Posted June 1, 2007 5:02 pm by with 11 comments

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Email continues to be a great source of revenue for Internet retailers, but deliverability is still a challenge. Many retailers avoid certain words in emails in a hope of getting them past spam filters. However, according to a recent study from Lyris, tweaking the content of your emails will likely make little impact on your deliverability rate.

On the other hand, making two simple changes can greatly improve your chance of getting your email in front of your customer.
1) Avoid excessive images. Not only do images trigger spam filters, but more and more email clients are blocking images anyway.
2) Avoid using a “From Name” that contains letters and symbols rather than an actual name.

ISPs are automatically rejecting less email than they have in the past, but are giving their customers the ability to label email as spam on an individual basis. As a result, the study recommends that retailers do everything possible to help their customers understand that the email is from a legitimate company. That includes using the brand name in text even if the brand is displayed as an image already.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Hey Greg, nice post. I’m a little confused with your second piece of advice. It’s preferable to have as the ‘from’? Or should it be the other way ’round?

  • email marketing is getting more and more troublesome, is death knocking at its door? I found email marketing useful and great, but what about getting pass the filters as you stated? should we be really putting periods in between letters such as the word “fre.e”

  • You are right Jordan. My fault. It should read “Avoid using numbers and symbols rather than an actual name.’

  • I’ve just started sending out a regular newsletter from one of my sites. I’ve had some issues with deliverability already even though the list is fairly small. Would publishing the newsletter on my site and just sending out an email linking to it be a bad idea? I mean would I lose any advantages?

  • If you can achieve a deliverability rate of 80-90%, that is probably the best you can hope for. If you are under that, start looking for problems. Start with more obvious things than just content–malformed HTML, too many images, domain blacklisted, opt-out info incorrect, etc.

    You should be able to send out your entire newsletter without problems–plenty of similar companies do. A bit of work will pay big dividends. Email is one of the best friends of an online business.

  • Greg,
    Thanks! My rate is right at 85% so far so I guess I’m just being greedy.

  • Great tips. I’ve heard from some Deliverability Consultants that ISPs are getting more strict on domains in the sender’s email address matching the actual source domain as well.

    Also, I was startled to discover the top sources of SPAM (ISP) today:


  • Some mails need to use plenty of images, though. It could be kind of what the company’s look and feel is all about! 🙂

  • Melvin

    To you guys who suggested Greg had go point 2 the wrong way round, were you misreading, or has it already been edited/corrected?

    So does the wording of the subject really not matter? Obviously words such as XXX and other pornography related phrases will send off some triggers, but words such as “Free trial” – are they normally OK?

  • The post has been corrected.

    The subject text definitely matters. However, in this study, that text is not as important to spam filters anymore. They referenced using the word “Free” by way of example and said that you could now get through spam filters easier than in the past.

  • I hate recieving emails so I never thaught about email marketing. But I know from spam I recieve that there are only few emails I am going to read and it is usualy email I subscribed to and not spam.