Email Marketing Around Spammers
Posted by Lacey Clifton, MSEd
I know I can be a little hard on my social media students sometimes when it comes to playing by the rules, following the law, and using white-hat marketing in general, but I do it to protect them. The last thing I want to hear is that one of my students got busted for breaking an important social media or email marketing rule.
And yet some still complain: “But I see the other guys doing it!”
My cheeky nature wants to reply with the classic, “and if they jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” but I know better. Making my point in an extreme way doesn’t help the problem. The problem with email marketing is that the other guys do cheat. When we see SPAM flooding out inbox, we feel helpless. How does a local small business punch through the noise of all those spammers?
Here are a few email marketing tips to help you:
- Email at off-peak times. Most emails hit your inbox between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. and on Tuesdays. So I might schedule my email marketing for Sunday. Research shows Tuesday mornings are when most people are in their inbox, but in my own experience, I get a lot of activity on Sunday evenings. Mondays may be no good even if they aren’t email heavy because they tend to be overloaded by other tasks. But Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays I consider fair game. You’ll want to experiment with your own open rates to see what works best for your audience, but don’t be afraid to go against the stream.
- Keep your title short. I mean really short. This one is hard for me, but when I see an email that just says “summer tips” and nothing more, that negative space actually catches my eye. The spammers don’t do that very often.
- Don’t email so often. Not everyone agrees with me on this, but I find the companies that email me a lot are the ones I put in my spam filter, unsubscribe from, or just delete without reading it because, after all, I’ll get another coupon from them tomorrow. If your emails are rare, they are more valued.
- Report the SPAM. I do this and I encourage you to do the same.
- First be sure it’s SPAM. If there is an unsubscribe link in the email, use that first. Give them a chance to follow the rules.
- Forward the email to the FTC. If they do not have an unsubscribe link or continue to email you anyway, send it to the FTC first. It’s as simple as hitting the forward button and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, you won’t get much, if anything back. I used to get a long email from the FTC that informed me of my rights to sue the offending party. You and I both know I don’t have time for that. I have a social media business to run and I’m very busy. I also don’t have that kind of money to burn. But it goes on record that they violated the CAN-SPAM laws. Enough reports and action might be taken.
- The more aggressive strategy is to report them to their domain registrar. Services like GoDaddy and eNom take SPAM violations on their servers very seriously. See, those emails that I send from lacey(at)chicadita.com (never write your email into a blog, it will receive SPAM, I promise!), go through my domain server rather than gmail or yahoo. If a server gets flagged for too much SPAM by your gmail filter, other legitimate emails coming from that same server can get flagged as SPAM, too, without actually doing anything wrong. Honest businesses won’t want to use a server that has a SPAM flag on it because their clients won’t get their emails. So while it might be slightly harder to track down a domain registrar, they are much more likely to take action before the FTC gets involved. To find a domain server, go to http://www.whois.com and search the domain the email came from. You’ll get a report like this:
- Now, I didn’t blur anything out because this domain is a spammer that has been driving me crazy and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be taken down soon. Look at the “Referral URL” and the “Name Server.” Go to their website and look for something that says “Abuse” in the footer or sometimes in the header. That will give you instructions on how to report a spammer abusing their good name.
- They will either have a form online which will ask you to copy and paste the entire message (I suggest going to the message, hitting reply, and then copying EVERYTHING in the new email so that you have the date and time stamp, too), or they will give you an email address to forward the message to. Again, they are looking for an unsubscribe tool. If the email has one and you used it, leave a message that says so. They prefer it if you give the date you tried to unsubscribe.
There are many more tactics you can use for effectively getting through the SPAM with your email marketing message, but start with these basics before you take the next step.
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