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ONLINE BUSINESS HELP

Sp^m -- How Much Will it Cost Your Business?
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-08-09

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    Sp^m -- How Much Will it Cost Your Business?
    by Shelley Lowery

    According to a recent study conducted by Ferris Research, a
    market and technology research firm specializing in
    messaging and collaboration, Sp^m will cost U.S. businesses
    over $10 billion in 2003.

    Sp^m not only clogs our servers and in-boxes, but it also
    costs us hours and hours of lost time in productivity.

    Although the estimated cost of Sp^m focuses mainly on lost
    productivity, this picture may be much broader than you
    realize.

    Some of the more popular email providers, such as AOL
    (America Online), Yahoo! and Hotmail, are now utilizing
    filters to cut down on Sp^m. These filters are dumping Sp^m
    and/or bulk mailings into a separate location. Although this
    may cut down on Sp^m in your in-box, these filters are also
    dumping some legitimate email messages.

    What's more, some hosting services not only filter the email
    messages, but they're also blocking entire hosting
    companies. For example, the blocking host may have gotten
    some Sp^m complaints about a few marketers that host with
    ABC hosting company. (Keep in mind, ABC hosting company may
    host thousands of sites.) Rather than block the offending
    marketers, the blocking host decides to blacklist the entire
    ABC host.

    What this means is if you try to contact someone and their
    hosting company has blacklisted your host, your email will
    not go through -- it will bounce right back to you.

    If you suspect you may not be receiving all of your email,
    contact your host and ask them if they're using Sp^m filters
    or have blocked entire hosting companies.

    How Much Will Sp^m Cost Your Business?

    How much time do you spend sorting through the Sp^m in your
    email each day? Add it up sometime -- I'll bet you'll find
    you spend a lot more time than you even realized -- time
    that could have been spent on your business.

    If you're publishing an ezine or sending out any form of
    opt-in mailings, how many subscribers are actually receiving
    your mailings? Most-likely, not nearly as many subscribers
    as you may think. How many lost sales has this cost you?

    How many messages, such as information requests, customer
    support requests, etc., have you not received due to
    filtering?

    How many messages have you replied to that your customers or
    potential customers have never received due to filtering?

    As customer service says a lot about your business
    practices, how many customers will you lose?

    The list goes on and on. But the point is this, Sp^m is
    costing you dearly.

    Protecting Your Email Address

    So how can you defend yourself? Well, it depends on which
    side you're on -- how to protect yourself, and/or how to
    make sure your messages are getting through.

    In order to protect yourself against Sp^m, you first need to
    understand how your email address is obtained.

    There are many unethical businesses online that collect and
    sell email addresses. They use robots that travel from link
    to link in search of email addresses. Their customers are
    led to believe that these email addresses belong to
    individuals who want to receive mailings. However, much of
    the time, this isn't the case.

    Never purchase a list of email addresses from anyone other
    than a reputable company. The only company I can recommend
    is Post Master Direct. http://www.postmasterdirect.com

    To protect your email address from these robots, instead of
    displaying your address on your site, use a feedback form.
    Not just any type of form, but a form that doesn't display
    your email address within the hidden form fields. The only
    form I can recommend is Master Feedback. You can pick up a
    free copy here:
    http://willmaster.com/master/feedback/index.shtml

    Anytime you're filling out a form online and you're asked to
    provide your email address, make sure you review the site's
    "Privacy Policy" to ensure that your email address will not
    be sold or shared with a third party.

    Protecting Your In-box

    To protect your in-box, you can use a Sp^m filtering
    software program. Although there are several available
    online, the best one I've found is Mail Washer. This program
    will enable you to view all the email on your server without
    actually downloading it into your email program. Once you've
    reviewed your messages, you can create filters and bounce
    the Sp^m messages back to the sender. Although you can pick
    up the program free, consider supporting the developer and
    register the software for a small fee.
    http://www.mailwasher.net

    Avoiding the Sp^m Filters

    If you're sending out a mailing to an opt-in list, there are
    a few steps you can take to make sure your message won't
    trip the Sp^m filters:

    1) Avoid using trigger words, such as Sp^m, fr*e, r*move,
    etc. Although the list is far too broad to list here, you
    can learn more by reading the following articles:

    Sp^m Filters Run-Amuck by Timothy A. Gross
    http://www.iprofitsystems.com/articles/spamfilters.html

    CLIP & SAVE guide to avoiding sp^m filters by Debbie Weil
    http://www.imakenews.com/wordbiz/e_article000094161.cfm

    2) Avoid using JavaScript within your messages.

    3) Avoid using "bad" words.

    If you'd like to ensure your messages are getting through,
    consider opening email accounts with the popular providers.
    You can send your mailings to these accounts and monitor
    their reception. If your mailings land in the dump, you can
    make some adjustments or even contact the company.

    If you would like to test your outgoing email messages to
    ensure they won't trigger a Sp^m filter, Ken Evoy offers a
    great service called Sp^mCheck. This free service will
    enable you to send a copy of your publication, or any email
    message, to a specific address and it will return a report
    of possible words that will trigger the Sp^m filters.

    Send your publication including the subject and body to:
    mailto:spamcheck-websource@sitesell.net

    Conclusion

    The Sp^m problem continues to get progressively worse.
    Although there isn't a simple solution to the problem, the
    information provided in this article should assist you in
    not only avoiding Sp^m, but also avoiding the filters for
    your legitimate mailings.

    It's really a shame we're even in this position. However, we
    cannot allow Sp^m to continue to infiltrate our businesses.
    We must take the necessary steps to ensure our success.

    Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2003. All Rights Reserved

    About the Author:

    Shelley Lowery is the author of several successful ebooks
    including Web Design Mastery - An in-depth guide to
    professional web design. Ebook Starter - A Complete Ebook
    Design Kit, and eZines: A Complete Guide to Publishing for
    Profit. Subscribe to Etips and receive a free copy of her
    highly acclaimed ebook, "Killer Internet Marketing
    Strategies." http://www.web-source.net



    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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