We all hate Spam. And I’m not talking about the meat in a can that Hawaiians are crazy about. I’m talking about the email kind of Spam.
But what most of us hate more is when we send a legitimate email and a Spam filter picks it up and mistakenly keeps the email message out of the Inbox.
As a candidate for public office you should be using email to reach the voters, but under no circumstances do you want your emails to be falsely identified as Spam.
The best way to avoid your emails being IDed is Spam is to ensure you don’t include things that trigger the filters.
Here’s seven things you should be sure to avoid in your emails.
1. Don’t use a question mark AND an exclamation mark in the email subject line
The appearance of both of these punctuation marks will likely flat your email as Spam.
If you’re thinking of sending out a GOTV email with the subject line – Will you be voting tomorrow? Let me know! – you could be in trouble.
I actually advise leaving exclamation marks out of subject lines altogether as I think they look weird.
And don’t get cute and put in the question mark followed by the exclamation point.
You know what I’m saying?!
2. Never ask voters for an “urgent reply”
Emails that contain words and phrases like “urgent reply needed” get flagged as Spam.
I wouldn’t use this phrase anyway as it sounds a bit desperate.
Candidates should never sound desperate.
Some fundraisers might want you to use such phrases to encourage donations, but don’t do it.
Staying out of the Junk Folder is more important than an urgent reply.
3. Don’t include percentages over 100%
In politics we like to play around with big numbers, especially if they make a big point.
You’ve got to be careful when doing so with your emails.
If you want to send out one that says – Violent crime is up 135% in the last year – you could get flagged as Spam, even if it’s true.
You can use such over 100% figures in your direct mail, but keep them out of your emails.
Stick to the percentages under one hundred like Councimember’s Pay Jumps 37%
4) Don’t send your email marked as “High Importance”
Yes, the message you’re attempting to communicate to the voters is probably very important to you.
But marking it as such could get your email once again flagged as Spam.
Spammers have attempted for a very long time to get people to open their garbage by including red exclamation marks associated with “High Importance.”
Because they spoiled the party, you need to keep your highly important messages of normal importance.
Besides let the voters determine if your message is of high importance to them or not.
5. Never send mass emails from a free email provider
This will get you knocked down as a spammer faster than pretty much anything I know.
Sending hundreds if not thousands of the same email from a gmail, ymail, and so forth.
Both the email provider you’re sending from and the one receiving will immediately realize these are not personal emails.
6. Don’t start your email with “Dear Friend”
You and I both know that the salutation of “Dear Friend” is way too impersonal.
You shouldn’t use it in letters to the voters, nor in an email to them.
With the amount of data available, you should be able to personalize all of your emails to the voters.
However, when a first name is missing you might be tempted to have the default be friend.
Turns out that’s a very bad idea.
When you send an email to a real friend you don’t start off by calling them “friend.”
Spam filters are programmed to know this, so emails with the salutation of “Dear Friend” get marked as junk.
7. Avoid using terms about money
As most email scams are about separating people from their hard earned cash, any words associated with money could trip the Spam filters against you.
Including words such as money, cash, spending, investment, debt, and bankruptcy could be bad news for your email campaign.
This is really not good news for political candidates as many of them wind up discussing public finances, especially when challenging an incumbent.
The situation is even worse if you’re last name happens to be “Cash.”
Turns out that having the word cash in any part of your email address increases your chances of getting nailed as a Spammer.
Honestly, I’m not sure what you should do about that.
I don’t think you should change your name, but you may want to figure a way to keep your last name out of your email address and website domain.