Using tips from multiple websites including OptinMonster, Inside Real Estate has gathered tips and tricks that you can use to make your emails more deliverable. These are items that you can control when you are building out emails and email lists to improve your deliverability rate. Some of these items described will take some time to have an effect, but the sooner you change your email practices the more robust your lead and sphere engagement will be!
Top Reasons Emails Go to Spam
If you email your own Gmail address from your Gmail address in kvCORE, you will see an error. This is normal, and due to Google assuming that someone is trying to impersonate you.
Your 'SPF' domain records need to be updated and correct for kvCORE. This is primarily for users who have an email address domain that is different from their kvCORE website domain. (e.g. email@example.com, bob.realtycompany.com.)
You Didn’t Get Permission to Email
The #1 rule of email marketing is to get permission to email first. Never buy a list of email addresses, or you risk violating the CAN-SPAM Act and may be subject to penalties of up to $16,000.
To get permission, you’ll need an opt-in form on your site that makes it perfectly clear that your visitors are subscribing to your email list.
Accepting permissions is automatically added to your site when new contacts register.
Don’t manually add emails that you got off of business cards collected at a conference to your email list. While you may think that they would appreciate your newsletter, sending emails such as your newsletter to them violates the CAN-SPAM Act because they did not explicitly give you permission.
You can – and should! – send those leads emails, though! Follow up with a separate drip campaign or personal email designed just for those leads and give them the chance to opt-in to your newsletter.
You Have Low Engagement Rates
Top webmail providers have stated that they look at how many emails are opened and how many are deleted without being opened as a factor in their spam filtering decisions.
Therefore, if you have low open rates or read rates, your emails are at higher risk of being flagged as spam. And, let’s just say that everyone’s read rates can stand to be a little higher. The average read rate across industries was 24% in 2018.
To increase your open rates, send your emails at the right time, perfect your subject lines, segment your list, and keep your list fresh. Making your read rates better means writing better email copy.
You Have Low Mailbox Usage
In their spam filtering algorithms, mailbox providers look at the ratio of active to inactive email accounts on your list. An inactive email account is an account that hasn’t been used for a long time or is very rarely ever used.
If you are mailing to a large number of addresses that appear to be nearing abandonment, that’s a red flag to spam filters.
To prevent this, clean up your email list periodically of any subscribers who haven’t engaged with your campaigns in a while.
Your Subject Line is Misleading
As the CAN-SPAM act states, it is actually against the law to intentionally mislead someone with your subject line in order to induce them to view the message.
In a survey conducted by Litmus and Fluent, over 50% of participants stated that they have felt cheated, tricked or deceived into opening a promotional email by that email’s subject line.
Here are some examples of misleading subject lines:
Did I leave my jacket at your place? This type of subject line can be used as a trick to make it look like they know you.
RE: CURRENTLY IN OFFICE is doubly sneaky because it can be mistaken for a reply to your email or a work-related email.
Urgent – Update your information. If something says “urgent,” it had better be urgent.
Thanks for your order! It’s super poor form to use a transactional subject line if the email isn’t actually transactional.
We know what you’re thinking. “Why would anybody ever do anything like this? These are some super shady tricks.”
You’re so right. But there are also some gray areas you should avoid, too.
For instance, imagine you’ve just written 8 tips for increasing your Instagram engagement and you want to share it with your email newsletter subscribers. To get them to open the email, you consider being sly with a subject line like, “8 Reasons You Should Never Post to Social Media.” But when they open your email thinking that something just drastically changed in the social media marketing world you’re like, “Totes kidding, folks. But here are the 8 tips I ACTUALLY wanted to share with you.”
Some of your subscribers may be amused but others not so much. Is it worth the risk?
You Didn’t Include Your Physical Address
You legally must include your valid, physical address. That can be your current street address, a post office box that has been registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
If you are a small business owner and you work out of your home, you should get a P.O. box for business purposes so you don’t have to broadcast your home address.
In kvCORE, many advanced email editor templates contain a footer item that is built with placeholder information to show a physical address you can enter.
Your Subscribers Don’t Remember You
The second most common reason that emails never reach the inbox is spam complaints. In 2018, the average overall complaint rate was 0.39 percent, nearly double mailbox providers’ recommended 0.2 percent.
Every time a subscriber reports an email as spam, whether or not the email is actually spam, the complaint gets recorded by the mailbox provider. Once the complaints exceed a certain threshold, all future campaigns skip the inbox and get sent directly to the spam folder.
So why would a subscriber flag your email as spam if it isn’t spam? Well, the most likely reason is that they simply don’t remember you. Even though they gave you permission to email them, they don’t remember doing it, so they think you are sending them spam.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that the branding in your emails is memorable, and matches the branding on your website. This includes any images, colors, typography, voice, etc.
In the kvCORE advanced email editor, you can insert a 'header' that will include your agency logo and website access links:
The Agent Header item is located in 'Dynamic Content.'
If your subscribers don’t immediately remember you, you could get spam complaints, so keep that in mind.
Also, make sure to include an easily accessible “unsubscribe” link so that they can opt out if they no longer want your emails. You can insert an unsubscribe link using merge tags.
To learn more about using merge tags, click here.
No matter how valuable you think your email campaigns are, you still need to give your subscribers a way out. If you don’t, you could get spam complaints (at best), or slapped with thousands of dollars in fines.
At the bottom of your emails, include an unsubscribe link or a similar opt-out feature.
Also, when someone asks to be removed, you need to process that request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee to remove them, ask for any information other than their email address, or make them do anything other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on your website.
Never sell or transfer the email addresses of your unsubscribers to another mailing list.
You Used Spam Trigger Words
Some spam filters are triggered by certain words in the subject line or the body of the email. Some spam trigger words/phrases are:
cancel at any time
check or money order
for only ($)
free or toll-free
this is not spam
You can use ISnotSPAM, a free tool that scores your emails for deliverability and to check if they’re likely to trigger spam filters. Just send your email to the email address displayed on their website, and then click on the 'View Your Report' button. The report will show you the criteria that were evaluated, along with your score and whether you passed or failed the test. For a list of spam trigger words, check out this comprehensive list.
Your HTML Emails Don’t Follow Best Practices
If you are sending text-only emails, you don’t have to worry about this.
Inside Real Estate has tested plain text versus branded emails with the IRE email list and found that the branded emails actually get higher engagement. It's definitely a good thing to try with your own list.
However, you need to follow some best practices for sending HTML emails so they don’t get marked as spam:
Use a maximum width of 600-800 pixels. This will make them look good in most email clients.
Keep your HTML code as simple and clean as possible. If you are using a template from a reputable email service provider, you shouldn't have an issue.
Keep your image-to-text ratio low. Images are okay to include in your email marketing campaigns, but never send image-only emails with no text.
Optimize your images for email by compressing them first. Don’t use super high-resolution images or other media with a large file size.
Don’t use obscure fonts. Stick with fonts that work across platforms, like Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Times New Roman.
Optimize for mobile. Make sure your emails are readable and load quickly on mobile devices, and that your links can be pressed easily with a thumb.
How to Avoid Emails Going to Spam
Now you know all about the top reasons your emails go to spam. Next, you can review these simple steps to keep it from happening.
Step 1. Tell Subscribers to Whitelist Your Emails
When you send welcome emails to your new subscribers, tell them to whitelist your emails. This is a simple action that helps in a couple of ways. For starters, subscribers can be sure that they’ll keep receiving the emails they signed up for. Also, having more people whitelist your emails will help to increase your sender reputation, and your inbox delivery rates will be higher overall. You can get your own personalized set of whitelisting instructions from the Institute for Social Internet Public Policy for free.
Step 2. Tell Gmail Users to “Drag” Emails from Other Tabs to Primary Inbox
Even if your email didn’t go to spam, Gmail users may still have trouble finding your emails because they have been filtered into other tabs like Social or Promotions.
To prevent this, give them these instructions:
How to Drag Emails into Gmail’s Primary Inbox
First, look for the email inside the Promotions tab. Then click, drag and drop it into the Primary tab.
Next, a message will appear asking if you would like to do this for future messages from this sender. Select “Yes”.
Now, your Gmail subscribers will always receive your emails to their primary inbox.
Step 3. Teach Subscribers How to Keep Your Emails Organized in a Special Folder
Your emails are important to your subscribers, but they probably also get a lot of other emails, too. Help them to find your emails easily by teaching them how to organize your emails into a special folder. Also, remember that engagement is a big factor that can affect your inbox placement rates. Helping your subscribers keep track of all your future emails will help keep your emails out of spam for good.
Give your subscribers these instructions to help them organize emails from you:
How to Organize Emails
Create a special folder where you can archive emails after you have read them.
Don’t set up filters to automatically direct emails into these folders or you may miss something.
After you’ve finished reading an email, manually move it to the folder.
Step 4. Check Your Email Domain.
Are you using a custom domain for your email?
It's strongly recommended to use an email address that is tied to a custom domain. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email addresses using a custom domain, not only help prevent issues with spam, but also allow you to create specific email branding for you, your Team, or your brokerage.
Pro Tip: Already have a custom email address powered by Google or Outlook? Great! Just connect your email account to kvCORE.
If you don't have an email address that uses a custom domain, it's recommended to set up basic email forwarding using a 3rd party service such as MailGun, EmailForward, or PoBox.
Spam issues are more likely to occur when using a public email address, so it's discouraged to use an email address with one of the big providers:
Not sure how to check what email address you're sending from in kvCORE?
In most cases, the email address used will be the email address you login to kvCORE with. However, if your Brokerage has enabled the option to use a vanity email address (a separate email from the one you login with) and you've added one, then you can find this address in your kvCORE profile under the vanity email field.
Step 5. Check Your DNS Records For Your Custom Email Domain.
Please Note: Your custom email domain can be different than your website domain. These DNS checks should be applied to the domain tied to your email address. For example mybrokerage.net vs email@example.com.
If you're hosting your own DNS for your email address, you'll want to add an SPF record and include the following:
kvCORE uses SendGrid to power emails sent from the platform, so it's important to add this SPF record to avoid spam issues.
If InsideRE is hosting your website on a custom domain AND you're using email with the same domain, then not to worry about the SPF record! It's already been added for you!
Step 6. Add DNS Records For Your Custom Email Domain.
If you haven't added the proper DNS records for your email domain, you'll want to take the following actions.
1. Generate a DKIM record via your email service and add it to your DNS records for your custom domain. The process for this varies depending on the service powering your email. We recommend reaching out to your email service provider if any assistance is required.
2. Add the following DMARC record to your DNS records:
_dmarc CNAME -> “v=DMARC1;” “p=quarantine;”
3. Reach out to InsideRE HERE to request that a SendGrid Sender Verification record is generated for your DNS. This is what will prove to email clients that you own the domain you are sending email from.
Once generated, you'll need to add this as a CNAME record in your DNS.
Confirm with InsideRE Support that this has been done, so we can run a test to verify the update.
Need help on items 1 and 2? Here is a helpful Google article that explains how to get this setup: https://support.google.com/a/answer/174124?hl=en
Spam Filter Testing and Spam Checkers
Still worried that your emails might go to spam? If you follow all of the above tips, and you’re still having a problem with emails getting sent to spam, here are some spam checkers that you can use to test your emails for issues.
Litmus is a suite of email optimization tools that includes a spam checker. Here’s how it helps you keep emails going to spam:
Scans your emails by all the major spam filters before sending, to make sure that they pass.
Checks your reputation by looking at your IP addresses and any domain names used in your email, and checking them against known blacklists. (If any of them could affect your delivery, you’ll get a notification.)
Verifies that your email authentication, such as DKIM, DomainKeys, SenderID, and Sender Policy Framework, is set up properly.
Gives you a spam score, which advises you on why you got that score and how to improve it.
Mail-Tester is a free spam checking tool that gives you an easy-to-understand score out of 10 on a scale of spammyness. You’ll have to check each email manually, but it checks to see if you’re blacklisted, DKIM, and the quality of your message, as well as doing a SpamAssassin check.
IsNotSpam.com is a free spam checker that you can try if you don’t have the budget for Litmus.
You’ll have to check each mail manually, and it doesn’t have a comprehensive testing capability, but it will check your Sender Policy Framework, SenderID, and DKIM to make sure they are set up properly, and it will do a SpamAssassin check to score your email content.
If you have any questions or need further assistance, please reach out to Customer Support via the blue chat bubble to the right or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!