he has a totally fresh eye. Plus he will tell me kindy when my butt looks bad in pants, so he’s a keeper.
8) SPLIT LISTS TO DIVIDE YOUR UNSUBS
I know that it’s easier to just keep one massive list for your property updates, new listing alerts, and newsletters. Doing so can increase your unsubscribes and reduce your engagement rates though. It’s worth it to split your lists for different types of emails. People who aren’t actively looking for homes typically do not want weekly emails of new listings. Buyer leads who don’t know you may want your listing drip, but not your newsletter. Use different lists for these. First, it’s a nice thing to do to not send stuff to people who don’t want it. Second, if the potential buyer who doesn’t want your newsletter unsubscribes, they’ll still get property updates. Likewise, the past client who doesn’t want to see new listings every week won’t unsubscribe from your master list and will still get your newsletters. Using separate segments helps keep your stats up while also keeping your unsubs and abuse reports down. Good stats help you stay out of spam filters.
9) USE THE RIGHT PLATFORM
Wouldn’t it be lovely to use one system for everything? The problem here is that while the real estate website CRM you are using is great for property updates, about 95% of them at least partially suck when it comes to designing great newsletters or other marketing emails. Don’t get me wrong. There are some amazing real estate website providers that offer both websites and CRMs. They handle emails like property drips beautifully. When it comes to other email marketing, though, most don’t do it well. I’d love to use a single system, too, but I’d also like to feel like I’m 30 again. Aint gonna happen. If you want to do email marketing beyond listing alerts, use a system that’s built for it. Some real estate solutions will synch your contacts with email marketing platforms either natively or through Zapier. If yours doesn’t, the easy workaround is to export your list from your CRM and update it in your marketing platform every few months. It usually takes about 20 minutes and it’s totally worth it. The first time you do it, it will seem like a pain, but as you get the hand of it it will go quickly. Which platform? MailChimp is by far the most popular and it’s the one that I recommend to clients most often. Why? Because it’s easy to use and it’s free up to the point where your list gets larger or you want to add on features. It also has a lot of integrations partners, including Facebook for running ads. The free MailChimp option is ok, but if you’re doing even monthly newsletters, check out the standard or essential paid plans. They’re cost-effective at 10-15 bucks a month starting out and both give you great tools. Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and others do pretty well, too. The platform that I use for my own business is Drip.com because my business is probably different from yours so I need different things. It’s much better for e-commerce and the workflows are sweet.
10) WATCH YOUR STATS
Another benefit of using a platform for your email marketing that’s actually built for it is that it’s easy to keep tabs on your email performance. Keep an eye on your delivery, open, and click-through rates. Track your unsubscribes and spam reports, too. Over time you’ll start seeing which emails work best so you can constantly improve. Bonus, it’s a great way to catch small problems before they become big ones. If you notice that no one is clicking through, you can change your call to action. If you see that a particular type of email is getting a lot of unsubscribes, stop doing that.
If your marketing emails are going to spam, the good news is that it’s fixable. Just like any other marketing tactic, taking time to do things the right way makes a huge difference in your email marketing. Also good news, the more you stay true to the tips I’ve given you, the higher your open rates and engagement will grow. And the higher your opens and engagement are, the more your list will grow and the more inboxes you’ll hit.
Until next time,