Email Content Best Practices

Generally speaking, with all email marketing efforts (in any industry using any email vendor), on average 10-20% of all emails do not reach their intended destination. The main culprit of this statistic is SPAM filters. SPAM filters have to constantly change to keep up with new spammer tactics, but sometimes they can get a bit overzealous and block innocent and legitimate email marketers such as our Surefire users. There is no magic pill or silver bullet to solve this problem (if there was the spammers would have used it and then it wouldn’t work anymore). But there are a few best practices to keep in mind to ensure that the maximum amount of your emails reach your audience:

  • Common sense: Every single Surefire user has an email account and gets some level of SPAM email. The #1 rule to authoring emails is to make sure your emails don’t look or read like those SPAM emails that you get yourself. Some of the other rules below expand upon this a little bit. But spammers are constantly trying new things to beat the SPAM filters, and the SPAM filters are constantly changing their rules to keep up. So keeping an eye on common themes you see in SPAM emails that you get will help you be smarter about the emails you send.
  • Do not send emails that are just one big image. SPAM filters obviously cannot “read” images, thus cannot look for key SPAM words. So a common spammer tactic has been to author an entire message as one big image and just send the image. SPAM filters have caught on, so if your email has very little or no text and has one giant picture then it will likely get filtered as junk. So use more text, and fewer images.
  • Avoid using high dollar amounts: Avoid anything above 4 figures. This can be challenging if referring to a specific property sale or loan scenarios that can have values like $120,000.
  • Avoid starting your email with “Dear”. This rule that may seem a little weird, but don’t start your emails with “Dear <firstname>,” just start it with “<firstname>,” for some reason “Dear” can be bad.
  • Do not go crazy with exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Avoid poorly written HTML code: If you do any manual HTML coding (which we don’t recommend) make sure the code is clean and perfect. Poorly coded HTML will get you blocked.
  • Do not use the word “Test” in your subject line
  • Use spell check: Often times spammers will intentionally misspell words to try to trick the filters. Even an innocent spelling error can harm deliverability. So it is best practice to type out an email in Word and paste it into the email editor to ensure proper spelling on everything.


Avoid SPAM keywords.


There are some common keywords that can trigger SPAM filters. I think it is safe to assume that none of our Surefire users are promoting male enhancement pharmaceuticals or selling pornography, so we won’t even go into those keywords. But below is a list of words and phrases to avoid. Unfortunately for us, one of the red flag words is mortgage. I know it will be impossible to avoid that word altogether, and using that word in and of itself shouldn’t land you in the junk mail folder. Just keep in mind you are basically starting out with one strike against you just for being in this business. So make sure you use it sparingly in your message body because it likely shows up 2 or 3 times by default just in your company name and maybe your title. So doing things like just saying rate instead of mortgage rate will help. And if you need to use any of the below words and try to trick filters by misspelling it or putting spaces in it like m o r t g a g e you are even more likely to get filtered. Some common words/phrases to avoid are:

  • “mortgage”
  • “money back”
  • “urgent matter”
  • “affordable”
  • “apply now”
  • “act now”
  • “free”
  • “weight loss”
  • “guaranteed lowest price”
  • “special”
  • “extra income”
  • “investment”
  • “risk free”
  • “work at home”, or “work from home”
  • “winner”