Hidden preheader span scores 2.0 points with SpamAssassin

I was reading through Campaign Monitor's guide to preheaders recently.

Admittedly I hadn't really thought about them until I learned of their importance and the impact they have on how an email will look with and without them in the inbox.

A couple of comments in the blog post mention if the hidden span preheader technique  influences spam filters. Well with SpamAssassin the span preheader triggered the "REMOVE_BEFORE_LINK" rule on a recent test I did with an email campaign (Not within Campaign Monitor).

The template code for the related area (excluding usual boilerplate layout before and after):

<span class="preheader" style="display:none !important; font-size:1px; color:#ffffff;">Preheader text here</span>
<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
    <tr>
        <td align="center" valign="top">
            <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="600" style="width:600px;">
                <tr>
                   <td align="center" valign="top">
                           <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                            <tr>
                                <td align="center" valign="top" style="padding-top:10px;padding-bottom:10px;">Email not displaying correctly? <a href="#">Click here</a> to view this email in your web browser</td>
                            </tr>
                        </table>
                        <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                            <tr>
                                <!-- The rest of template after web version link -->
                                <td align="left" valign="top"></td>
                            </tr>
                        </table>
                   </td>
               </tr>
            </table>
        </td>
     </tr>
</table>

I just used general text content in this example, but meaningful text was used in the test email send which I ran the report on.

My first thought was maybe the font-size of 1px was an issue, but its not. It literally the presence of a span in the position its in.

Removal of the preheader span and the mentioned SpamAssassin rule isn't triggered. I could rework the position of my web version text, but has anyone come across this before?

In total my email scored 2.2 which is not classed as spam (anything 3 or higher is a concern) but obviously 2.0 points for one rule is concerning.

Any ideas?

jayc jayc, 2 years ago

I agree this is a concern. The spam rule would only be triggered if certain phrases are used in the preheader text though, wouldn't it?

What phrase did you use that might have triggered the rule? I don't suppose Apache publish a list of 'bad' phrases.

jmwhite, 2 years ago

Specific preheader text was:

"Do you keep meaning to apply to college but can't find the time?"

Perhaps a bit long, the only area I could see it being a problem would be the word apply, but other than that, I'd deem it OK.

syberpuppy, 1 year ago

What might have caused the spam score is the "color:#ffffff;". White text on white bg used to be a spam concern a few years ago, so it might be that.

Join 200,000 companies around the world that use Campaign Monitor to run email marketing campaigns that deliver results for their business.

Get started for free
1-888-533-8098