Tripping the E-Mail Spam Alarm

Today, it’s more than just the “usual suspect” keywords that are landing e-mails in the junk folder.

se-mMost of us are aware of the kinds of words that trip spam alarms and cause e-mails to be sent straight to the junk folder – or not to be delivered at all.

How about these for starters:

  • Cash
  • Congratulations
  • Discount
  • Free
  • Income
  • Make Money
  • Urgent
  • Viagra
  • $$ / $$$

But research done by MailJet, an international e-mail service provider, looked at more than 14 billion e-mail communiqués and found that a bunch of other keywords are setting off alarm bells nearly as often as terms like “Urgent” or “Viagra.”

… Especially when considering the business categories that are so active in e-mail communications — retail goods, pharmaceuticals, providers of personal services, and the like.

Some of the other terms MailJet has found to be nearly as “toxic” are these:

  • bdcstDear Friend
  • FedEx
  • Increase Sales
  • Increase Traffic
  • Internet Marketing
  • Invoice
  • Lead Generation
  • Lose Weight
  • Marketing Solutions
  • Online Degree
  • Online Pharmacy
  • Order
  • PayPal
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Sign Up
  • Trial Offer
  • Visa/Mastercard
  • Winning

… And there are more, of course – including various permutations of the words and phrases above.

The inevitable conclusion:  It’s becoming more difficult all the time to use the most common phrases in “subject” lines and “from” lines that’ll land your e-mail in someone’s inbox successfully.

And getting into the inbox just the first step, of course.  The next is motivating the recipient to actually open your e-mail and engage with it, which are additional hurdles in themselves.

What words or phrases have you found to be surprisingly problematic in getting your e-mails delivered to your customers’ inboxes?  How have you dealt with it?  Please share your experiences with other readers here.

Spam-a-lot? You Bet-a-lot.

It’s no secret that corporate inboxes are stuffed with e-mail messages that are – let’s be kind here – unneeded or unwanted. And the latest report from anti-virus software maker Symantec Corporation confirms this in spades.

The report, covering April activity, claims that unsolicited e-mail makes up nearly 91% of messages on corporate networks. And it turns out this is nothing unusual, as earlier surveys have shown that spam makes up anywhere from 80% to 95% of all e-mail volume on the Internet.

So when you look at your own inbox, you might be pleased if your spam volume isn’t that high. And probably it isn’t, because corporate spam filters are blocking a big volume of e-messages before they ever hit your own inbox.

So where is all of this spam coming from? Symantec reports that nearly 60% of it comes from botnets, which are networks of hacked computers that can do all sorts of mischief – not only e-mailing spam, but also swiping financial information or launching cyber attacks. The “worst of the worst” are donbot spammers, which are computers that are available for rent on the black market. According to Symantec, those represent more than 18% of all spam e-mail volume.

But of course, nothing stays the same for long in the cyber environment. A new, even more alarming trend is being noted with an increase of non bot-driven spam. In those cases, spammers are renting legitimate network services (usually located offshore) and blasting huge amounts of spam at large individual Internet service providers. The objective is to push as many messages as possible onto the network before the ISP’s filtering software is able to detect it.

How much of this is going on? Hundreds of thousands of messages each day, and getting greater all the time.

And if that wasn’t enough, just like flies at a Fourth of July picnic, spammers have now discovered social networks, taking over an alarming number of Facebook and Twitter accounts and phishing for user passwords. These swiped passwords are then used to spam the friends of victims with obnoxious unwanted promotional mail about various products let’s just refer to euphemistically as “personal” or “intimate.” Experts say these types of attacks are particularly effective because they can’t be filtered at a corporate firewall level, and because any such message looks like it’s been sent by a friend of the recipient.

So if you’re on any of these social networking platforms, despite their apparent safety, the watchword should still be: “Caution.”