You’ve gotten it; I’ve gotten it. It’s almost impossible to use your email address online and not get spam. Spam first became a problem in the 1990s and has grown since. Spam emails now comprise 80-90% of all email on the internet.
In 2003, congress passed the CAN-SPAM act, which set a set of rules for mass emailers to follow. While the act hasn’t been effective in decreasing spam, it has allowed ISPs to sue spammers.
From a spammer’s view, spam can be very effective. Spammers can send out hundreds of thousands of emails with a click of a button. If even 1 in a million buy their product, they’re making an easy profit. That’s the key to stopping spam. If people didn’t click on the link and buy the product, spammers wouldn’t have a reason to send spam email.
But how did they get your email address? One way is brute force; spammer simply put letters and dictionary words together. A more effective way (for them) is finding email addresses on websites. This could be the listed email address on your website or the email in your profile of a forum you frequent. Spammers buy email lists to and unscrupulous companies that you signed up for or bought something from.
Most email accounts come with filtering services, which block and quarantine up to 95% of spam messages. Vivid Image uses Postini, a well-recognized anti-spam filtering service. As good as some spam filtering services are, there is no service that will block 100% of spam.
Until the day spam is no more, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of spam.
- Don’t buy anything from an unsolicited email, even if it’s something you want. Most spam emails are a scam and even if they aren’t, you’d be encouraging spam by purchasing it.
- Don’t click any links, including unsubscribe. If the spammers know your email address is a valid address, they will be more likely to spam it again. This doesn’t include valid newsletters you signed up for. Unsubscribing does work for legitimate sources, so use your discretion.
- Do acquire different email addresses for different purposes. For example, you could have one email address for family and friends, one for forums and newsletter subscriptions, and another for purchasing and orders. This way you won’t have to filter through spam to find Aunt Carol’s monthly update.
If you or your company send mass emails, it’s important to follow email best practices to make sure your email is not marked as spam by the recipients.
- Use a opt-in method, or even a double opt-in method. This means that a recipient signed up to receive your emails and for double opt-in, that you verified that they subscribed and it wasn’t one of their friends signing them up.
- Provide an unsubscribe link or procedure. If a recipient can unsubscribe, they’re less likely to mark your email as spam.
- Clearly state how many emails the recipient will receive. If they sign up to receive your monthly newsletter, they may not be very happy if they suddenly start receiving your daily special.
- Include the physical address and contact information of your company. This makes your email appear more valid and allows a recipient to contact you through other means.
The spam war constantly wages as spammers find new ways to send spam and filtering services find ways to protect against them. Spammers aren’t just harvesting email addresses from websites anymore; they’re also filling in forms with spam. If you have a website with an email form on it, you may have noticed that you’re getting spam through it.
Right now, spam is a worsening problem. While you can’t quite eliminate spam, you can reduce it by having a good anti-spam filter, following some tips, and using common sense. Vivid Image is always here to help, so contact us with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (320) 587-8974