I get a lot of email. I mean a LOT.
In addition to corresponding with my colleagues, clients and vendors, I subscribe to a ton of email newsletters, I often download eBooks and white papers and occasionally register for a webinar.
As a result, my inbox is perpetually full. The Millennials I work with get a headache seeing the number of unread messages I have; it stresses them out.
They are all about Inbox Zero. That ain’t an option for me.
As a side effect of getting so much email, I get put on a lot of lists. And that, inevitably, leads to a lot of spam. Thankfully, Gmail filters most spam emails from my view. (Google says they catch 99.9% of spam emails. ) Here’s what my spam folder looks like:
Another thing that draws spammers to me is my title, which puts me into the coveted category of being in charge of or having influence over company purchase decisions.
[Tweet “One HORRIBLE Tactic That Could Blacklist Your Email Address”]
How People Use The Spam Button
Thus, I get a lot of unsolicited sales email. Many of these do not get sent directly to my spam folder. I occasionally pay attention to them if they are relevant but I delete most of them.
I delete them rather than hitting the spam button (and that’s really what they are) because I have a little bit of sympathy for sales people and, unless the emails are completely irrelevant to my work, I may want to review what they’ve got to offer at some point.
My behavior, however, is atypical.
Most people use the spam button far more liberally. They will use it on newsletters they’ve actually subscribed to but forgotten they’ve done so. They’ll use it on emails that are simply not relevant to them at that particular time. What constitutes spam is, essentially, in the eye of the beholder.
I am more selective and judicious with the use of the spam button because I know how it works.
How Email Spam Algorithms Work
The spam button does a lot more than simply send that particular message to your junk folder. When you hit the spam button, you are also sending a signal back to your email provider’s spam algorithm.
Email providers like Microsoft, Gmail and Yahoo can mine the signals all it’s users are sending when hitting the spam button to create a reputation score for the computers and email domains that are sending the messages. If email from certain domains or the computers that send them continually get tagged as spam by recipients, the algorithm will take that into account and eventually send all email from those domains or servers directly to the junk folder.
Conversely, if email from, say, our newsletter email address Success@CreativePR.com is consistently opened by our subscribers, it will be less likely to end up as a false positive in our subscribers’ junk folder.
The Spam Button As Punishment
Though I try to be fair and judicious with my use of the spam button because I am cognizant of its consequences, there is one tactic I cannot abide and which will result in my hitting the spam button every time.
When people try to fool me into believing we have a pre-existing relationship in order to get me to open up their email.
Here’s one way sales people use this tactic: They’ll send an unsolicited email with their pitch then a week later send a “follow up” email that implies we’ve already had a conversation.
Another approach I’m seeing more frequently is by prefacing the subject line of the initial email pitch with RE:
The RE convention, of course, is placed automatically in the subject line of emails to which you reply. When you scan your inbox, then, the RE convention commands attention because we’ve become conditioned to pay attention to those emails.
But that tactic is a psychological manipulation that will soon enough be revealed as fraudulent. While it certainly is effective at getting your recipient’s attention, it will almost certainly backfire because of the negative reaction people will have to being duped.
Most people will resent that manipulation and will hit the spam button as punishment. Enough people react that way and soon enough, your email address will become useless as a marketing tool.
So, sales people, please: Stop it!
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