Spam mail. How annoyed are you that a good chunk of what you receive every day is crap? Maybe you don’t have to sift through the clutter of false promos and boring marketing campaigns because you’ve got a good spam filter in place. Great––but where are all your leads? What’s happening to all your subscribers? 

Well, here’s a little something you may not know:

Sometimes leads are going to your junk mail. As an SEO company, we know from experience that people often send messages with words that get flagged as spam. That’s why we recommend checking your spam box at least once a day.

Yes, this takes time you probably don’t have. But trust us, devoting just ten minutes to scanning your junk folder is time well spent because, inevitably, you will find stuff hiding in there. It’s like looking for your glasses and discovering they’ve been on your face the whole time. It’s so obvious your brain never considered that what you’ve been looking for is right in front of your face.

The Over-Efficient Machine Vs. the Human Brain

Ninety percent of emails sent to Canadian businesses make it into the inbox (see Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report). Sounds pretty good, right? That means that your spam filters are doing what they’re supposed to do, right? They’re sorting out the junk and stashing it where it belongs so you don’t have to waste your time sorting the wheat from the chaff. 

Well, yes and no. 

As sophisticated as these algorithms are, they aren’t perfect so we can’t trust the process entirely. Spam emails may still be ending up in your inbox and viable leads getting dumped into your junk folder. Just like we suggest in Step One to SEO, your brain is your most valuable tool and an absolute necessity in a world where we’ve come to reply on machine-generated results and metrics––the dirty work is still in our hands.

Let’s take a look at what spam is and how those filters actually work. 

How Do Emails End Up in the Spam Folder?

Filtering tactics are increasing in sophistication and even the most strategically worded emails may not find their way into the inbox. 

Spam filters look mainly at sender reputation and email content. 

Sender reputation: The sender may be using an IP address that was once used to send spam so the filter understands that any email sent via that IP is useless.

Content: This is where things get a bit tricky. Understanding the meaning inside the email body despite red flags requires a sophisticated filter (ie. your brain). 

What are red flags in content?

  • Use of certain words
  • Links to non-reputable websites
  • Messages with bodies or subject lines all in CAPS

Terms are usually flagged within a certain context, not as stand alone words. The technology is so sophisticated that spam filters can detect when a predetermined spammy word is actually used in a meaningful context and will categorize it as legit. However, it’s not 100% reliable and some of your potential customers may use red-flag words without knowing it.

These spam offenses are tallied up and when a particular email meets or exceeds the spam criteria, it’s dumped in the spam bucket.

Here’s a nice little reminder for you to check your spam folder––an ear worm: k-os’s Crabbuckit, except replace ‘crab’ with ‘spam’:

No time to get down ‘cause I’m moving up…. CHECK OUT THE SPAM IN THE BUCKET

Spam filters can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. One in ten emails will end up filed as spam, which is great––if it’s spam, that is. However, that one email might be a juicy little lead and you’ll never know unless you’re regularly checking your spam folder. As spam filtering improves we can hope that we’ll reach a day when we’ll never have to venture beyond our inbox in search of leads. Until then, we need to know how certain emails end up there because although that 10% may not seem like much, even one lost lead can cost you.