At Outskirts Press we contact our authors quite often via email. Many authors thank us for the motivational and inspirational emails we send when they are still writing their books. Once authors begin publishing with us, we keep them up to date on their progress throughout the process via email. And once our authors have published, Diamond and Pearl packages include 2 years of marketing follow-up via the Marketing C.O.A.C.H.
So, you could say that successful email communication is a cornerstone of our business. And we’re not alone. Email marketing is one of the most successful (from an ROI point of view) promotional tactics a business can adopt. And nowadays, more companies are using email as a standard element of their customer service procedures as well.
But sending a “successful” email is not without its hurdles. Frankly, I don’t even understand all the complications, but recently we did experience an interesting example of Yahoo’s spam algorithm that I would like to share. This involved our recent email newsletter congratulating Irv Sternberg for his most recent book, The Persian Project, being recognized as our “Best Book” award winner.
The first paragraph of that email originally said this, and this is version that appeared on our blog and on our website:
“In December 2009, Outskirts Press announced a monthly promotion in which we were seeking the best manuscript to publish for the author without cost. Once published, the best book would receive a refund equal to 110% of the publishing fee. That’s right! Free publication and an “advance” of sorts, just like a traditional publishing contract (only with us, our authors still kept all their rights).
A lot of manuscripts were submitted and a lot of books were published. We reviewed the published books among all those December manuscripts and have decided upon what we feel is the best all-around publication.”
Those two paragraphs prevented the email newsletter from making it through Yahoo’s spam filter. In order to “get through” Yahoo’s spam filter, the content had to be changed to:
“In December 2009, Outskirts Press sought the best manuscript to publish for the one talented author without cost. Once published, the author of the best book would receive a refund equal to his publishing package price, plus a bit extra. That’s right! Outskirts Press picked up the publishing cost and paid an “advance” of sorts, just like a traditional publishing contract (only with us, our authors still kept all their rights).
A lot of manuscripts were submitted and a lot of books were published. We reviewed the published books among all those December manuscripts and have decided upon what we feel is the best.”
Notice the subtle differences:
- Yahoo’s spam filter wouldn’t allow us to “announce a monthly promotion” so instead we “sought the best manuscript.”
- The author couldn’t “receive a refund equal to 110% of the publishing fee” and instead he received “a refund equal to his publishing package price, plus a bit extra.”
- Strangely, we couldn’t call it the “best all-around publication” and could only refer to it as “the best.”
In a later section of the same newsletter, we referred to Mr. Sternberg as a “consummate professional, the best selling author of four award-winning novels, and a tenacious marketer.” However, in order to get through the spam filter, we had to change that summary to: “consummate professional and a tenacious marketer.”
Are there conclusions to draw from this? Certainly. Yahoo’s algorithm frowns upon verbiage used commonly in spam, such as phrases like “best selling” and “monthly promotion” and almost any number that is followed by a percentage sign (%).
Another consideration of email marketing is the daunting task of delivering an HTML formatted email with images to an email population in which the majority–most unknowingly–have image downloading turned “off.” But that’s a topic for another time…