Is Your Email on the Whitelist or Blacklist?

Whitelist is a generic name for a list of e-mail addresses or IP addresses that are considered to be spam free. Whitelists are used frequently with e-mail applications to allow users to compile lists of senders they wish to receive e-mail from. This list overrides any blacklists and spam filters and allows the e-mails to be delivered to the users inbox instead of filtered out as spam.

Conversely, a Blacklist does exactly what the name implies. Marks your email or IP address as spam and prevents your email from getting through.

So how do you ensure you don’t end up on the Blacklist? Mass email applications like Salsa, Blue State Digital, and Constant Contact are already whitelisted so rest assured if you are using one of these applications your email is already safe. If you are using Microsoft Outlook to send mass email to your members you will need to follow these tips:

Never send more than 50 emails at a time. One of the things Internet Service Providers look for to identify spam is large quantities of email (50+) being sent at once. If you absolutely have to use Outlook, set up members in groups of 50 or less and send the email to each group. Time-consuming? Yes. But better than being labeled a spammer.

Manage Your Subject Line

Subject line will be a huge determinant of your email’s ability to get into the inbox. It’s the first 35 to 50 characters of an email subject line that users see. The reality is that you should not write an email subject line that is significantly longer than that because the longer your email subject line is, the more likely it would be flagged as spam.

Remember three primary rules:

Avoid Emails that Are One Large Image: Minimize Images Overall

Emails that are one large image have a high chance of being flagged as spam. Using a large image to encompass the entire email is a frequent trick of email spammers. If the entire content of your email is in an image file, then the email spam filters have nothing to spider in terms of content and can’t figure out if your message is junk or not. We’ve all seen emails get delivered to our inbox that are one large image. However, your deliverability chances decrease if your email is one big image.

Minimize the Use of Red Fonts and Huge Headline Size Fonts

Red fonts and huge headline size fonts have also been shown to cause spam filter issues though not as frequently as many of the other issues noted here. As a general rule, it’s just a better idea to avoid using red fonts (pick an off-red color), huge headline fonts of more than sixteen pixels or a combination of both. There are plenty of design options that still give you great flexibility without using those font sizes and colors.

Final Note

Occasionally you will be contacted by staff or leaders wondering why they no longer receive your emails. Often a quick check of your email system will show that they have unsubscribed from your email list. However, they insist they did not unsubscribe. What happened? When someone forwards an email that includes an unsubscribe link, and the person who receives the forwarded email clicks the unsubscribe link, the person who forwarded the email gets unsubscribed. What do you do? If possible, add a confirmation step in unsubscribing that requires the person to enter their email address in order to unsubscribe.