Post on 29/01/2016 by L'équipe d'Eval&GO

Are you a spammer ?

 

Your response is probably “No! Of course not!” but before you close this post and go send out your questionnaire, please read the whole article.  There are rules you need to adhere to before sending out massive amounts of emails.

You do not want to end up in the junk or spam boxes of your respondents or worse blacklisted because of a simple mistake.

This article aims to explain the rules surrounding mass emailing, what exactly spamming is, and how you can avoid becoming a spammer unwittingly.

(You should also check out our second article on this subject here.)

The primordial question is: Do you have permission to send these emails?

By this we mean “Did every single person on your mailing list give you explicit permission to send them an email?” 

If the answer to this question is “No”, “Not really…”, or “Sort of” then you definitely need to stop what you’re doing and read the rest of this article.   And if your reaction was “What do you mean by explicit permission?” then you should also hold off on sending emails and keep reading. 

First, what is spam?

Spam is unsolicited email sent to a list of people. 

Let’s say you just bought a list of email addresses from some local business organization. Seems like a good idea to send these people your questionnaire concerning their needs for your awesome services, right? Well, it’s spam if you upload that list into Eval&GO and send that list an unsolicited email with your questionnaire.

It’s not spam if you take that list and write personal, one-to-one emails to each recipient asking if you can send them a questionnaire, and the content is unique for each recipient. If your immediate reaction is, “But, what if I...” then you should stop now, because you’ll probably get yourself reported for spamming.

I hear you say “But I’m not selling anything, so it’s not spam right?” Wrong. Even if you have no commercial content (which you shouldn’t because you’re sending out questionnaires anyway) your message can still be considered spam.  This is because it is how you send out your message that makes it spam.  You need explicit permission from every person you’re emailing remember?

What’s the worst that can happen? It just means my emails don’t go through right?

Wrong! 

Getting marked as a spammer has serious consequences! First of which is that Eval&GO will blacklist you and you won’t be able to email using our services and in cases of repeated offenses we have the right to block access to your account permanently.

There can also be legal consequences for your actions.  Depending on your country of origin the laws may change, but spammers have been successfully sued, found guilty, and fined throughout the world.  In the United States alone, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have successfully sued spammers for millions and millions of USD. (For our users in the US, you should become familiar with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business.) You are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations you are subject to, consult your company’s lawyer if you are ever in doubt. 

In addition to laws governing mass emailing and spam each ISP has their own rules and regulation concerning spam, you should be familiar with these as well (Yahoo , Gmail , Hotmail )

 

Here are a few “Never evers” to keep in mind when building your contact list and sending emails:

  • Never ever send emails to a purchased list!
    • Even if the list comes from a “reliable source” and the participants “opted-in” to receiving emails.
    • These “magic” lists are jam-packed with false emails, typos, emails that are out of date and so on. It’s a good way to get a lot of hard bounces and to have any emails that do get through promptly being marked as spam.
  • Never ever send emails to an unqualified list!
    • If you have explicit permission from every single contact to send them an email and you have exchanged emails with them before in other contexts, then this is a qualified list. Anything less is just asking to be reported for spamming.
    • Unqualified lists also mean that you haven’t verified the emails of every contact. You need to be sure that there are no typos, no out of date emails, and no false emails. These kinds of errors will result in hard bounces from the ISPs who host emails.  This means you’ll get an error back saying that this email doesn’t exist or couldn’t be found.  Too many of these errors will result in you being blacklisted and unable to ever send emails using our services ever again.
  • Never ever dump address books into a mailing list to send emails
    • This means that you should never ask your colleagues for all their contacts, add in all your contacts (which may include Ingrid from a middle school study group who’s email you never got around to erasing) and then create a mega list of everyone in the office’s contacts (many of which will be out of date). Sending to this kind of unqualified list is a sure way to be marked as a spammer or to get hard bounces.
  • Never ever use deceptive headers, subject lines, or from names/emails.
    • You’re sending a questionnaire, so… say so. Don’t try to put things like “Free stuff!” in the subject line just to get people to open your email.  It probably won’t make it through the spam filters and if it does then the person will either put it straight to their spam folder anyway or they’ll open it realize there is no “free stuff” and THEN mark your message as spam. 

Not only do your lists need to be qualified but the content of your emails can also affect the spam-rate of your emailing.  For more information read our second article on the subject. 

Take away:

I realize that you don’t consider yourself a spammer, but spamming isn’t about what you are or who you are it is about what you are doing when you are emailing.  Spamming often happens unwittingly and without malicious intent.  That is why I wrote this article (and in this one) – to help forewarn you and prevent it from ever happening.  Take heed of the rules and regulations mentioned in this article as well as the pitfalls to avoid, in order to become an intelligent emailer who does not get reported for spam.  

Are you a spammer? Even without meaning to be…

Your response is probably “No! Of course not!” but before you close this post and go send out your questionnaire, please read the whole article.  There are rules you need to adhere to before sending out massive amounts of emails.

You do not want to end up in the junk or spam boxes of your respondents or worse blacklisted because of a simple mistake.

This article aims to explain the role of spam filters and how to write content correctly so you can avoid becoming a spammer unwittingly.

 

What about spam filters?

Spam filters are essentially algorithms that screen emails as they come in to see if they are junk mail or not.  They look at a long list of criteria to determine whether an email is spam or not.  Every time they see one of these criteria they assign points to the email. Certain criteria get more points than others.  If your email’s total “spam score” exceeds a certain threshold, then your email goes into the spam folder.  And this spam score is different for every server, so there’s no magic score to stay under.

Even if you have a fully qualified list you still need to have a message that is not “spammy” in order to give yourself the best chances of getting through your respondents spam filters. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:

  • Using spammy phrases like “Click here now!” or “Free …”
  • Too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS IS LIKE YELLING THROUGH THE COMPUTER AT YOUR RESPONDENT!!! (Sorry about that…) This is not only bad internet etiquette, but it is also a red flag to spam filters.
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green.
  • Sending multiple tests to the same email or to multiple recipients within the same company. (That company’s email firewall assumes it is a spam attack).
  • Designing HTML email in Word and exporting the code to HTML. (That code is sloppy, and spam filters hate it.)
  • Forgetting to include your company’s address in the email. (Most regulations on emailing require businesses to include their physical address in group emailings. So forgetting this detail may be a fatal mistake.)

If you’re unsure of how to write custom messages, then simply use our ready-to-use automatic message to send out your invitations.

Eval&GO’s mailing system is highly efficient and has very low rate of emails falling into spam boxes, because we function through a white-listed server. Being white-listed means that ISPs consider emails from your server to be “clean” and not generally spam. We have less than 1 in 1000 emails that go into the spam boxes of recipients when sent to qualified lists.  So increase your chances 0.1 in 1000 by having a qualified list and a non-spammy invitation message ;)

 The reason we have a zero-spam policy is because this white-listed status is dependent on our reputation.  The more spam hits we get, the lower our reputation is.  We want to continue to provide professional email services to all our users, ensuring low rates of your legitimate emails landing in spam boxes.  For this to remain possible we need to keep our white-listed status and for this to continue to be a reality everyone in the community of users needs to respect our zero-spam policy

For more information on the subject of spam and how to avoid unwittingly becoming labeled as a spammer click here.

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