Signup for our Newsletter!

Signup below to receive all of Biznet's tips and newsletters delivered right to your inbox!

Ham, Not Spam

Ham, Not Spam

“Ham, not spam!”

That may sound like a deli order, but it’s actually a description of what all email marketing professionals aspire to. In the world of email marketing, “ham” is email that is not spam; it is good email; it is helpful and nutritious.

By contrast, spam email is commercial advertising in which people didn’t give you explicit permission to contact them or that failed the spam filters test. Spam is bad email; it is junk food email.

Whether you send marketing emails yourself or enlist the help of an agency, keeping your emails out of the spam folder requires technical as well as content awareness.

Here Are The Things To Do

As a marketer your main goal is to ensure your email makes it to the right mailbox. The right mailbox, meaning not becoming spam. There are many ways to accomplish this. Please the spam filters and your marketing emails will definitely make it through to your consumers.

Things To Do:

  • Get permission from your email list
  • Monitor your sender reputation
  • Optimize content for both Internet Service Providers and your recipients.
  • Utilize a spam checking service
  • Grow your address list organically
  • Always offer an unsubscribe option
  • Stay off blacklists
  • Avoid large attachments and certain attachment types,such as: .jpg, .gif, .png and .pdf
  • Make sure your email server supports DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID, and Domain Keys
  • Check your automations
  • Include your location

Things Not To Do

  • Never use deceptive headers, from names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.
  • Always provide an unsubscribe link- must work for at least 30 days after sending.
  • Don’t send a single graphic/image
  • Don’t hide the unsubscribe/opt-out link in your campaigns.
  • Use words that are known to be on the spam list
  • Get put on the blacklist

What Are Spam Filter Tests?

Spam filters evaluate a long list of criteria to decide the “spamminess” of an email. They weigh each factor and add them up to a total spam score. This score determines whether an email will pass through the filter. If the score exceeds a certain amount, your email will get flagged as spam. Each spam filter is different. This means that an email could pass through spam filter A without issue, but get flagged by spam filter B.

Tests run by spam checking software include:

  • Header tests
  • Body phrase tests
  • Bayesian filtering or character strings that identify spam
  • Automatic address whitelist/blacklist
  • Automatic sender reputation system
  • Manual address whitelist/blacklist
  • Collaborative spam identification databases
  • DNS Blocklists, also known as “RBLs” or Realtime Blackhole Lists
  • Character sets and locales

Be Law Abiding and Spam Compliant

Most email marketers are aware of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which became a law on January 1, 2004. According to the FTC, if you violate the law, you could be fined a lot of money for each offense. That means you’ll be subject to penalties of up to $40,654 for each email address on your list, so non-compliance can be costly. Of course this is not something you want when trying to host a good reputation. Following the law isn’t difficult.

There are a variety of Spam filtering platforms you can use. Many are based upon the evaluation rules of SpamAssassin,  which is an anti-spam platform that gives email system administrators a filter to classify email and block spam. SpamAssassin uses a robust scoring framework and plug-ins to integrate a wide range of advanced heuristic and statistical analysis tests on email headers and body text including text analysis, Bayesian filtering, DNS blocklists, and collaborative filtering databases. Many commercial and third-party email clients use SpamAssassin as their underlying spam filter.

These tests are applied to email headers and content to classify email using advanced statistical methods. They are designed for easy integration into virtually any email system. That means more ham and less spam!

Email Analysis Tools

There are many third-party email checking tools available online. Two free services that we’ve used at Biznet are Mail Tester ( and IsNotSpam ( They both operate the same way: you send an email to a prescribed email address given to you by the service and your email is then run against their checking rules and given a score, along with comments about where the email failed and how to fix it. Mail Tester is a bit more visual and has a nicer user interface, while IsNotSpam provides text-based analysis, but both provide a pretty good analysis of your email.

A paid service that we have been evaluating lately is Send Forensics ( It not only analyzes an email against the many common spam rules, but it also provides a bonus in that is does an analysis of the text content of an email and identifies problem words. Send Forensics also provides an assessment of now an email will perform when sent to common email clients, such as GMail, AOL, Yahoo and other non-corporate providers.

Avoid the Indigestion of Spam

For those of you most concerned about the bottom line tab of your deli bill, here are the six things to know about making sure you meal is ham, not spam.

  • There are spam filters
  • Your reputation is important
  • Software is key
  • Organic is the best option
  • Offering a way to unsubscribe is essential
  • Large attachments are red flags

By following the proper procedures you can avoid the fines and breaking the law all while successfully reaching your designated customers. You can now ace the spam filter tests and watch your marketing efforts make you some spam-free business.

At Biznet, we are experts at helping companies troubleshoot email challenges. We offer high quality services that will ensure a lasting reputation through every type of communication. Check out our digital marketing services page to see all we can do to help you when email technicalities arise. Or give us a call at 248-560-9000.