How Do You Prevent Email Marketing Becoming Spam?

May 10th, 2017 by

Spam has been the scourge of email for decades. There have been dire warnings that the prevalence of junk messages could kill off electronic mail altogether, with Kaspersky Lab reporting spam made up almost 60 per cent of global messages sent in 2016. This is well down on levels recorded in the Noughties, but it’s still unacceptably high.

The generally accepted definition of spam is an unsolicited or irrelevant message. It can involve product marketing, the distribution of malware or attempts at raising public awareness, and these unsavory associations pose a problem for companies trying to use email marketing for legitimate purposes. How do you ensure your carefully honed campaigns aren’t treated as electronic junk mail, potentially earning your domain name or IP address a place on a blocklist?

Organizations like Spamhaus monitor web traffic and add suspicious content to a DNSBL (or blocklist) that approves or bars individual IP addresses. Falling foul of a blocklist will see networks and service providers around the world refusing to accept future correspondence from these addresses. The process of re-establishing legitimacy can be fiddly and frustrating, so it’s advisable to avoid this scenario altogether.

The best way to ensure an email marketing campaign doesn’t become a spam bomb is perhaps the most obvious (yet challenging) one: don’t send messages to anyone unwilling to receive them. This means ignoring purchased or rented lists used repeatedly by other companies, or which contain loads of dead addresses that’ll be flagged as suspicious by recipient servers. It means asking existing customers to opt into future email marketing campaigns, rather than automatically subscribing them. It must also provide an easy way to unsubscribe from future mailings with a prominent click-through, not a tiny “unsubscribe here” link in a 3pt font designed to blend into the message’s background color.

Having tried to ensure every recipient might be interested, prepare content that won’t trigger alarm bells along the way. Amateurish attempts to circumvent spam filters for words like Viagra have resulted in terms like V1@gra, so the use of multiple symbols is a red flag. Price-specific words like “free” and “cheap” will also get snared in many spam folders, so avoid anything to do with cost in the Subject line of an email. Never use FW or RE in the Subject box if this is the start of a new conversation.

The algorithms used to test for junk mail are becoming adept at identifying mangled syntax, so ensure message subjects and body copy are well written. The resulting air of professionalism reassures spam filters that this is genuine email marketing material. The opposite effect can be achieved by using multiple exclamation marks, capital letters, multicolored text or strange paragraph formatting. Professionalism even relates to the outgoing email address – sales@westhost.com will be viewed more favorably than 59l35@westhost.com, for instance. Common address prefixes like “support” or “info” will be regarded as trustworthy, both by spam algorithms and by the recipients themselves.

Junk messages are often sent out en masse, so drip-feed distribution at the rate of a thousand per hour. Emails can be automatically sent in batches through the night, breaking a mailing list into bite-size chunks and preventing mass rejections at once. Similarly, always avoid distribution lists scraped from other sites, or internal databases that haven’t been revised in over a year. It might be useful to send a handful of emails out in advance, testing the major service providers like Hotmail and Gmail to ensure the content isn’t being red flagged. Returned messages should indicate the reason for their rejection, enabling corrective action to be taken before any mass mailing begins. It’s far better to get one email rejected than a thousand.

Finally, the non-verbal parts of an email also play a role. Ensure HTML coding is slick and professional, but don’t include attachments in obscure file formats. Try to keep file sizes below 30kb, and never use large images within the body of the message. These have unfavorable connotations, since text can be concealed in an image without being visible to the filters. As a result, anything comprising large graphics with little or no accompanying text will usually be deleted long before it reaches its intended recipients…

The Complete Guide on How to Stop Spam!

May 8th, 2017 by

As we all know, spam can be a big problem. It can clutter your inbox and take up precious storage space on your mail server. If you aren’t careful, you can waste a large part of your day and much of your website’s resources sorting through useless emails.

We’ve already talked about how to avoid sending spam from your website, but we haven’t discussed how to avoid being the target of it.

There are many steps you can take to avoid being the target of spammers, and lots you can do to filter Spam before it even arrives to your inbox.This article will show how to prevent being the target of spam, and how to deal with it when it does reach your inbox.

How To Avoid Being The Target Of Spammers:

 

Be cautious about where you enter your email address.

Spammers can get your email address in a variety of ways. Some websites publish email addresses or even sell them to spammers, while others may have a vulnerability that hackers can exploit to obtain email addresses.

By signing some terms of service agreements you may be allowing websites to share your email. Even though it takes time, make sure that you read any terms of service or privacy policies before entering personal information.

 

Spammers can harvest your email by scanning websites for email addresses that may have been posted in the comments or forums.

If you publish your email on a comment, social media, or even on your own public website, you may become the target of spammers. You can make your email address uscannable by writing it without symbols in fields that will be published. Instead of typing “contact@example.com” try typing “contact [at] example [dot] com.”

 

Be wary of chain emails and scams.

Chain emails used to be a prominent way of obtaining email addresses. A chain email includes a message that is intended to be forwarded to as many people as possible—things like “You will find true love if you send this email to 30 people, otherwise you will be alone your whole life.” The email addresses would then be harvested for scams. Though this method is less common today, you should still avoid forwarding emails if you are unsure of the original sender.

 

Try to choose an email address that does not include common phrases.

By combining common names or objects with numbers, spammers can effectively guess an email address and target it. If you have an email address that includes common words, phrases or names, be careful to check the sender of any email you open.

 

Do not use your email as a user name.

Though websites may not publish your email address, they may publish your username. It’s always a smart idea to pick a username that is different than your email.

 

How to deal with spam if it arrives:

 

Use an email client with automatic spam filtering.

Most email clients have some form of spam filter to deal with the onslaught of unwanted emails coming to your inbox. Gmail and outlook filters spam messages, and you may not even know it unless you check your spam folder regularly. This is handy, but don’t let it create a false sense of security. Spam can still make it through your filter.

 

Report spam when you find it.

When you find spam in your inbox, don’t just delete it. Mark it as spam so your email provider can filter future messages from that sender or even blacklist them from sending emails.

You can also report spam to the authorities by forwarding the mail to spam@uce.gov. This is the email for the Federal Trade Commission, and they investigate improper use of electronic communication. The more mail they get from a user, the more likely they are to investigate potential email abusers.

 

Use third party programs to filter spam.

You can also use third-party programs to filter spam before it even hits your inbox. Apache Spam Assassin is a free program that can be installed on a mail server and configured to filter spam before it’s even visible to the user.

 

One final piece of advice:

Whether you are sure it’s spam or not, do not reply to or interact with email from questionable sources. Doing so could infect your computer or website and leave you vulnerable to future attacks.

Securing Your Site Against Spammers

May 1st, 2014 by

Spam
Have you noticed your site getting bogged down or notice your hitting resource limits and not sure why? While there could be many causes, our support teams do occasionally find that a site has been compromised by spammers. Often, hackers will infect your site and use your server to send spam.

Preventing your server from being hacked by spammers will help it to run smoother and will keep your clients happier. Spam uses your server’s resources and create a higher load. If your server sends enough you may find yourself on a blacklist.

How do you know if your site has become a tool for spammers? You may get a warning from your ISP or an abuse report from your host. You may also find your bandwidth spiking and reaching usage limits.

Here are some tips we have gathered to help you prevent your server from sending spam:

  • Make sure your site is secure, always use strong passwords and avoid malware.
  • Exercise caution with your contact forms. Make sure they are not vulnerable to malware injections or abuse.
  • Keep things up-to-date. Scripts, plugins, CMS tools all should be updated regularly. Additionally, any old or unused scripts should be removed. As a bonus this will help keep the backend clean and easy to work with.
  • If spam becomes a problem investigate using a monitoring service to identify the issue.

Nearly 75% of email is spam. By taking the proper steps, you can protect your server and avoid contributing to the deluge.