Spam email, AKA junk email, is an email sent without explicit consent from the recipient. Spam emails usually try to sell questionable goods or are downright deceitful. It is a dark side of email marketing. Since the 1990s, spam email has been becoming more advanced phenomenon in terms of the outreach and technical solutions for bypassing restrictions.

What is the purpose of spam email?

The main idea of spam is getting money. Mass email sending is cheap and easy compared with letters. Near 250 billion emails sent per day globally, and 45% of them is spam. Even though the conversion is very low — one reply to 12,500,00 spam emails sent, according to TechRadar — it is still worth a while.

In most cases, spammers disguise unwanted emails under the mask of promotions offering something from “ultimate diet drug” to “100% working remedy for men’s health”. Aside from commercials, the most popular types of spam include adult content and emails promising financial independence by following simple instructions.

According to the Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO), most of the world’s spam activity goes from about a hundred of so-called “spam gangs” operating mainly from the USA, Russian Federation, and China.

Why do I get spam emails?

  • Your email was exposed during a data leakage. It is the main reason behind spam email spreading, which happens even to the large organizations like Adobe, LinkedIn, Last.FM. It is a security threat because it may include names, passwords, and email addresses. Spammers use this data for illegal activities knowing that the majority of emails are active.
  • Your email was harvested by a specialized tool. If you ever published your email address on the internet, spammers may steal it using tools for crawling the internet for an @ symbol which is mostly used at the beginning of the email domain — for example, bob_behappy@mail.com.
  • Your email was stolen from someone’s contact list. If spammers figure out an email address and password of your friend, they scan the contact list to get new addresses and send more spam.
  • Your email was randomly generated. Cybercriminals combine common user names with popular domain names like @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. They send spam emails to all generated email addresses, and if the email was delivered and opened, it signals that the email address is real.
  • Your email was sold by untrustworthy company. Some dirty players on the email market sell their mailing list to spammers.

Spam vs. phishing

Phishing is an advanced type of spam email. Thieves disguise themselves as well-known brands with a good reputation to get sensitive data like users’ names, passwords, credit cards, bank account, etc. They usually frighten or excite users leading them to a fake website where the cheated people part with money.

Meanwhile, spam is a mass copy sent to many people at once mainly in an attempt to sell dubious products like revolutionary remedies, get-rich-quick schemes, etc. It is not as sophisticated as phishing, and it doesn’t require a rich technical background.

How do I stop spam email?

Though email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. are armed with spam filters to ensure your safety, it might be not enough, so here’s what you can do to reduce spam:

  1. Mark suspicious email as spam. By doing so, you avoid interacting with the dangerous email. At the same time, you tell the spam filters that emails like the marked one are unsolicited. Further emails from that sender will automatically land in the spam folder.
  2. Never publish your email address on websites. It is effortless to find email addresses on the internet. Simply googling “gmail.com.” may be enough to find thousands of addresses.
  3. Do not open spam email. When you open a spam email, which you shouldn’t do, spammers realize that the address is valid. Expect more spam in your inbox.
  4. Do not give an email address to unknown companies. Sharing your data with strangers is a bad idea since the least they can do is selling their mailing list to spammers.
  5. Customize ESP’s filters. Create your filters to block messages that include particular words or phrases, limit the size of the incoming messages, block specific domain addresses or emails with the attachments. Here’s how to do it in Gmail.

Are there any spam laws?

The attitude towards spamming differs from country to country. Let’s check out the most popular laws introduced to fight against spam activities by country:

United States CAN-SPAM Act
The United Kingdom Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
Canada Anti Spam Regulation
Australia Spam Act 2003
European Union Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive

What does the law require from legitimate email senders? CAN-SPAM act, for instance, demands from companies to opt-in users, add visible and working opt-out mechanism in each email, use subject lines relevant to the content inside of an email, and show a legitimate physical address of the sender’s company.

Despite the existing law regulations against spam, the United States holds the first place in regards to the number of spam email operations. Spamhaus, a non-profit organization tracking email spammers, claims that seven from ten worst spammers in the world are located in the United States and other three — in Eastern Europe.

How to stop my emails from being marked as spam?

If you send bulk email for promoting your business, spam box is the worst place for your email. Follow these best practices to stay away from spam filters:

  1. Take care of your sender reputation. Sender reputation is a score assigned to the sender based on the quality of email campaigns, their frequency, volume, and user interaction. Avoid sending too many emails too often because it gives a negative signal to ESP filters, and your further emails will be considered as spam.
  2. Use proper authentication instruments. Make sure the bulk email service you use passes authentication properly with DKIM and SPF checks. SendPulse provides users with an reliable SMTP server ensuring your emails will get to the subscribers’ inbox.
  3. Check emails for spam. Use email spam checkers — the tools that enable you to predict the reaction of most popular ESPs to your email, get feedback about it, and make changes before actually sending.
  4. Work on a high open rate. A subject line mainly forms the open rate, so make it engaging, intriguing, and what’s more critical — relevant to the content of the email. Email campaigns with a high open rate indicate that subscribers like your emails, which ensures good email deliverability.
  5. Make relevant content. Send relevant newsletters and promotions with the help of personalization and segmentation. Divide your audience into groups with something in common like age, gender, location, and add more value to your emails.
  6. Opt-in users. The law requires to send email only to users who willingly provided you with their email addresses. Use a double opt-in method to ensure the subscribers are engaged people, who will less likely mark your email as spam.
  7. Use a realiable bulk email service. Usually, when sending bulk emails with your own servers, you have to take care about managing the infrastructure and the reputation of your server. Bulk email service takes this grunt work from you. SendPulse sure does!

If you want to be an email sender with a high reputation, read this blog article and learn how to prevent landing in spam.

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