Posts Tagged ‘spam’

How hard is email marketing really? I mean, you get a list of people, take a blank email and load it up with pictures and words about your products and services, link to your website and send the email out right?

Um…. only if you have the intent to send really terrible emails that will harm your deliverability, and create a bad perception of your brand for your subscribers.  Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels out there and it can do amazing things for conversions, sales, ROI… if you put just a bit of time and effort into it.

However sadly most people take the ‘slap it together’ approach and this only serves to work against you long term. So seeing as I am always writing about best practice techniques and how to do email marketing better…. I thought I would do the complete opposite and list the ways you can do email really terribly to make my point…



Below I list all the ways that are guaranteed to ensure your email marketing program dies a slow painful death:

Purchase lists and upload them and blast your emails out to everyone – they all want what you have, they just don’t know it yet!
Don’t bother having a mobile version of your email or incorporting a responsive design
Don’t bother including alt text on images to tell people what they are about, people should just download the images
Don’t include an unsubscribe link – these people obviously need to be receiving the information you are sending
Sender score? What’s a sender score? If you don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist, therefore don’t worry about it
Include merge fields and don’t check them – people don’t mind if the email says ‘dear first name’
Don’t worry about testing, it’s enough you lay the email up and make it look good, shouldn’t it just work?
Don’t bother doing any analysis – just a lot of numbers and mumbo-jumbo – just watch the unsubscribes
Getting someone’s business card gives permission to email them so collect, collect collect, and send send send!
Send emails without a call to action – the awesome information in your email is enough
Preference centre – what’s a preference centre? Just have one type of email and one list of people and they all get to receive what you send….
Don’t take the time to identify inactive subscribers – just keep sending them emails, they are probably just busy, they’ll open them eventually
Save out a previously sent email to create a new email, which increases your chances of you sending the email out without updating the links
Keep content boring and be sure to avoid anything interactive, engaging, fun or surprising, just stick to sending those limited time offers
Ask for your customers preferences and then disregard the data  - isn’t the point to ask people what they want, you don’t actually have to do anything about it?
Take all that stuff off the footer – it just takes up extra space and people can Google that stuff anyway
Don’t test in Litmus – it’s not important to see how the email displays in different email clients and mobile devices – I’ll just test to my email address and its good to go
Don’t bother checking any of the links in your email campaign, they’ll be fine…
Send a plain text auto responder welcome email with something bland such as ‘thanks for subscribing’ with no branding or important information
Personalise each and every email subject line and greeting with the persons name just because you have it – subscribers love that
Don’t include a pre-header link – just jump straight into the email itself – it just takes up space, why is it there anyway?
It is all about your marketing goals so remain completely centered on promoting your company and don’t worry about what the subscriber wants
Send as many emails as possible – if in doubt of the most appropriate sending frequency, just email away
Don’t bother including dynamic content (Dynamic content, what’s that?) Just send the same information out to everyone, too complicated to figure out  any form of personalisation or targeting
Include important information and links below the fold (The fold? What’s that?) so that people have to scroll down to the bottom…  people love scrolling
Don’t make it easy for your subscriber to click through to your landing pages or website, or find what they want, and don’t include an obvious call to action, and remove any helpful navigation. (Customer journey? What’s that?)
Make links really small and close together and make it really annoying especially for mobile users who are reading your email on the go. People love a challenge.
Use 14 point font, make some font bold, some italic, even comic sans and non web-safe fonts, and use lots of different colours to really make it stand out, the more attention getting the better
Strip out any recognizable logo’s and be very inconsistent in the look, functionality and branding of your emails from one to the next. Better still don’t use a template or use branding at all!
Even better, just stick an image into a blank email and send it out. No alt text, no template, no branding, nothing. Emailing your PDF flier out as one big JPG is a great idea!
Use a from name that you know who it is but is not obvious to your subscribers, like Barbara Smeath, if you keep them guessing they will have to open your email
Best thing ever – to stop people unsubscribing, link them to a login page so they need to login to the account they made 10 years ago and have forgotten about to unsubscribe. It becomes so hard they don’t unsubscribe! Win!
In addition to that, forgo signing up for feedback loops or ignore the unsubscribe requests for as long as possible and send them more emails in the meantime in case they change their mind

After you have done all of this, be sure to include links to your social profiles so people can connect with you on there and share their terrible experience – just be sure to ignore them and bury those comments…

OK now we have had a walk down bad-practice lane, it’s honesty time folks – do any of the above points sound anything like your email marketing practices? Are you ready to step it up? Email the experts to see how you can dramatically improve your email program, improve your deliverability and make all your subscribers really happy!

Sometimes at Jericho we get asked ‘where do you recommend we purchase lists from to increase our database?’ And we say ‘Contact George Adugadugwengo‘.

Seriously though purchasing lists is something we strongly recommend against doing, and here is some evidence why it’s a bad idea.

In accordance with the CAN SPAM act and regulations from the DIA, all subscribers on your database need to be subscribed via either express consent, inferred consent, or deemed consent, which all basically mean that they have explicitly asked to be added to your list or implied they would like to be added to your list. To read all about the types of consent, you can read about this here:

Part of this act specifies businesses must not use electronic address harvesting software, or lists that have been generated using such software, for the purpose of sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Click here to read about this in more detail:

Once subscribers are on your list,  there are best practice guidelines to follow such as clearly displaying an unsubscribe link, a privacy policy, and display your business name and contact details, and telling your subscribers how often you will send emails, which is just being transparent and informing people and keeping in line with best practices. To read all about best practices, how to comply with this act, and avoid accidently spamming people, and read other FAQ’s you can read all about this here:
Also every now and then we blog about different SPAM case studies and best practice advise on our Jericho blog, so keep your eye out on there too, for a start you can read this post here about email law:

We can also provide a copy of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act document and answer any questions and provide further advise – contact our expert team.

You know when you move out of home and suddenly the washing piles up and the dishes don’t get done and the rubbish hasn’t gone out in a while? And you wonder how it got done before?

When you live at home you tend to take for granted that these things magically get done when you were not looking (Spoiler alert – your mother does it) and when you move out of home you realise that you now need to take responsibility and do all these things yourself, and by taking charge of these tasks you can improve the health and cleanliness of your environment. (Wow!)

Well I guess it’s safe to say most of you have learnt that one, however I’ve got something else to break to you; YOU control your sender reputation of your email marketing – not your ESP or mailbox providers. (What!?)  That’s right – your mother doesn’t work in your deliverability department. To improve your deliverability and reputation, you need to take some control.

There are five key factors that drive deliverability that you can control:
- Authentication
- List cleansing
- Relevant and valuable content
- Active engagement
- Continuous testing

Now I know deliverability can seem like a very complex system of things that need to be optimised and monitored and analysed and that can seem a bit overwhelming. However there really are a range of simple things you can do to improve your sender reputation, and your deliverability.


What can you do right now?

- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a ‘friendly’ recognisable from name
- Send relevant content
- Set expectations

A poor reputation drives poor inbox delivery, however as you control your reputation, the sooner you recognise that the sooner you can improve it.

What exactly can affect your sender reputation?
- Spam complaints
- List quality
- Content
- Engagement
- IP Permanence

Recipients can complain because the email may not be of interest or relevance to them, perhaps wasn’t what they expected, perhaps they didn’t recognise the sender, or perhaps they are just receiving too much email or couldn’t find the unsubscribe button. Which is why having a recognisable from name, relevant content and a clearly visible unsubscribe link are SO important.

Firstly, spam complaints can be the #1 reason for decline in your reputation, and is the biggest indicator to ESP’s that your subscribers don’t want your email and this can result in your email being filtered or blocked.


So what can you do to reduce complaints?
- Set expectations
- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a recognisable from name
- Send relevant and valuable content
- Enrol in feedback loops

One of the best things you can actively do to increase your reputation is provide valuable and relevant content that your subscribers want to read, the flow on effect being they will look forward to your email in their inbox and they will open, read, and clickthrough, increasing your engagement and over time that helps increase your reputation.

How important is relevance? 25% of subscribers said they have unsubscribed because the email wasn’t relevant. Well I think it’s worth listening to quarter of your entire database don’t you?

The implications of not being relevant are declining ROI and reputation and eventual increase in unsubscribes and/or complaints.

How can you increase relevance?
- Segment your data based on active/inactive subscribers, demographic, location, etc
- Implement a preference centre so the subscribers are in charge of what they receive and how often
- Send a survey asking your subscribers what they want – but be sure to deliver it
- Use dynamic content to change out content based on subscribers preferences
- Use personalisation throughout the email such as name, account number, points balance, purchase activity, etc

Now it’s no use having an email people want to read if people don’t receive it, so ensure you make it a priority to manage your list hygiene, and make that list as clean and shiny as possible. A clean list means you will be sending to actual humans – not spam traps or old inactive email addresses. It also means higher accepted rates, lower bouncebacks, and therefore better deliverability.

How can you improve your list hygiene?
- Review bouncebacks and correct invalid addresses
- Remove inactive subscribers
- Review your data collection process and ensure accuracy
- Grow your list organically – never purchase!
- Implement a double opt-in process
Then once you have implemented these strategies TEST, TEST, and TEST some more. Be continually analysing and testing a range of variables to find out what works, what doesn’t and what can be changed to suit your audience.

What are some things you can test?
- Email frequency
- Subject lines
- Email cadence
- Send day and time
- Personalisation in content

It’s important to get the frequency right because 54% of consumers say they unsubscribe when emails from a particular sender arrive too frequently….  How do you find the balance between too much and not enough? This is where asking your subscribers how often they want to hear from you can be the perfect solution.

Want some further advice? We have deliverability experts, design experts and experienced account managers at Jericho who can answer your questions – email us!

We have always talked about the need to remove inactive email addresses from your email list. It has now just become more important than ever.  Yahoo has announced that they’ll be releasing user names that haven’t been accessed in over 12 months and making those names available for someone else to register. This isn’t a one time thing, but a new policy going forward which is in place from 15 July 2013.


Why is this important?

Scenario 1: You have a Yahoo user who has subscribed to your list with a Yahoo email… it becomes their email that all their mail subscriptions get sent to, it gets filled up with emails, and after a while they don’t check the address, and they never log into the account. Say a year goes by, and they haven’t logged in. So Yahoo releases that email account and a new person signs up for that old email address. Now a different person who never signed up to your list will potentially be getting your emails. You think they will just hit junk/spam or delete? You bet they will.

Scenario 2: Yahoo turns some of these old addresses turned into Spam Traps. Spam Traps are email addresses which are either never used or retired email addresses that are used to catch spammers and those with poor emailing/list management habits. If you continue email those spam traps…… can you see how this could impact on your deliverability?


What should I do?

Here’s the steps you should take for all email addresses (not just Yahoo) on your list and signing up:

  1. All new sign up’s should ideally be double opted-in. This helps to ensure it’s a live email address manned by a human
  2. All new sign up’s should be sent a welcome email or transactional email after they sign up. These emails should make it clear how and where they signed up as well as an easy to click and clear link to unsubscribe.
  3. All addresses that do not take an action (open/clickthrough/share/forward etc.) after about 6-9 months time should be removed from your list. Email activity is the key metric and you should be engaging inactive subscribers at the 3-6 month mark in an attempt to get them active again. If after six months of not opening, it’s highly likely they never will.


What should I be aware of as a marketer?

A Yahoo! spokeswoman said that between mid-July and mid-August when the old email addresses become available, Yahoo! would attempt to unsubscribe the old emails from as many commercial lists as possible and all email to those addresses would result in bounce messages. So one solution is to make sure you send a campaign out between mid-July and mid-August so that if it hits any inactive emails you will get a bounce message so you can then you can remove any old emails.


This new policy by Yahoo makes list cleaning a must for anyone who manages an email list.


Following on from our post about how your From Name and Subject Line act as the gatekeepers to your email campaigns, (Click here to read) we are now going to tell you the formula for creating the ultimate subject line so you can increase your chances of your campaign standing out, getting opened, and getting read.

As we’ve said before, prompting the open by getting past the first ‘gatekeepers’ is the primary goal, because you can’t count clickthroughs – much less sell something -  if no-one opens your email.

So with so many people receiving many emails, deleting and filtering, how do you get your subscribers attention? A great subject line gets your email opened.



Spam filters can be triggered by a variety of reasons, rarely will specific words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’ get you a one way ticket into the spam folder – filters are changing and it takes a combination of things to really mark your email as spam. So don’t be afraid to put in the odd exclamation mark, you can use all caps, even the word free or sale is fine.

The key is to use these words sparingly. Spam filters assign points to ‘spam’ words, and if the points exceed a certain threshold then the email is considered spam.  However if you just use one or two of these words and symbols throughout your email or even just in the subject line, they won’t automatically mark your email as spam – you may have heard us say before that while content filtering is important, there are now other factors like your sender reputation and engagement metrics that are much more important.


You may have heard a lot of talk about geo-location lately – well collecting and using geo-location data to create more relevant and personal emails and subject lines can increase open rates.  For example, the same email content can come to life when the subject line suggests it’s especially relevant for you.  American retailer Urban Outfitters does this well with subject lines often calling out to me ‘Hey New Zealand – here’s our best sale yet’  or ‘We ship for free to Kiwis every day!’.  Extrapolate that out to your regional customers and – well you see our point.

Subject lines framed as questions have often performed better in tests. Of course you won’t be asking just any old random question – consider your audience, their interests, what your campaign is about, and frame a question around that which will pique their interest and even better if they can respond in some way you can increase engagement.  ‘How many ways can you wear this scarf?’  ‘What’s the best way to show the world you care?’.

Email marketing company MailerMailer found that longer subject lines had lower open rates and click through rates than those emails with shorter subject lines.  They found emails with 28-39 characters in the subject line had the highest open and click through rates. Considering that is about how many characters of a subject line smartphones display, that is no surprise. So the golden rule of thumb is keep it shorter than 50 characters, or at least make your point early in the sentence!


✓ There has been a craze of sorts lately with people using ✶symbols✶ in clever ways in an effort to stand out in the inbox. If used appropriately and cleverly, ✈ symbols may get you more opens, but too many symbols might start driving people crazy so again use sparingly ☂ and only if relevant ☀.  You can read our article about using symbols here.

We’ve heard recently that contrary to previous advice, using the recipient’s name in the subject line does not significantly improve open rates. If it clearly looks like a mail merge then it’s not very personalised at all and will probably have no effect, however if you use their name cleverly and in a relevant way, it may increase opens. In their July 2012 study, MailerMailer saw significantly lower click through and open rates for personalised subject lines compared to non personalised ones.   We have many clients who use this technique every time and it works very well – the answer for you is TEST it!


Keep it useful – why would your recipient want to open your email?  Tell them.

Keep it short – remember the golden rule of 50 characters.

Keep it specific – make sure it is relevant and valuable to the recipient.

Keep it timely – with everything being instant now there really is no place for old news, old jokes, or old memes – keep it fresh.

Always have a call to action – people will respond when you tell them to do something. So ask yourself why are you emailing them? What do you want them to do?  Make your CTA’s easy and ensure they make sense.

Test test test – use the A/B split test send function and test out different subject lines and learn what works for your audience.

Set expectations – clearly state what’s inside the email, and why the recipient should read it.

This advice along with the previous post on From Names and Subject lines will give you some things to work on, and we’re here if you want to talk about what works for you, what doesn’t work and how you might grow your response rates, and deliver great emails to happy customers!

When a recipient marks your email as ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ in their inbox, a good ESP (email service provider) will receive that notification via the feedback loop  set up with the ISP.

This will unsubscribe the person so you do not send them any emails again, which is a best practice action and helps preserve your reputation as a good email marketer.

However, what happens when your customer wants to get BACK on your email list?  They have marked the email as spam so it will go straight to the junk folder each time.  Unless they reverse the action and mark it as ‘not spam’ or ‘not junk’.

If you need to pass these instructions on, you can send this page by clicking the title ‘Not Junk’ How to get your email back to someone who has marked it as spam  above, and sending the link to the page.

Here is what they need to do:

  1. Go to the Junk/Spam folder of the email client
  2. Tick the email(s) you wish to un-junk or un-spam
  3. Click ‘Not Spam’ or ‘Not Junk’ as indicated in the screenshots below.







We say it with only a slight tongue in cheek – 100% of the emails you send that are not delivered will never sell anything.   So, since email-in-inbox is the start of everything – here they are – the top 5 deliverability myths de-mystified!

1. Thinking that sending legally compliant messages will protect you.
Not true! Legislation like the NZ UEM Act, and the USA’s CAN-SPAM is just the bare minimum threshold that you should adhere too.  We always say that if you are trying to hide behind fine print you are doing something wrong. Treat your database with respect by doing what you say you will do, increasing the relevance of your content to your subscribers, and working on all of your deliverability best practices to improve your reputation over time.

2. You think confirmed opt-ins wouldn’t click the ‘mark as spam’ or ‘add to junk folder’  button.
Not true! This action is viewed as a complaint by ISP’s and is taken really seriously by them.  If you have more than 1 in a 1000 of these ‘complaints’ you could see an impact on your email delivery.  Why do they do it?  It can be a quick way for subscribers to remove the email even if they have subscribed. A significant % of recipients do this rather than unsubscribing – one reason is they may not know the difference between the ‘spam’ and the ‘unsubscribe’ functions and not realise the effect it has on reputation.  We’ve seen reports that subscribers don’t want to ‘hurt your feelings’ by unsubscribing so they just sweep you out of the inbox.  For others hitting ‘spam’ is simply quicker than finding the unsubscribe button and going through that process.

3. You think if you make it difficult to unsubscribe that you will stop people unsubscribing.
Not true! It only makes people flag your email as spam (as in 2. above) if they don’t want your email, rather than searching for your unsubscribe link. Best practice is to have a clearly visible and simple unsubscribe link in all your emails, and allow subscribers to simply and easily opt out and don’t give them any reason to complain.  We recommend they are in the top and the bottom of most email campaigns, and prefer a one click instant unsubscribe method on our own clients emails.

4. ‘Free’ ‘Deal’ and ‘CAPITAL’ words instantly flag your email as spam.
Not true! Certain words aren’t great for sure, but they won’t do this if they are relevant and effective in the context of your campaign. Deliverability is measured on many factors, and these combined determine the reputation. So words such as ‘deal’! and ‘free’! used well in the right context will do no harm.  These days, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) filter based on reputation, so content plays a much smaller role in that filtering decision. If you have a good reputation, it will usually override any content filter being used, and your mail will be delivered appropriately. However, that doesn’t mean that your content is never a factor in determining inbox delivery.

5. Compelling content is the best way to create engagement and retain long term subscribers.
Not true! Sending good emails and good content will make your emails welcomed and useful to your audience.  However if you send just one  email too many, or any email at all if you’re ignoring other deliverability best practices, this will affect your reputation despite having the greatest content in the world.  Also on content -  balancing ‘image to text’ by having as much of your email as possible in text, while leaving images in a supporting role, is important both to the eye and to the deliverability of your email too.

Yes there are many more things you can do to enhance your reputation and optimise your deliverability, these are just the top 5 things that you should be aware of and take into consideration.   If there is one thing we can be sure of – there’s no sure thing.

If you’d like more detail on deliverability or if you’d like to discuss concerns or ideas, give us a call any time on +64 9 360 6463.


Why is Reputation and Deliverability important? Why do you need to know about these things when you just want to send out some emails? And what do these terms mean anyway?

Reputation and Deliverability requires senders to meet strict international best practices for good reasons like anti-spam measures. You might wonder just what issues there could be around delivery. After all, you write an email, you click “send”, and the emails arrive seconds later. However when you send email that goes out to dozens, hundreds or thousands of recipients, not all of those recipients are going to get your email. And deliverability is the guy in-between acting like the bouncer at the club, and he determines who gets your email, or who doesn’t, and why.

So how do you ensure every one of your emails gets through? Appease the deliverability gods? Tip the bouncer? An easier option would be to talk to our deliverability guys who have provided the following expert advice.

1) Deliverability is strongly measured by sender reputation. And a good sender reputation starts with a dedicated IP address. We do recommend dedicated IP addresses for clients especially those who have B2C databases of more than a few thousand recipients.  This offers a number of benefits, including the ability to apply for ISP whitelisting, subscribing to ISP feedback loops, and to build your own reputation as a best practice email sender. How it works is each client is assigned an IP address configured for their exclusive use. This is not only a recommended best practice but also a requirement by many IPs such as Yahoo / Xtra for whitelisting.

Why is this important? Without a dedicated IP address a sender has no reputation and runs the risk of being blacklisted as a result of others that may share the IP that they use.

2) However deliverability is measured by much more and it’s not enough just to isolate the IP address. Domains also have their own reputation. It is also important that headers and links are configured for clients to use their own Domain.

Why is this important? This not only strengthens the banding of the email but also builds the reputation of the Domain.

3) SmartMail complies with the US CANSPAM law well as New Zealand’s Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act of 2007. And we constantly monitor any changes or new laws that might impact our senders and work closely with agencies involved in enforcement to ensure that our clients comply.

Anti-Spam filters examine content, behaviour and complaints to determine if a message is spam. These filters are completely unaware of your relationship with your customers, and as a result are often error-prone. Whitelisting is a service offered by a few Internet Providers to solve the problem of filters that incorrectly identify your messages as spam. We work with clients to achieve whitelisting approval.

Why is this important? When your IP address is whitelisted all your messages automatically by-pass the filters and get delivered into the inbox.

4) SmartMail complies with Best Practices when it comes to hygiene as a result of invalid addresses. We also seek to identify bounces that occur as a result of reputation issues or other Deliverability issues.

Why is this important? This careful monitoring allows us to assist our clients in managing their reputation and resolving issues before they result in damage to their long term reputation.

Every feature of our platform and capabilities is designed around meeting or exceeding these requirements. And as we have a team of deliverability experts right here at Jericho, if you have any queries about your deliverability, IP whitelisting, domain, reputation, or data handling, don’t hesitate to give us a shout.

As an extension of our posts in December about personalisation, we thought we would start the New Year with a focus on subject lines. New opening lines for a New Year you could say.

Some subject lines work really well, and others leave you cold. Why is that? Well that’s what we are going to explore.

1) It’s about creating intriguing, catchy subject lines that capture the recipient’s attention above all the other emails in their inbox.

2) It’s also about creating subject lines that are in keeping with your brands style and language.

3) And it’s about creating subject lines that cleverly and naturally incorporate a recipient’s name to make it really personalised.

I have recently received two campaigns which did a great job of using personalisation in the subject line, and they were really engaging and got me to open the emails and read them.

‘Amanda, have we got the deal for you!’
I thought ‘wow I better check that out just in case it really is something I will like, also I don’t want to miss out!’ I opened it of course, the deal was good, and so I thought it was a great email. You can play on people’s FOMO (Fear of missing out) – if that works for you and if it’s relevant, it’s fine.

‘Thought you’d like to see this Amanda’

I was naturally curious as to what they think I should see, so I opened it. (Well it worked didn’t it!) Inside was simply a promo about something that I wasn’t interested in, but it got me to open and read the email.

I received another email campaign that used personalisation in the subject line, but it didn’t provide me with quite the same feeling as those other two. The email came from someone I knew, and the subject line said:

‘Amanda, I owe you an apology!’
I thought, ‘Oh gosh, what for, I haven’t spoken to them in a long time! So I opened it, and saw an email that was a clever sales pitch to attend their sales seminar. I don’t open any of their emails any more.

Apart from this example I give above, some examples of not so effective personalization we have seen are:

  • Name; Do You Have a Minute?
  • Exclusive Savings for Name
  • Name – Good news and bad news
  • Hi Name
  • NAME; Save 30% for Two Days Only!

Each of these examples read like a subject line from a spammer or some such similar source. So how likely would you be to unsubscribe from emails with a subject like these? How much more likely to click ‘Spam’ would you be? How much less likely would you be to open emails from these senders again?
The general idea is about being on brand and in keeping with your brands tone and voice; it’s also about not appearing to come across as a spammer, or appear to be people who send emails with subject lines that give a less than reputable appearance. You don’t want to be sending subject lines that make people think you are a spammer. And we all know it’s wise to stay away from ‘deal’ and ‘$’ and ‘free’ and words along those lines.

My key take hope tips from this for you would be to write subject lines that:

  • Are intriguing and catchy
  • Are in keeping with your brands language, tone, style and message
  • Not trying to sell anyone anything
  • Naturally, and cleverly incorporate a recipient’s name

Do all these things, and you will have winning subject lines that will  increase open rates. And we all like that.

What is your image to text ratio?Generally, emails that fall into the spam category will contain either all text or all images. If it is the latter, it’s because they try and hide their spammy copy in images so it doesn’t get picked up by spam filters.

Click here to read our PDF that gives you a list of the top spammy words to stay away from…

Here at Jericho we are all about best practices, deliverability and improving your open rates. So a good balance of images to text is the way to go. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this, however an 80:20 ratio is always best. That means 80% of your email should be copy, and 20% images.

Click here to read the SEO Addendum on Text To Image Ratio. It very simply outlines a good text to image ratio.

The next thing to tackle once you have a good ratio of text to images, it to make sure you include alt text against all of the images in your email so that those people that don’t see the images by default can still read what the images are and get an idea of what your email is about. If your alt text is good this often gets the recipient to download the images just so they can see what you are talking about.

One main reason that we always include alt text is because so many email clients are blocking images by default now more than ever. A 2009 report from Merkle states that only 48% of email recipients see images automatically. This means that if an email campaign relies heavily on images, it’s probably not being read by over half of its intended recipients.

Campaign Moniter has a great post about image blocking in email clients -  click here to read their post.

What this all means is that you have to be prepared for the images in your campaigns to be blocked automatically when recipients receive your email. Here are some key points to prepare your email campaign against image blocking:

  1. Begin an email with HTML text or logical ALT text. We can determine what a recipient sees in the preview pane or message window. This means we can optimise what they see when they are quickly scanning through their emails, and make sure they know what your email is about, and are intrigued enough to download the images and or open the email.
  2. Use ALT text. This seems so obvious to us, and it is best practice to include alt text against all of the images in your campaign, however there are many emails that still go out without ALT text.
  3. Use captions for contextually-important images. In lieu of proper support for ALT text across the board, we can add captions to images which are vitally important to the content of an email.

As a closing note, image blocking is something that we all have to take into consideration, especially now when so many email clients do not display images by default, it’s likely that they will either not display in most preview panes, or simply get junked/deleted.

The good news is that there are both practical and highly creative approaches you can take to this issue, most of which are easy to implement. If you have a favorite technique for ensuring your message gets displayed in any inbox, we’d love to hear it.