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Make Sure Your Emails Reach Their Destination

We offer a few tips and staying legit to ensure your messages don’t set off spam alerts.

Information is the lifeblood of business. To protect your small business, you’ve put safeguards in place to protect your critical information, such as a firewall, antivirus and antispam software, and maybe even a web threat or intrusion prevention system.

The methods for sending spam continue to evolve and considering that malicious webmail represented 7 percent of all web-delivered malware in March 2011—an increase of 391 percent from January 2011, according to Cisco 1Q11 Global Threat Report, it’s not surprising, then, that you and your customers have spam filters and extra precautions, cranked up to block any potentially dangerous email. So how do you ensure your important communications actually reach those you do business with?

Here are some tips to ensure your email isn’t perceived as spam.

  • Choose your words carefully. Specific words, phrases, or symbols can quarantine or even drop an email when it matches a spam filter rule. For example, using all uppercase letters, multiple exclamation points, and the word “free.” It’s best to tone down your excitement and avoid any hype.
  • Use HTML and graphics sparingly. If your email contains all HTML or a lot of images, it’s likely going to get stopped at the gate by a spam filter. Err on the side of caution and use more plain text than HTML and images in your email.
  • Avoid attachments. How often have you told your employees not to open attachments in emails? Extend that advice to the email you send out and avoid attachments whenever possible. A better practice is to include links, if possible, and avoid using URL shortening services such as bit.ly and ow.ly.
  • Send a test message. If you want to make sure your email reaches its destination, send a test message and retrieve it from several different computers with different email services. And don’t use the word “test” in your email.
  • Be specific. The more details you can include in the subject line the less likely it will be mistaken for spam.
  • Avoid Bcc. Use mail clients and tools that send messages directly to a contact email address and not by hiding all the addresses in a Bcc; or worse yet, compromising privacy by showing all the addresses (and customers) the email is being sent to.

In addition, you should make sure your emails adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act, which sets the rules for commercial email. The Compliance Guide for Business offers helpful information on email requirements, including:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email

What’s spam costing your business?

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