Has your business become an accidental spammer?

Has your business become an accidental spammer?

One day, when I was checking my Google Gmail’s spam folder I noticed one very striking ‘spam’ email. Guess who sent that ‘spam’?


It seems that Google’s spam filtering technology is so sensitive that it flagged its emails as spam! If Google can’t even save its emails from its spam filter, what about the emails sent by your business?

This question is especially pertinent to your marketing emails. In the heat of your sales enthusiasm, it is very easy to accidentally craft a copy that looks like spam to the spam filter. So, how do you save your emails from the clutches of the spam filter? To answer this question, I’ll first give you some insights into how Google’s spam filters work.

Google has the best spam filtering technology. It achieves that through an artificial intelligence technique called Bayesian filtering. When a user clicks on the “Report Spam” button in Gmail, it teaches Google to recognise that email as spam. Since Google has hundreds of millions of Gmail users, it has the feedback of hundreds of millions of people to learn how to recognise spam.

What is the implication? If your business sends mass marketing emails indiscriminately, resulting in mass spam complaints, Google will soon learn to recognise these emails as spam. If your business does it consistently, very soon more and more of your emails will end up in the spam folder of every Gmail user. That means your email campaign will be less and less effective, even to the point of becoming useless, because it will not get opened in the first place. If you do it persistently, eventually emails from your business will be blacklisted by spam filters.

So, these are the guidelines I always advise my clients:

  1. Sent to whom your business already has a relationship.
  2. Email recipients must explicitly permit them to opt into the email list and preferably be reminded that they have done so.
  3. You must allow recipients to unsubscribe from your email list.
  4. Your email must preferably address the name of the recipient—that makes the email more personal and less likely to be reported as spam.

One more thing to take note: In my experience, I find that email users can be very indiscriminate when it comes to pressing the “Report Spam” button. Sometimes, they click on that button because they simply do not like your emails, not because they objectively deem them as spam. For example, if you send emails about your delicious steak restaurant to die-hard vegetarians, you run a great risk of losing lots of brownie points in the eyes of Google’s spam filter!

So, remember to check that your marketing emails don’t get flushed into the spam folder!

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About the Author
Terence Kam Terence Kam
Terence is the founder of Stratigus. See his profile here.

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