Have you ever wondered how “spam filtering” services work? I don’t even want to think about how complicated it must be. In my GMail inbox yesterday, there were about 80 emails, without a single spam email. In the spam bin, I found about 110 emails, of which 0 were ones I really wanted, and about 6 were ones which should, in all truth, have been let through, but which I didn’t care about. That is an astonishingly good identification rate. However, GMail’s spam filter is the best there is, and there’s still a chance that a lot of your emails are going into people’s spam bins. So how do we reduce the risk of this happening?
The obvious thing to avoid is including the sort of terms which will instantly trigger off spam filters. I’m sure you can guess, what these are, and I’m not going to repeat them here. But long-term, the best thing you can do is to keep your email list clean. By that, I mean only send to people who clearly want to read what you’re sending. Why is this? Well, what you want to avoid, above all, is to be labelled as a “spammer” by these filter systems. And without even knowing it, a poor-quality list can be inching you towards getting that label. The important recipients here aren’t the ones who read your emails, or the ones who ignore them, but the ones who don’t want them and can’t be bothered to unsubscribe, and who casually click the “spam” button instead. It’s no good you saying that “it’s not spam, it’s useful stuff”. The fact remains that they clicked the button.
The only thing which any “non-readers” are giving you is a warm feeling of having a nice big list. Somehow, a list of 1000 recipients, of which 400 read the email, seems better than a list of 400, all of which read it. Unfortunately, you need to let the others go. An email, even if it’s only annually, giving people an easy way to unsubscribe from your list, is a good habit for everyone to get into.