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Passing the Email Test

People have taken drastic measures to protect their inboxes from unwanted email. Spam filters - programs that scan incoming email, and block the junk - have become very good at keeping spam at bay.

Unfortunately, overzealous spam filters can also block email that isn't junk. For anyone who is using email to market their services, that can be bad news.

How do you make sure an email won't be mistaken for spam and sent straight to the junk folder? By writing them carefully.

The Four-Letter Word To Avoid - and a Few Others

Anyone who has ever worked in sales knows that "Free" is one of the most powerful words you can use to grab a prospect's interest. But avoid it when writing email - it's a red flag for spam filters.

If you want a message to make it to the prospect's inbox, never use "Free" in the subject line of an email. As tempting as it might be to write "Here's The Free Quote You Requested," a message with that subject line is likely to get blocked.

This applies to the body of the email, too. Some who feel brave might try sneaking it in - once. Most spam filters work on a point system, so one instance of the word doesn't mean that a message will automatically get junked.

Some email marketers also write "Fr*ee" or "F`ree" in an attempt to trick spam filters. This is a bad idea for two reasons:

  • Spam filters are getting better all the time, and may pick up on this trick.
  • It detracts from your credibility. At best, it looks like an unprofessional typo. At worst, it looks like you're a spammer.

Email deliverability experts also recommend to avoid using "click here" and "call now". Any mention of prescription drugs is a bad idea, too.

And saying "This message is not spam"? Every spammer says that - so you shouldn't.

Watch Punctuation - and the Caps Lock Key

Even if you're sending out the best offer in the history of insurance, don't write like you're too excited about it. A phrase like:

          "I've found you the most affordable rates you've ever seen!!!!!"

can get an email sent straight to the junk folder. The prospect's spam filter takes one look at all those exclamation points and stops the email message dead in its tracks.

In general, avoid the exclamation point entirely. Not only does it cause trouble with deliverability of emails, but it's so overused in marketing writing that it has become practically meaningless.

When writing an email message, never WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Does it get people's attention? Sometimes. Does it look like spam? Absolutely. What's more, many people consider it rude - it's the online equivalent of shouting.

The Best Bet? Be Professional

The best rule of thumb to follow is this: write like a professional. Think of the last business letter you wrote. Now apply that to writing an email. Does that mean you have to be stiff and boring? Not at all.

The temptation to stand out in a crowded inbox is huge. But exclamation points, capital letters, and putting the word "Free" all over an email message won't sell any policies.

Want to learn more about email writing and marketing?

There are several great resources online to help insurance agents write quality email. Here are a few of our favorites:


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