EmailTray Universal Smart Email Notifier

July 29, 2009

Defining Spam Fairly in the Age of Responsible Email Marketing

Filed under: Email Deliverability,Email overload,Gmail,Outlook — EmailTray @ 15:43

Although some bloggers act as if Email spam is worse than ever (and may auto-reply even to their mother that she needs to get with the program and stop emailing) there has been a very encouraging trend in the past few years in that responsible corporations are conducting thoughtful email marketing campaigns with unsubscribe links and/or immediate removal of uninterested parties from their mailing lists.

On top of this, many corporations are using email deliverability services like SuretyMail where they have to pass a strict accreditation examination showing that they follow and will follow industry best practices in not approaching people regularly with their marketing message who have not asked to be approached.

But people still click the “This is Spam” button in various email programs for email newsletters and notifications that they had *asked* to be sent and which they can easily unsubscribe from.

This really isn’t fair to the reputation of the newsletter sender. Google has shown that they partially recognize this by now offering a Gmail function that let’s you ask Google itself to unsubscribe you from a sender whom you are too lazy to take an extra 1 second to unsubscribe from yourself.

But Google’s recent announcement page showed that you have to rudely “Unsubscribe + Report as Spam” instead of just “Unsubscribe from this Sender” which would be more appropriate.

I realize that newsletter and notification senders tend to put their unsubscribe links at the bottom of their emails, but c’mon folks. As long as such senders play by best practices, there is no need to be rude and hurt their reputation for something you asked them to do. Take the extra second and go to the bottom of their email and unsubscribe (if they ask you to remember a password to do this, go ahead and report them as spammers – while remembering, however, that Twitter would actually require you to remember your password to change your notification settings).

There is another type of sender that may be hurt by enthusiastic “This is Spam” clickers: the honest salesperson or PR person who makes a one-time “cold call” Email to an obviously highly-targeted potential client or journalist/blogger on a topic (not related to a commodity product) that the sender could expect the receiver to consider timely, topical and relevant to what they do for a living.

If you believe a cold caller could reasonably expect you to respond to his or her message and not have to apologize for having sent it (apologizing signals guilt as a spammer) then it would be good protocol and good karma to simply respond to their message either positively, not respond at all if you want to think about it or write the sender to say that you will probably not have interest in any future correspondence along those lines.

In other words, don’t hit “This is Spam” if the other person clearly considered you an important contact as opposed to a statistic…and would gladly not email you a second time if you politely told them of your lack of interest at the time. You could badly hurt their email deliverability to others if you hit the spam button without giving them a chance to take you off their list and that can hurt their ability to feed their wonderful children and mother-in-law.

In the end, humans will be rude to those whom they don’t respect…but it is bad karma not to respect everyone who cold calls…approaches you with what they thought was a relevant and targeted pitch.

Enter my company’s email plug-in SenderOK…this plug-in, which will get better with popularity and use and works with Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail/Live. SenderOK will help you know if a sender email address has been spamming everyone and anyone or if they have been getting replied to and are respected by others. A measurement is displayed in a photo business card in your email header pane which shows the sender’s network power. If they’re using SenderOK, you will see their photo profile. You will know if they are serious or if they are a fly by night spammer. They will identify themselves as part of a social network.

Photo Business Card in SenderOK Email Header Pane (Outlook)

Photo Business Card in SenderOK Email Header Pane (Outlook)

The plug-in will first show you VIP emails from your friends and colleagues and those contacts you’ve written to before. It will then show you Important notices from people who are deemed serious and identifiable. If you happen to be receiving newsletters or notifications from a company we have chosen to support, they will have their authentic emails arrive showing their color corporate icon in the inbox. This provides you with a measure of anti-phishing protection. Finally, SenderOK will show you routine notices and stuff that went to your spam box but didn’t belong there, like confirmation emails that you need to click on from websites you just visited and joined.

In the near future, most business email from reputable senders will arrive with color icons indicating that the sender has passed a best practices accreditation of some sort. Black and white email will be seen as either spam or its great Aunt Martha signing onto Yahoo for the first time and writing you out of the blue. See our last blog post in the above link for more on that.

SenderOK Icons in Yahoo!Mail Authenticate Senders

SenderOK Icons in Yahoo!Mail Authenticate Senders

Many of us find that we have to go into our spam boxes and sort the good from the bad and delete things there anyway. SenderOK helps make sure you don’t have to sort when you go there. If you signed up for something like Twitter notifications and we know that company to be reputable and we support them with authentic email icons…their email will bounce out of the spam box and into the inbox (this is fun to watch) at least long enough for you to unsubscribe, initiate a rule to send the notifications to a special folder or for you to tell SenderOK that you don’t want to take the extra second to unsubscribe and please just let that email keep going to the spam box (that you will have to sort anyway).

If you’re capitalist, your idea of spam might differ from those who don’t like free business practices.

SenderOK will help you sort email and recognize true spam no matter what your idealogy.

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