You’ve probably read articles about how emails end up in the spam folder, and why Internet Service Providers (ISPs) place them there. But what about the email's recipient? What do they consider to be spam? And what influences them to mark your email as spam?
How do recipients define spam?
Generally email spam is separate spam into 2 categories.
Category #1: email that is annoying. This type of spam is typically promotional and inundates the inbox with multiple emails each week or each day. The email can also be irrelevant to the recipient or too repetitive in its offerings. While annoying, this type of email is harmless.
Category #2: scams, inappropriate content, malware, viruses, or phishing attempts. These are considered dangerous email. Opening this type of email and clicking a link or attachment could prove harmful to your computer and data.
How do recipients interact with spam email?
Recipients are more likely to delete annoying emails first, especially when they’re on mobile devices. It’s easier for them to swipe and clear the email than it is to unsubscribe or mark it as spam. In the quote below, the recipient explains how inconvenient it is to unsubscribe or mark a sender as spam.
“It’s just more hassle. Sometimes you have to log in and deselect things, and it takes too long…” (UK, Gen Z)
If the email is a glaring example of spam, they’ll mark it as spam and let the filters prevent future appearances.
Sender Tip: Make it as easy as possible for recipients to unsubscribe. The easier it is to unsubscribe, the less likely your recipients will mark your email as spam.
A secondary account for spam
Another way recipients interact (or avoid interacting) with spam is by having a secondary email account. According to an online report, 38% of email recipients reported that they have a secondary account for spam and other unwanted emails.
Recipients don’t want their primary inbox flooded with spam and use the secondary address as a catch-all of unwanted email. As you might guess, this secondary inbox is checked much less frequently than the primary inbox.
Sender Tip: This is a good reminder for senders to frequently clean out their unengaged contacts. There’s no point in sending to unchecked inboxes.
How do recipients identify spam?
Recipients are more likely to consider certain types of businesses as spam over others. These include dating sites, drugs or pharmaceuticals, quick loans, and get-rich schemes.
Sender Tip: If you’re in this business category, you have to be especially careful that the recipients you send to truly want your email. Set up a confirmation email that requires recipients to verify and confirm their email address before they are officially subscribed to your mailing list.
If recipients don’t recognize the sender name, they’re much more likely to flag an email as spam.
Take a look at the sender's name in the example below. The sender is “newsletter.” This doesn’t tell you who is actually sending the email, but rather the type of email being sent. Not identifying the sender makes the recipient suspicious that the email is spam.
Sender Tip: Choose an address and sender name that is recognizable, and avoid sending emails with “no reply” in the address. You can use your business’ name or the name of a well-known person at your company.
There are a number of tell-tale signs in a subject line that let the recipient know this email could be spam. Recipients are particularly suspicious of subject lines that include:
• All caps: Feels unprofessional and aggressive, as if someone is “yelling” in your inbox.
• Emojis: Younger generations are more open to emojis in the subject line, but too many emojis (more than 2) look spammy to all generations.
• Promises that are too good to be true: Messages like, “You’ll make millions,” or “Sign up today to win X,” feel suspicious and unrealistic to recipients.
Emails with images that don’t load, basic plain text emails, and emails that include attachments are all red flags for recipients, especially after hearing their colleagues’ horror stories of viruses taking over their computer after opening an unknown attachment.
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