13 Ways to Avoid Being Labeled an Email Spammer

Name one big "no no" to avoid in your email marketing to avoid being labeled as a spammer.

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

A. Making Unsubscribing Complicated

I don't love email blasts, but I understand why companies do it. I don't hate companies for email blasts; I hate them for newsletters that I can't unsubscribe from. Some newsletter/email blasts are so difficult to get off of, and once you do, the next day you still receive the email. Make it clear and easy to get off the list if they want to.
- John Meyer,

A. Emailing Disinterested Leads

The best way to avoid being labeled as a spammer is actually providing value to the person you're emailing, so make sure you have a good reason to be contacting them. Practice good list hygiene by removing subscribers who haven't recently read your content, and get them to double "opt-in" by confirming their e-mail address at the point during registration.
- Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.

A. Speaking Generally

It's a dead giveaway when you receive an email that looks like it could be directed to you, your 85-year-old neighbor or your dog. To keep your readers away from the unsubscribe-because-it's-spam link, you need to eliminate the general verbiage. Instead, sculpt the copy so it can directly resonate with the individual. You should be using these emails to target a specific audience anyway.
- Adam Callinan, BottleKeeper

A. Using Deceptive Subject Lines

2013-10-10-TrevorSummers.jpgRead "Permission Marketing" by Seth Godin. Someone gave you permission to add your email to their cluttered inbox. Ask yourself: Are you adding value? Are you a trusted communicator? Too often, I see tricky headlines such as "urgent" things that aren't really urgent. These are clever little rouses to get me to open your email, but when the lie is inevitably revealed, you lose my trust. The open rate went up, but you lost me forever.
- Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

A. Buying, Renting or Scraping Email Lists

It's against MailChimp's terms of use to import any third-party lists that are bought, rented or scraped. There's a good reason why: People hate unsolicited email. There's no quicker way to get your email and domain labeled as spam than sending unsolicited email to people you don't know.
- Brett Farmiloe, Internet Marketing Agency

A. Using Spammy Keywords in Your Subject Lines

2013-10-10-TimJahn.jpgIf you use spammy keywords in your email's subject line, it's sure to either be marked as spam by your customers or thrown into a spam folder by their email service. For examples of spammy keywords to avoid, just look at any of the subject lines of emails currently in your spam folder.
- Tim Jahn, matchist

A. Emailing Closed Accounts

2013-10-10-adamlieb.jpgOne surefire way to get yourself on a blacklist is to continuously email closed email accounts or ones that "bounce." If your email bounces, then remove that person from your list.
- Adam Lieb, Duxter

A. Using Cheesy Jargon

2013-10-10-MarenHogan.jpgNo one wants to read, "Try this fantastic new product today!" It's so cheesy! In fact, most people are annoyed when they see something like that in their inbox. Be real with your words, and consider what would catch your eye. Yes, the ShamWow guy sold a lot of stuff, but you're not him.
- Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

A. Using Words Like 'Free,' 'Discount,' 'Money' or 'Buy'

2013-10-10-NatalieMcNeil.jpgThese are all words that should be kept out of your email subject lines, as well as your body copy. Using these words can land your emails in people's spam folders and prevent future messages from being delivered. Focus on delivering value in each email you send, and direct readers to another page where special offers can be explained.
- Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

A. Being Spammy

2013-10-10-maryellenslayter.jpgIf you don't want to be labeled a spammer, then don't be a spammer. The only people who should be on your email list are people who have actively consented to receive email updates from you. It's also important that you consistently offer information that is valuable to your target audience -- not just sales pitches. Strive for an 80/20 ratio of editorial versus sales copy in every issue.
- Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital

A. Sending Emails Just Because You Can

2013-10-10-FabianKaempfer.jpgIt's simple: Don't spam people. Just because you can email someone doesn't mean you should. Focus on opt-ins and the quality of your list versus the quantity.
- Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

A. Using All Capital Letters in the Subject Line

2013-10-10-SarahSchupp.jpgPeople are really turned off by seeing words like, "FREE," "URGENT," "30-DAY TRIAL" and "SPECIAL OFFER" in the subject line. Besides being bad mannered, if the email is actually opened, the perception is that they're trying to sell you something. Establish value in your subject line. Don't turn them off before they've even read what you have to offer.
- Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent

A. Neglecting to Proofread

2013-10-10-JessePujji.jpgWhen I receive emails with major spelling or grammar errors, I immediately assume that it's spam. It's important to be professional in all aspects of your email marketing, so make sure you proofread.
- Jesse Pujji, Ampush