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
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
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
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:
Anytime you're filling out a form online and you're asked to
provide your email address, make sure you review the site's
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.
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
CLIP & SAVE guide to avoiding sp^m filters by Debbie Weil
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:
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
| 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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