How To Use Email Marketing Without Spamming Your Readers

how to use email marketing

If you’re here, we’ll bet it’s because A) you aren’t yet sending emails out of a fear of being spammy or B) you are sending emails, but they’re being flagged as spammy.

Either way, you need some insider information on how to use email marketing without spamming. And the good news is, we’ve got you covered!

This post teaches you:

  • How to focus on adding value in your emails
  • How to send emails to the RIGHT people
  • Why hacks and tricks are a no-go (Spoiler: quality content always wins!)
  • How to write a subject line that compels and converts

It also includes the reasoning behind this unpopular opinion: why a BIG list of subscribers isn’t better than a small, ENGAGED list of subscribers.

Keep reading to become the savvy, intentional, ethical email marketing pro that we already see in you!

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Focus On Adding Value

First and foremost, if you want to create any type of engaging content that people will actually read, provide TONS of value— and do it fo’ free.

Of course, you need to make money to run your business, but if you can give your readers things for free that your competitors are making them pay for, this will set you ahead in the know, like, and trust arena.

Email in particular is a really important place to give tons of free value. Why? Because your subscribers have already trusted you with their info. They’ve taken a leap, they’ve said “yes, I want to learn from you!” They are on the A-Team. They’re also your best leads! They SO deserve to get some of your best tips and tricks, don’t you think?

While we’re on the topic of adding value, here’s a hard, tough-love lesson for you: if you’re talking to the wrong people, you will never succeed at adding value.

If you’re sharing tips for pregnant and brand-new mamas, and the people on your list only have toddlers? All that valuable information is worth exactly $0 to them.

If you’re sending out vegan recipes to a list full of carnivores? You’re wasting your breath.

And, if you’re paying to send emails to a list full of people who simply no longer engage — or even OPEN — what you send? You’re wasting your hard-earned cash.

Solution: Clean your list often! A few times a year, take your checked-out audience members through a re-engagement process by asking them honestly whether or not they still want to be part of your list. This way, you’ll only be sending emails to people who are truly interested in receiving them, and you’ll only be paying for subscribers who read and buy.

We know it sounds scary to remove hard-earned followers, but think about it: wouldn’t 100 super-engaged readers be better than 1,000 who delete your emails without opening them?

According to Opt-In Monster, cleaning your list can also help you by improving your open and click rate percentages, which means:

  • Reduced spam complaints
  • Fewer bounces
  • Better, more accurate reporting

Bottom line: Don’t be scared to shink your list! It’s an email best practice and it’s in your readers’ best interest. Take the leap!

Forget The Hacks & Shortcuts

Like you, we are all about quality content that serves people well. We’ll never recommend using gross hacks or shortcuts to get ahead or cheat the system— and we’re pretty sure you’re not looking to use those gross hacks. But, just in case anyone has ever given you bad advice about this, let us set the record straight:

Don’t Buy Lists

Never. Never. Never. We really hate the idea of buying email lists. Let us count the reasons why:

  1. Buying lists puts you in violation of consent laws. (Yikes.)
  2. Buying a list can seriously damage your business’s reputation. You can be seen as spammy, dishonest, and you can even be fined.
  3. You have zero connection to people on a purchased list, which is fertile ground for horribly irrelevant and tone-deaf future marketing.

We could go on and on, but long story short: your list should be uniquely yours. It should be made up of a few hundred or thousand people who really want to hear from you.

An engaged, consenting list is one that opens emails, engages, purchases, and stays with you. A purchased email list will simply never do what the one you build yourself can— and it may seriously, negatively affect your business and your rep in the process.

Use A Double-Opt-In

It’s all about consent! Using a double-opt-in forces subscribers to double-confirm that they do, in fact, want to hear from you via email.

Yes, it’s an extra step for them, but the benefits are major. According to Campaign Monitor, having a list of people who’ve said double-yes to hearing from you reduces the odds that your emails will land in the spam folder, protects your sender reputation, and ultimately improves engagement rates.

Don’t Hide The Unsubscribe

If someone wants to go, let them go. Anything else is just awkward. It’s like you got dumped and now you’re hiding the keys so they can’t physically leave you. Not a good look! Best to keep your head held high and let them leave while their dignity — and yours — is still intact.

On that note, when someone unsubscribes, unsubscribe them. Most platforms do this for you— so as long as you aren’t messing with those auto-features, you’ll be fine.

Move Beyond Newsletters

If you’re worried that emails feel spammy, it might be because you’re thinking about newsletters or broadcast emails: the one-and-done type of email that companies send out monthly, weekly, or in some cases (we’re looking at you, Wayfair!), daily. We want to help you flip this script (and ditch any related fear) by turning your focus more towards automated email sequences.

First thing’s first: an email sequence refers to a certain number of emails that you write at once, then schedule to automatically get sent out in order, at a cadence of your choosing.

We love email marketing automation for both readers and business owners. For you, as the owner, it’s super convenient. You can batch-create the emails, set them up once, then set it and forget it as the results continue to roll in. For your readers, automated sequences are great because they’re hyper-relevant, and they provide so much information and context. With a welcome sequence, for example, your reader can be fully “onboarded” and brought up to speed on your business and their place in it within 3 days of subscribing.

Don’t get us wrong, newsletters have their place in your business! But, being strategic with automated, intentional sequences instead of always relying on “right-now” newsletters can go a long way in setting an intentional, non-spam tone for yourself and your readers.

Akari co-founders Ally and Kira are here to help with all your email marketing needs

Beat The Spam Filter

Now that you have all the info you need to create value-packed, ethical emails, we’ll let you in on some filter-beating technical tricks!

Remember, this isn’t about “hacking” the system or tricking people into hearing from you— we’re not recommending you camouflage junky emails by using these best practices.

But, if you’ve come this far, chances are your emails are decidedly un-junky! You have great intentions and great content that can help people. We don’t want that good content you create to mistakenly end up in the spam folder! That’s where these tips come in.

Test, Test, Test

MailChimp recommends testing all of your email content before you send it out. This lets you double-check your links, track open rates to see if people are liking your stuff, and use a targeted subject line.

To do this, send your email(s) to a small portion of your audience first, see what results you get, edit, and then tweak before sending to the rest of your list.

Avoid Spammy Words

Seems obvious, right? But, it’s harder than you think! Words like “buy,” “free,” and even “sale,” and “only,” can land you in the spam folder. Check out HubSpot’s Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words to make sure you don’t get yourself ousted!

Get Added As A Contact

According to Campaign Monitor, straight up asking your subscribers to add you as a contact in their email account can help you by-pass the spam filter. As a contact, you’ll be whitelisted, which means that all of your emails will automatically go through.

This can be as simple as asking Gmail users to drag your first email to them from “Promotions” into their “Primary” folder.

Write A Compelling Subject Line

A good subject line is key! With a bad subject line, even if you do make it past the spam filter, your email is likely to get deleted without ever being opened.

What To Do

Good Example: 3 healthy pasta recipes you’ll love!

What Not To Do

  • Avoid all the spammy words we mentioned above
  • No sassy punctuation (cut. 👏 this. 👏 crap. 👏 out.)
  • Oh, and no excessive punctuation either, mmmk?!?!?!?!??!!!
  • Absolutely NO tricky, gimmicky, or untrue statements or implications. (For example, it’s not okay to start with “RE:” to make it look like you’re replying to an existing thread.)

Bad Example: RE: Your 20% Coupon. DISCOUNTS INSIDE!!!

Goodbye, Email Marketing Fears!

You now have all the tools you need to start sending those emails intentionally and confidently, like a pro. Just remember to always add value and to about who’s on the other end. And, when in doubt, ask yourself if YOU would want to receive, open, and read the email you’re about to send.

From there, trust your gut, use your brand voice, do a little testing, and hit SEND!

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And hey— at the very least, you can steal our email subject lines!

Get data-driven marketing insights and exclusive resources right to your inbox.

Don’t just market more. Market better. Get exclusive access to resources and insights that introduce you to the once-confusing world of data-backed marketing.