[Downloadable] The Words to Avoid if You Don’t Want Your Emails Flagged as Spam

spam-words

spam-words

There’s much information online on starting an email list and then growing it as one of the main parts of your online business.

This isn’t one of those articles.

The harsh truth is that no matter how good your marketing is, and your individual tactics are, a big portion of your email messages will still get filtered out into spam folders.

People won’t even see them in their inboxes.

“So I spend all this time trying to get subscribers and then my email tool fails to deliver? Really?!”

Well, yeah.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the case.

MailChimp actually reports that on average, 10-20 percent of email gets killed off by spam filters.

And this concerns legitimate businesses, not spammers. Heck, if you’re a genuine spammer then the numbers are probably more like 95 percent, but I digress.

So why after learning all those great list-growing-techniques we still end up defeated by a script that calls itself the spam filter?

The answer:

You’re using the wrong words

There are two sides to writing proper email copy:

  1. Writing copy that converts and convinces your people to take action on what you’re saying. This is something guys like Derek Halpern and Neil Patel will teach you.
  2. Writing copy that doesn’t get flagged as spam by an automated piece of software – a spam filter. This is what I will be talking about here.

We can argue which of these aspects email copywriting is more important, but frankly you can’t have one without the other.

That being said, if your copy doesn’t check out with spam filters then the fact how good it is conversion-wise won’t even matter.

Let’s try to understand how spam filters work and how we can defeat them.


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What’s a spam filter?

A spam filter is a small piece of software that’s installed on every email server.

The only task it has is to read (yes, read) all email coming in and decide whether it’s spam or not.

Spam filters use complex math to make that decision.

At the core of this math, there’s a database of phrases, expressions, and the relationships between them, along with specific point values for each entry.

Having this data, the spam filter calculates the individual message’s spam score and checks if it exceeds a given threshold. If it does, off to the spam folder the message goes.

The difficult part is that there’s no single internet-wide threshold. Every server has its own, so you can never know what’s a safe spam score.

How to defeat the spam filter?

Since we do know what’s the spam filter’s game, we can adjust our copy to get thee lowest score possible.

Now, spam filter algorithms are not secret (like Google’s). If you go to http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_0_x.html you will get the complete list of factors with their exact spam values.

The list is long and complicated, though, so what I’ve done here is I’ve taken the most crucial expressions and put them on the following typography chart.

How to read this thing? Generally, the higher up the list the expression is, the more you should avoid using it.

Note. I’m excluding a big part of Viagra, porn, dating, and pharmacy -related stuff. Those are the biggest spam factors, but I figured no one here is in this business anyway. If you do want the full list, however, feel free to contact me through the contact form.


95 most spam-filter-visible things to avoid in your newsletter emails

 

Tier 1 (spam factors of 2.5-2.0) “the high risk list”

Message body mentions many internet domains · Subject starts with dollar amount · Offers an alert about a stock · Contains a URL with an affiliate ID code · “University Diplomas” · “What are you waiting for” · Subject contains lots of white space · Contains a URL in the BIZ top-level domain · Tiny font size (HTML) · Talks about a million North American dollars · Claims to honor removal requests · “Money back guarantee” · Claims you registered with a partner

Tier 2 (spam factors of 1.9-1.6) “the avoid if possible list”

“Confidentiality on all orders” · HTML includes a form which sends mail · Claims you have provided permission · Stock Disclaimer Statement · Subject includes “life insurance” · Incorporates a tracking ID number · HTML font size is huge · Describes body fat loss · Subject contains “Your Bills” or similar · Subject “GUARANTEED” · HTML has a low ratio of text to image area · Contains a URL in the INFO top-level domain · Talks about quotes with an exclamation! · Message body has 70-80% blank lines · Subject contains “Your Family” · HTML link text says “push here” or similar · “No Claim Forms” · “Free Preview” · “Home refinancing” · “Compete for your business”

Tier 3 (spam factors of 1.5-1.1) “the better not do list”

Talks about millions of dollars · Send real mail to be unsubscribed · Claims compliance with spam regulations · Prestigious Non-Accredited Universities · “Be your own boss” · Domain name containing a “4u” variant · “Buy Direct” · Message body has 90-100% blank lines · They have selected you for something · Talks about exercise with an exclamation! · Claims you can be removed from the list · Claims you wanted this ad · Contains mail-in order form · Subject starts with “Hello” · “Get Paid” · HTML font size is large · “You can search for anyone” · “Freedom of a financial nature” · Subject: contains G.a.p.p.y-T.e.x.t · Contains “earn (dollar) something per week” · Weird repeated double-quotation marks · “Have you been turned down?” · “Home refinancing” · Talks about free mobile phones · Talks about “starting now” with capitals · “People just leave money laying around” · “Why Pay More?” · “Eliminate Bad Credit” · Claims you can be removed from the list · “Receive a special offer”

Tier 4 (spam factors of 1.0-0.3) “the quiet killers list”

Contains “Dear (something)” · HTML has a low ratio of text to image area · HTML font color similar to background · List removal information · Subject contains “As Seen” · Possible mention of bill 1618 (anti-spam bill) · “Amazing Stuff” · Information on mortgages · “Save big money” · “There is no obligation” · “Consolidate debt, credit, or bills” · “Lowest Price” · Mail guarantees satisfaction · Subject contains “Your Own” · “While you Sleep” · Offers a full refund · Subject is all capitals · Doing something with my income · Talks about Oprah with an exclamation! · Subject contains “For Only” · “One hundred percent guaranteed” · HTML is extremely short · Subject line starts with Buy or Buying · Describes weight loss · “See for yourself” · “Dear Friend?” That’s not very dear! · “Free Membership” · HTML has very strong “shouting” markup · “Requires Initial Investment” · “As seen on national TV!” · “Accepting credit cards” · Mentions millions of dollars

Quick fixes

Okay, so the obvious path would be to not do any of the above, but that will rarely be possible. So here are some quick fixes that you should look into.

First of all, there’s one fix (to rule them all) that allows you to never worry about ending up in the spam folder ever again. That fix is convincing your subscribers to add you to their white lists.

The value of this fix, according to Spam Assassin, is -100 (negative 100). This basically makes you invisible to spam filters even if you’re selling Viagra.

Other things worth doing:

  • If possible, mention only one URL in your message.
  • If you can set up your email service provider to not say anything along the lines of “you’re receiving this message because you opted in yada yada” then do so.
  • Don’t say anything about spam in the email.
  • Don’t say anything about actions required for unsubscribing.
  • Don’t start the subject line with “Hi”
  • Don’t start your email with “Dear [someone]”
  • Don’t claim compliance with any spam regulations.

Compiling this list gave me a lot of insight into what I should be doing with my own emails, so I hope you will get similar value as well.

For convenience, if you’d like a more printer-friendly version of this chart then it’s on the “thank you” page of my email newsletter signup (hint!).

Get the thing here:

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Let’s grow our businesses together!

[Downloadable] The Words to Avoid if You Don’t Want Your Emails Flagged as Spam | NewInternetOrder.com

Why Launching a Blog “For Yourself” Doesn’t Work – a Failure Case Study

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So a while ago, I launched a new blog. Something that was built because, and I quote my very first launch post:

I write this blog purely for myself. {Name} is something I want to start and participate in from now on. I’ve created this blog to document my progress, nearest plans and goals.

I even went on to say that:

[...] I don’t intend to focus on things like SEO and promotion. Essentially, I don’t care how popular this blog is or will be.

Quite strange, right?

A couple of words of explanation before I get any deeper into this, just so you know why I’m even sharing this story here.

The “whats”

  1. This was a purely personal project. This means that I indeed didn’t want to grow a community around it. I mean, I wouldn’t mind, but this was nowhere among my goals.
  2. This was my attempt at running something not-business-related alongside my everyday efforts in other areas.
  3. The project was about improving some aspects of my life and documenting the progress along the way. You could call it a personal development project.
  4. I won’t disclose the name of the project here because right now, there’s a fairly ugly imposter site under the old domain name and it does focus somewhat on the same idea. So, I’m guessing someone took the domain over once I didn’t pay to have it kept online.
  5. The site was live for 12 months.
  6. I published a total of 4 (!) posts.
  7. I didn’t stop pursuing the thing that the site was supposed to document, I just stopped writing about it.

What’s in it for you

Now, the most important question here is this: What’s in it for you and how can you learn from my unfortunate mistakes?

Here are the things I’m about to discuss:

  • Why I think that writing a 100% personal blog is very unlikely to stand the test of time.
  • How to find out if you’re heading towards failure or not.
  • How to launch a personal blog better.
  • When is a good time to pull the plug on such a site.

First order of business:

The problem with “I will just write” mindset

The number one thing I did badly was having an “I will just write” mindset.

I mean, I had the idea for the project pretty much figured out (I still have), but when it came to my content writing plan, there wasn’t any. I just thought that since I am engaged in this whole thing, writing something about it every other day wouldn’t be a problem. It was.

(And I’m really sorry because I know that this post might be a little harder to read due to the fact that I’m not disclosing what the project was about, but I don’t think it’s necessary here. After all, it’s the blog we’re talking about here.)

The thing I learned from this is that you always need a content plan, or in other words, a plan on how you’re going to create content exactly. And “exactly” is the keyword here. If you don’t start with such a plan, you’ll almost certainly fail.

How to stay motivated on a daily basis

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The main problem with personal blogs (at least in my opinion) is that the only audience is you. This has many consequences. One of which is that it’s really easy to slack off and don’t write anything for a week or so. After all, since it’s only you reading then nothing bad can happen anyway, right?

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a bigger responsibility to write for your online business website, and therefore, kind of easier to stay motivated. You have audience. You have views. You have revenues. In the end, not publishing content has a direct impact on your bank account. For a personal blog though, none of this applies.

The way to fix this is to cheat. More precisely, to cheat yourself into some daily work. You can do it by creating a habit of writing in the morning. In other words, every morning, right after breakfast, you write a blog post.

Creating such a habit has many benefits and ending up with some fresh blog posts is only one of them. For instance, it’s a great warm-up and a superb method of waking up and getting over the morning slowness.

(This isn’t a new idea from me; I actually shared it in one of my guest posts.)

The funniest part in all of this is that even though I do a lot of my writing in the morning, I seem to forgot about the idea when creating content for that personal blog. I think that by doing just this one thing alone – writing something in the morning – I would probably be able to run the blog consistently, instead of having just 4 posts on it.

Getting caught up in the setup process

Another problem I experienced was that, for some reason, I spent a lot of time on the setup itself. I mean, this was supposed to be a personal site from the start, so I really don’t have a clue why I spent hours looking for the perfect theme and set of plugins. It makes no sense to me now that I look back.

The correct way of doing this should be to just have the site launched on a default WordPress theme (really), which these days is Twenty Thirteen (the new theme in WP 3.6).

The only reason I can see why I didn’t do it like that is because I was worried that someone might find the blog and think that it’s shitty because of the default theme. A stupid worry, I know.

The no. 1 sign you’re just about to fail

The toughest part of facing failure is probably noticing that it’s coming your way in the first place. Or scratch that. The toughest part of avoiding failure is to notice it’s coming your way.

For a business, failure is very very easy to spot. Essentially, if you don’t have money, you’ve failed. For a personal blog, it’s not that obvious.

There is one thing though. If you’ve been running a personal blog and the following two things have occurred then you’re close to failure:

  1. You didn’t publish anything for a long while, and
  2. You broke the silence by publishing a “sorry I’ve been away” post.

The thing with “sorry I’ve been away” posts is that they are often your very last posts on the blog, despite the fact that they are the posts where you usually promise to get back to regular postings.

This is exactly what happened to me. I published my “sorry I’ve been away” post in April 2012, after 7 months of inactivity (the period between my post #3 and #4). This post has then become my last post ever on the site.

So the lesson for you is the following: If at any point in time you feel the need to publish a “sorry I’ve been away” post, your site is in serious trouble.

This moment is a good opportunity to make a decision. Should you pull the plug? Or should you keep going after slight re-evaluation of your goals? (A question to answer on your own.)

Conclusion

The lesson for me in all this is that personal blogs are not as easy as they seem. And even though it can be argued that there’s no such thing as failure with them, the fact is that not posting anything for 7 months and then abandoning the blog altogether is a failure by every definition.

I guess the main, in-the-nutshell, takeaway from the story is this: Treat your personal projects and blogs just like you’re treating your main business. Just because they are personal, doesn’t mean that they are unimportant.


Why Launching a Blog “For Yourself” Doesn’t Work – a Failure Case Study | newInternetOrder.com

What if I Took the COMPLETE How-To on Building a New Online Business Site and Published It IN ONE PLACE?

tabletWell, actually, I just did.

This concept of structured resource pages is really taking off here at newInternetOrder so I’ve decided to keep up the paste and publish another page today. This time, as you can see in the headline, it’s about building and launching a new online business site.

First or all, it focuses on the technical side of things. So no niche research, no keyword research, no advertising, no partnership building or anything like it. Just straightforward technical how-to for everyone who wants to launch a new site quickly, and then use it as a base of a new online business.

Here’s the link to the page:


And here’s what you can find there:

  1. Choosing a domain name for your online business – tools, how to select a domain name, what TLD to get (.com, .net, ?), where to make the purchase.
  2. How to handle web hosting for your online business – why you need a web host, free vs. paid hosting, choosing a web host and a hosting plan, where to buy hosting, connecting your domain and hosting together.
  3. How to build and install your website – getting started with a website, why you don’t need expensive designers and developers, what is WordPress and what it can do for you, installing WordPress in 5 minutes, selecting a theme (and where to get a quality one), understanding plugins (and which ones to get), SEO, site security (important).
  4. Blogging for online business; how to blog effectively – does your online business need a blog, how to blog, how to turn your blog into a valuable asset for your business.
  5. Getting an edge in online business – advanced WordPress tactics – what steps to take next in order to make your WordPress site hyper-optimized and highly reader-friendly.

There’s truly a lot of content. But you can consume it in one of three alternative ways. You can either (1) read the whole thing from start to finish, (2) go directly to the parts that interest you the most (there’s a cool navigation provided on the page), or you can (3) display the content as a list of links for future reference.

I hope you enjoy it and that it’ll help you get going with your new site. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here.


What if I Took the COMPLETE How-To on Building a New Online Business Site and Published It IN ONE PLACE? | newInternetOrder.com