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15 Tips to avoid sending spam from your Magento 2 shop

September 26, 2017 - Stefan Wieczorek # Magento 2 spam, Magento Amazon SES

Introduction

We know how frustrating it is when emails to your customers are not arriving because they are marked as spam. There are many reasons why email gets filtered and forwarded to a spam folder.

In this tutorial, we give guidance to make sure that your Magento 2 emails get delivered. Of course, you can use this tutorial also for other applications.

What is a spam email?

Email spam, also known as junk email, is an unrequested message sent by email. A lot of spam emails contain commercial or marketing but may also include disguised links to phishing web sites or sites that are hosting malware. In other cases, spam emails may also come with malware as scripts or other executable file attachments.

From an email sender view, spam email is any email that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters into a spam folder instead of the client email inbox.

How does a spam filter work?

When an email comes in the customer's mail box, and the spam filter is enabled, the email will be checked by a list of parameters.

All parameters are the "Spam Score".

Each parameter affects the final spam rating. The decision if the email is spam or not is based on the final score. The average spam score to rate the email as spam is 6.6. If the spam score is lower than 6.6, the email will usually pass the filter and arrives in the email in box.

The goal is a lower spam score for better chances of arrival in the subscribers’ email inboxes.

1. Stay Compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act

When you are sending an email message, the primary content should comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

The following seven requirements are the CAN-SPAM Act compliance guide for business:

1. Don’t use false or misleading header information

2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines

3. Identify the message as an ad

4. Tell recipients where you’re located

5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly

7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

In case your email contains transactional content business relationship content, then you are exempted from the CAN rules. If you are exempted from CAN rules, we recommend not to include false or misleading routing information.

2. Avoid Spam Trigger Words and Phishing Phrases

A spam filter is designed to remove commercial advertisements and promotions from customers email inbox.
For this, the spam filter reacts on "trigger words and phrases."

Sadly, there is no list of spam trigger words or phrases. You should also know that it is not always the case that your email will be marked as spam by using a trigger words or phrases.

But it is a fact that you should better reduce or avoid a commercial or advertising wording in the email content.

Examples:

  • Free membership
  • Free offer
  • Free membership
  • Free grant money
  • Free Instant

3. Embed a text version of your email if you are sending formatted HTML Emails

Embedding a text version of your email is a good method to prevent for landing in the spam folder. It also helps in case the recipient cannot view HTML emails to keep your email readable.

4. Send emails only to customers who have given you the permission

It´s always a good to have the permission, for sending marketing emails to your customers. Often Magento shop owners offering a coupon code or discount for signup a newsletter. This helps to improve the customer relationship and to get higher conversion rates.

5. Use spam detecting tools before you send emails

We recommend checking your emails before sending by a spam checking service.

http://www.isnotspam.com/ provides a solid service to check your email. The following parameters will be tested:

  • SPF Check
  • Sender-ID Check
  • DomainKeys Check
  • DKIM Check
  • SpamAssassin Check

6. Check if you are Blacklisted and get off

If your server is hosted on a cloud hosting providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Engine or Microsoft Azure, it is a known problem that the used IP addresses are not trusted. Sometimes they are blacklisted.

A first step should be to check if your server is on a blacklist.

You can check the following services to prove if you are on a blacklist:

https://www.senderscore.org/blacklistlookup/

https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx

http://www.dnsstuff.com/docs/ip4r/

In case you are on a blacklist, you should follow up with the site that has added you to the blacklist. You can send a request for getting removed from the blacklist.

7. Create enough text in proportion to your images

If you are using images in your email, we recommend getting a good proportion of text and images. An unbalanced ratio between text and images elevated the risk of ending in the spam folder.

Here are some important tips if you include images in your email:

  • Do not send an image-only email
  • You should have at least a minimum of two lines of text per image
  • Optimize your images ( a great tool is "https://imageoptim.com" )
  • Create well-formed HTML for your email

8. Avoid Spam Traps

Some emails flagged by ISPs or companies, law office using email addresses which not used by human and where you don´t have an opt-in or the permission to send an email.

In a worst case, you will be sued or admonished when you are sending an email to a spam trap "email address." It can also come that you are ending in a blacklist and you are not able to send email to anyone. Of course, a combination of both is also possible.

To avoid sending an email to spam trap email address, use only email addresses where you have the permission and an opt-in.

9. Avoid large email attachments and executable files

In general, it will be no problem to send emails with a .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf as attachment.

It starts to become a problem if you are using executable attachments such as .exe, .zip, .swf, doc and many more. We recommend sending emails with executable attachments only to people who are expecting this type of content from you.

Many email providers are limited to an attachment size of 5 Mb. If you need to send a larger attachment, we recommend to upload the file first to a service and attach the link for the download.

For this, you can use services like:

You can easily upload the content and share the link for downloading the content in your email.

10. Make Sure Your DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID, and Domain Keys Are Set Up Properly

Make sure that your email server is correctly configured. These protocols (DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID, and Domain Keys) should be checked on if they are properly implemented.

You can use the service of "http://www.isnotspam.com" to make sure that all technical details are properly set up.

If you like to get more information about the protocols, you can read the following documentation:

11. Avoid Dirty Tricks

Tricks which may have been worked in 1995 are not working today!

If you practice these methods, you cause permanent damage!

  • Hashbusting: Inserting random characters in the subject line or content to trick spam filters, e.g. “Fr,e,e. p!r!z.e”
  • Deceptive Subject Lines: Starting the subject line with “Re:” or “Fwd:” to suggest a continuing communication.
  • Misleading Claims: The subject line starts with "you have won a prize," while the conditions have to be met to claim it.
  • Image Text in image: Write a text into the picture to trick spam filters.

12. Care about the From name you are sending with

Spam filters are checking more than just the sender’s IP, domain, and content.

The "From" field addresses also get a lot of attention which means you should check following things:

  • Avoid frequent changes of From field names
  • Avoid obscure From field names, such as: “36a8354z@domain.com”, “noreply@domain.com”

We recommend using clear and trustworthy From field names, such as:

  • contact@domain.com
  • news@domain.com
  • info@domain.com
  • support@domain.com

You should limit the number of verified From field names. Build a good reputation for this email addresses by sending only pleasant, solicited emails, and you will notice a strong difference in email receiving rates.

13. Monitor Your Deliverability

By adding some email addresses like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, and Hotmail, you get a simple way to monitor deliverability.

We recommend to set up approximately five mailboxes at each provider. Now you just need to send your email to the email addresses and log into each account to verify if the email was successfully delivered.

In case you notice a deliverability problem, please check again all points listed in this tutorial. If this does not solve your issue, you should contact your Email Service Provider about how to resolve the problem.

14. Avoid Purchased Lists

If you like to destroy your reputation as a sender, a purchased email list is a good way to start.

There are a lot of offers in forums where you can buy thousands of “targeted leads” as an email list. These lists are ticking time bombs! Mostly all lists are spiked with dead emails and spam traps which promptly inform mailbox providers that you violate the rules by sending unrequested emails.

If you have luck, your email just end up in a spam folder. At worst cases, you will be banned as a spammer.

Our recommendation: Do not buy any email lists!

15. Use Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES)

Amazon SES is developed by the email platform for Amazon.com to get best email delivery rates to its own customers. Because of Amazon´s growing customer base, they needed to build an email platform that is flexible, scalable, reliable, and cost-effective.

After many years of research and experience in sending emails, Amazon SES was released as service for sending and receiving email. With Amazon SES you reduce the complexity of a reliable email solution for a quarter of the price as if you do it in-house.

Setup and maintain your own email servers is outdated because it is too cost intensive. Instead of an expensive in-house solution, you can use the Amazon SES to integrate the functionality of sending emails directly to the application. Even Magento Customers will benefit from this because it ensures that your email delivery rates are perfect.

Overview about the Amazon SES Benefits

Industry-Leading Reliability

Amazon SES runs on the highly reliable Amazon Web Services infrastructure. Multiple data centers and redundant systems ensure the highest levels of availability.

Cost-Effective

Pay as you go, and pay only for what you use. There are no upfront fees, no time-consuming pricing negotiations, no fixed expenses, and no minimum charges.

Highly Scalable

Amazon SES is based on the cloud-based technology used by Amazon websites around the world to send billions of emails every year.

Optimized Inbox Placement

Custom content filtering technologies protect your sender reputation and help ensure that your messages reach your customers' inboxes.

Key-Features of AWS SES

High Deliverability

Even for Magento shop owners, it is important that all sent emails will arrive in your recipients' inboxes. Your customers need to stay informed of by transaction emails like order status, shipping or tracking information and invoices. Besides this, it is also important that your newsletter will arrive and your customers stay informed about all news.

To do so, you need the right reputation of the IP addresses that the email is sent from. The reputation of an IP address is determined primarily by historical trends.

For example: If the address has a history of sending low-quality or spammy content, it will become a weak reputation. Amazon SES keeps a solid reputation between mailbox providers by actively filtering spam and other negative content.

Authentication

When an internet service provider (ISP) receives an email, they monitor if it is an authenticated sender before they deliver the email to a recipient. Authentication means for the ISP that you are the owner of the email address you are sending from. All industry-standard authentication mechanisms are supported by Amazon SES :

Monitoring

Amazon SES provides many techniques for monitoring your email posting actions, which helps you fine-tune your email posting tactics. Amazon SES can catch information about the entire email response funnel, including the number of sends, deliveries, opens, clicks, bounces, complaints, and rejections.

Sender Reputation Management

Amazon SES includes a reputation dashboard to track problems that could affect the delivery of your emails. The dashboard tracks the overall bounce and complaint rates for your account and can inform you about important things like blacklisted domains in your emails, and reports from reputable anti-spam organizations.

You Pay Only For What You Use

With Amazon SES, there are no upfront costs and no minimum commitments. You pay as you go, and you pay only for what you use.

SES Pricing

You pay $0 for the first 62,000 emails sent per month and $0.10 per 1,000 emails sent after that. For emails with attachments, you pay $0.12 per GB attached content.