Email Deliverability Is a Problem in Sex Tech Bigger Than ‘Risky Keywords’
As legitimate emails land in the spam folder, business opportunities are falling by the wayside.
Working in sex tech comes with some hazards: An overflowing chest of toys, pornography on your work laptop—and more seriously, your emails constantly ending up in the spam folder.
Given the nature of the industry, and how unavoidable the word “sex” is, landing in spam happens to journalists, researchers, company founders, and employees alike.
Missed business opportunities
“Honestly, we have yet to figure out a perfect solution to this issue. Domains associated with an adult site are often immediately flagged and put in spam, which costs us business,” says Jen Shires from Sssh.com.
After emails from her Sssh.com account failed to deliver, Shires opted to try using her personal Gmail account for professional communications.
“When we give up our company emails and use Google, we still end up in the spam folder,” she elaborates.
“Once we had a journalist from Time Magazine emailing us back and his incoming reply that was part of a thread ended up in quarantine—which meant a lost opportunity.”
Future of Sex Editor-in-Chief Jenna Owsianik faced a similar issue accessing legal help to get a trademark for her online publication Sex For Every Body in Canada.
“This happened to me using my personal Gmail,” Owsianik says. “Having the word ‘sex’ in my trademark name made my email get flagged by [the attorney’s] system.”
Not using a company email, however, raises issues with credibility.
“We've already had imposters and scammers trying to pose as Sssh employees in the past, and other adult companies, including Playboy, have gone through this too,” says Shires.
“Unfortunately, we're resigned to looking in our spam folders daily until a more tenable solution emerges.“
Why does this happen?
According to Monica Lent, software engineer and founder of Affilimate, this issue likely isn’t specific to the adult industry.
“What's tricky is that emails related to sex tech and sexual wellness probably contain a lot of the same words that legitimately spammy emails do. I'd imagine that other industries, like gambling, crypto, and so forth have a similar issue,” says Lent.
“Even I, as someone running a startup in the affiliate marketing industry, sometimes worry that using the wrong words in my email could lead to deliverability issues.“
In 2012, Hubspot conducted an experiment to see if including the word “sex” prevents your emails from reaching the intended audience. Their findings showed that spam filters take more into account than the use of a risky keyword.
However, Hubspot’s email deliverability specialist Evan Murphy noted: “If you have a bunch of risky keywords and combine that with other issues—bounces, complaints, or a lack of engagement overall, you could see those compounding issues result in deliverability problems.”
What can you do?
Even if the term “sex” isn’t specifically triggering the spam filter, focusing on email deliverability could be the solution.
In an upcoming article, we'll share tips and resources you can use to keep your business emails in the inbox.
Image source: Torsten Dettlaff