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Free spam check to help email newsletters get through

Howard Lake | 7 December 2002 | News

A free service from SiteSell.com will analyse email newsletters and indicate where they might fall foul of anti-spam filters and therefore fail to reach their intended recipients.

As more charities start to use email to publish newsletters and communicate with supporters, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that such messages do not get misinterpreted as spam by corporate spam filters. Yet it is very easy to use words or a style of writing that will set off these alarms. Too many such alarms and most anti-spam filters will simply bounce or delete a message. If this is a fundraising message or email newsletter from a charity, that can be an expensive mistake.

Charities, and indeed anyone, can now test their email newsletters for free to see how they might fail an anti-spam filter test. SiteSell.com is offering a free service that uses the popular SpamAssassin programme to interpret and weed out spam messages.

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The free report indicates elements of the newsletter that have failed SpamAssassin’s analysis. Some are trivial whereas others are vital.

Tips include:

“(1.3 points) Your e-mail contains a significant amount of the following:
terms, formatting, or aggressive writing common to everyday spam.
Consider reworking.
(0.7 points) URI: URL of page called “remove”
(0.4 points) Message with extraneous Content-type:…type= header
(0.2 points) BODY: Tells you how to stop further spam”

The failures all add points to a total. If that total is higher than, for example 5.0, then it will not get through. Different organisations using SpamAssassin set their spam threshold at different levels.

The report is often a surprise. Writing in capitals for example might be standard practice in your email newsletter to indicate a headline. Yet that will lose you points in a SpamAssassin analysis.

You can use the report or several of them to help you fine-tune your writing style to ensure that your fundraising message gets through to as many people as possible.

UK Fundraising tested several charities’ email newsletters, as well as our own, using the system, with the following results:

Needless to say, we were proud to have outperformed leading charities in our very low spam rating, but we are working to reduce this figure even further.

As well as the negative elements of its reports SiteSell.com also offer some positive tips.

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