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115 – Control spam coming and going: Tom talks Spam Control
From:
Tom Antion -- Internet Marketing Expert Tom Antion -- Internet Marketing Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Virginia Beach , VA
Monday, April 15, 2019

 

Episode 115 Spam Control this is critical to your success in business and there’s three types I’ll cover today. We’ll also have a brief visit from David Riklan the owner of one of the most prolific sites on the Internet SelfGrowth.com to give us some of his tips on getting more of your marketing emails through the spam filters.

Last Episode. 114 David Garfinkel He’s one of the most prolific copywriting coaches in the Universe and if you have been listening to me for a while you know I’ve identified copywriting as the most important business skill I’ve every acquired. Check out his episode later and then check out https://www.Copywriting901.com to check out my powerful course on that subject.

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Main Event
Spam control. So, where did the term spam come from? Most people say it came from a sketch from Monty Python where in one of their comedy sketches a waitress was reading out a menu where every item includes Spam the luncheon meat.
There are three different kinds of spam I’m going to discuss on this episode. 1. Keeping out of spam filters when you send broadcast email, Email still the biggest moneymaker so it behooves you to get the darn things delivered. 2. Reducing spam coming to your email inbox, however in some cases I’m going to encourage you to get more spam. YIKES! I know that freaks you out, but when you see what I mean, you’ll understand that what I’m proposing is a good thing and 3. Dealing with spam comments on your blog. Many people don’t even realize this. They tell me all the time how many nice comments they get. When I see the comments, they are all generic like, “You’re doing a great job on this blog. Keep up the good work and I’ll be coming back frequently.” Or some BS like that. If it’s not something exactly specific to what you were talking about, it’s SPAM!
Keeping Your Broadcast Email Out of Spam Filters
You know how I feel about email. This is still where the big money is and all the other stuff like social media and YouTube in my not so humble opinion should be used to get people off those platforms and on to your email list. I tried to figure out a very conservative estimate of how many broadcast emails I’ve sent out since I’ve been on the Internet. I came up with 125 million which sounds like a lot, but I know people who has sent out several billion. I guess I’m just a beginner LOL
I’ll take you back a little bit here. In the beginning that was the mid 90’s I could send stuff out and pretty much everyone would get it. That didn’t last long as spammers came out of the woodwork like the roaches they are. Legitimate marketers had to pay closer attention to what they sent out so the emails wouldn’t get caught in the emerging field of spam filtering.
So, what is a Spam filters? A spam filter is a program that is supposed to detect unwanted and unsolicited emails and keep them from getting to you.. ... They don’t really work that great because many times they let the bad emails through and filter out the good emails. When they filter out the good ones this is called a “false positive and that sucks for a legitimate marketer.
Also, many of the big email companies (especially the free ones) screw you over too. Of course, they’re never going to admit to what I’m going to tell you right now. Let’s say one of the big providers has a meeting and the tech guys say they need a million dollars to buy more email server computers because the spam volume has gone up 40%. The executives in the meeting ask the tech guys, “What are our alternatives?” The tech guys say, “Well we could tighten the screws on the spam filters rejecting an additional 40% of the incoming email suspected to be spam.” The executives ask, “How much will that cost?” The tech guys say, “Nothing”. The executives say, “Great! Let’s do that.”
Of course, a great deal of legitimate emails will get caught now in those spam filters and the execs don’t really care about you and your declining sales.
Obviously, what those companies do is mostly out of your control, however you could complain as a user (not a publisher because they don’t like you) that the emails you want to get aren’t getting through. I think your time would be better spent improving your own broadcast emails that trying to form a grass roots coalition against a big email provider. Anyway, let’s talk about some of the things you need to do to get a higher percentage of your emails getting through those pesky filters.
Bounces
One thing you have to address and keep track of is your “bounces”. This is where an email was not deliverable for some reason. There are two types of bounces. Hard bounces and soft bounces. A hard bounce means the email isn’t deliverable now or in the future. The address is bad or doesn’t exist is usually the reason you get a hard bounce. I’ll throw this in there too. Sometimes your emails just go into a black hole and nobody knows what happens to them. So that’s also a factor. A soft bounce means the email got all the way to the recipient but didn’t make it all the way to the inbox. Maybe the person is on vacation and their inbox is full or maybe there was a temporary glitch in the recipient’s email system. This means that if the person cleans up their inbox the next email you send them would now get through. Or if the temporary glitch disappears or is fixed the next email you send them will get through.
You want to delete email addresses from your list that hard bounce right away because they are never going to magically turn into good and deliverable email addresses in the future. The reason you want to get these addresses off your list is because the email Gods are watching. If you continually send emails that don’t get through, you look like a spammer. You may not be, but that’s what it looks like to the email Gods and then they strike your list with a lightning bolt and less and less of your good emails get through.
Soft bounces are a different story. You don’t want to delete a person just because they got busy or went on vacation and their email box got full. As soon as they clean up their inbox a little your future emails will start getting through again. The question is how many times will you allow a soft bounce before you delete the address from your list. There’s no answer to that question. I tend to leave them on maybe longer than I should because in many cases somebody that new me from the old days and just hasn’t been active much online will out of nowhere buy something or join a big program of mine from an email promotion of mine. So, I’m a little reluctant to remove people too soon. However, if you have lots of soft bounces that go on forever, remember the email Gods are watching and they’ll again start thinking of you as a spammer.
Many broadcast email service providers have their own rules about how many soft bounces they’ll allow before they refuse to send to that address anymore. Some services let you set your own numbers. Just know that you must pay attention to this so you don’t look like a spammer.
Spam Triggers
Even more importantly than bounces is what you write in your emails and how you write it. One rule of thumb I live by is that the longer your email, the more chance you will have of triggering a spam filter even if you are totally innocent. The trend nowadays is shorter emails leading to a webpage.
OK. Back to spam triggers. There are words and phrases and formatting techniques you want to avoid in both your subject line and body of your email. And there are literally TONS of them. I’ll give you a few obvious ones here, but if you Google the term “Spam Triggers” you’ll find thousands of words and phrases that might seem innocent to you, but to a spam filter that sees a billion emails an hour, looks like spam.
“Be your own boss”, “work from home”, “mortgage rates”, “weight loss” are a few obvious ones, but when you start looking at the spam trigger lists, you’ll see tons you are probably using that are most likely hurting you by killing your delivery rates.
OK those were words. Also, avoid using ALL CAPS, Lots of dollar signs ($), bunches of exclamation points in a row, etc. These just scream “commercial email”.
This seems like a lot of work to police every word you say in an email. I would agree with you if you do it all by hand. That’s just one of the reasons it’s worth it or purchase good quality tools. What sense does it make to kill yourself creating a product or locating an affiliate product, writing sales copy, sending it out and the emails don’t get through? You make nothing for all your work. You MUST pay attention to this.
The tool we use is part of my shopping cart system called http://www.KickStartCart.com It’s called a system because everything is coordinated in the system. You’re shopping cart, affiliate program, upselling modules and a ton of stuff including your broadcast email and autoresponder system. As part of the broadcast email and autoresponder system they have a service called “Spam Assassin” built right in. You compose your email and click a button. Spam Assassin evaluates your email and tells you what looks like spam BEFORE you send it out. This gives you a chance to fix whatever is wrong before a spam filter sees it. Again, I emphasize. You MUST do this or you are …..and I’ll go out on a limb here . . ..you are definitely hurting your chances of big success with your email blasts.
Opt in vs Double Opt in
Here’s another thing you have to make your own decision on and I’ll give you the pros and cons of each. I’m talking about whether you should use single or double opt in when people get on your list. Single opt in means they put their email in your online form and they are immediately put on your list. Double opt in means when they fill out your form and put their email in, they get an email that requires them to click a link to confirm they really want to be on your list. BEFORE they get on your list.
Single opt in. The pros are that the email address definitely gets on your list and the subscriber does not have to open another email and click on the link. This gives you the maximum number of subscribers who are on the list. The downside of single opt in is that someone else could maliciously add email addresses to your list, i.e. if someone doesn’t like you, they could put your email address on a bunch of porn email lists and you wouldn’t know it until you started getting porn email in your inbox.
From the list owner’s perspective, all those people that got emails from you because you thought they were legitimate subscribers, will start making spam complaints. You didn’t mean to spam anyone, but you did because all those addresses were on your list that someone else put on maliciously.
Double opt in. The pros of double opt in are that the chance of spam complaints is much smaller because the person subscribing had to click a link in the confirmation email. This proves they had control of that email address and they signed themselves up. Also, you get a better-quality subscriber because they took the time to sign themselves up and because they watched for and clicked on the link in the confirmation email. The downside of double opt in is that potentially good subscribers may not get the confirmation email, or get too busy to look for it and they don’t click on it and you may lose them. Your overall subscriber numbers will always be less with double opt in. The consolation prize to you is that the people who are on your list are way higher quality and you rarely get a spam complaint.
Getting in Gmail’s Main Inbox
Now let’s talk about Gmail. Google has thrown in a kink to us email marketers by making different inboxes one of which is the “Promotional Inbox” where your email will get buried and never read. So, how do you keep your emails from ending up there? You can’t guarantee they will never get there, but there are lots of things you can do to help yourself out here. I’m going to give you some right now, but for a very comprehensive article about this check out the show notes. https://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/how-to-ensure-emails-gmail-primary-tab/
The first thing is to do all the stuff I’ve already outlined to give yourself a chance to even get to Gmail’s inbox. If you don’t do that, nothing I say in this section about Gmail really matters that much.
OK. Here’s some things you can do and yes, I know some are a real pain in the neck.
One would be send in smaller batches. When Gmail see’s big amounts of email coming in from the same place the walls start to go up. Another thing you can do is make it look more personal by using the person’s name in the subject line. Email marketers have gone back and forth over the years doing that and not doing that. It takes up valuable space in the subject line and lots of spammers used to do it and then it fell out of favor, and then it came back and then it went away. So, I don’t have a definitive answer for you whether you should or not put the person’s first name in the subject line. You can experiment with it and see which way works best for you.
One of the most effective ways if you can get to the person receiving your emails and they really like your stuff is to get them to take some action on their own email inbox. Remember, we’re talking about Gmail here. You might have to coach them on what to do.
One simple thing you can have the recipient do is to click the little arrow/flag next to the senders’ name in their inbox. This marks the email as important. Another thing you can do is ask them to drag the message to their main inbox and then they’ll get a pop-up box asking if future emails from you (the sender) should go to the primary inbox. They say yes and you’re good.
Yet another thing you can do is ask them to hover their mouse over your name and they’ll get a pop-up box where they can add you as a contact. If you really want to learn even more ways to get cleared into Gmail’s main inbox refer to the article link I included in the show notes.
Now, I want to introduce you to David Riklan. He started one of the most prolific sites on the Internet https://www.SelfGrowth.com He’s sent out many millions of email over the years so I thought I would get him to give you his take on how he stays out of the spam filters.
David Riklan
Hi it’s David Riklan from SelfGrowth.com Tom asked me to send you some tips on how to avoid spam filters when sending out emails. During the last 20 years I’ve been involved in email marketing in the self-improvement and personal development space. One major part of my business is sending out emails. I’m a strong believer in the power of building up an email list of your customers and prospects because sending email is still one of the best ways to get your message out in front of them. One of the challenges is that it’s getting more and more difficult to get your email out through the spam filters. I want to share a few ideas to help you. Let’s start with some basics. It’s a good practice to always send emails from an email address that contains either your personal name or your brand name so that the recipients recognize you. Always remove names of people who request to be removed from your list and it’s very important to choose a reliable ESP. That’s your email service provider such as Icontact and aweber. Always use opt in email addresses. Don’t buy a bunch of names and import them. People should be requesting your emails.
Some more advanced suggestions include creating some test email accounts. For example, you can create an extra Gmail, a Yahoo or a Hotmail account. And then test your email directly to them before you send out your email to the full list. You should also find or create a list of spam words and phrases to avoid. And you want to make these words aren’t in your email or your subject line. Things like, “Buy Now”, “Urgent” and “Free Money”. Also, avoid all capital letters in the subject line. This is considered shouting. Keep away from all CAPS. People frown upon and they’re going to click the block button or they’re going to unsubscribe so keep away from all caps. You should also test your emails using a spam tester. This is a software program that tests your email before sending it. For example, Aweber, one of the programs we use has a tool to check your email for spam. Another technique is to remove hard bounces from your mailing list and remove people who haven’t opened your email in a very long time. If someone’s gone a year and they haven’t opened your email, they’re probably not reading it. You want to make sure the emails are being sent to people that actually want to receive them. If you want to be even more proactive, you can get a certified third-party company like “Return Path” to ensure your emails will get through. And they’ll check to make sure you’re not blacklisted sender. There are a few websites out there to check to see if your domain name is blacklisted. If you follow these practices, you’ll be more effective in getting your email through the spam filters. Good luck with email marketing. It’s very, very effective.
Thanks David, those were some great tips and yes you heard me mention some of the same ones. That’s because top email marketers do the same best practices to get the biggest bang for their email buck. Make sure you go over to https://www.SelfGrowth.com and check out all David’s great freebies.
Reducing Spam Coming to Your Email
This is the Number 2 of the three things I’m going to talk about with spam. Everybody cries about spam. I contend if there was money in those emails, they wouldn’t cry so much, but that’s another episode LOL. Now we’re going to switch gears and tell you a little bit about how to reduce the spam coming to your email. The first thing is, if you think an email is spam DON’T OPEN IT. By opening it you just told the spammer the address is good and now he can sell the address to all his spammer buddies to really open the floodgates of spam coming your way. Do don’t open it. Mark it as junk or just delete it.
Now I want to say something that will probably freak you out. Sometimes I want you to get tons of spam. And why would I say that? Well even though I have a great disdain for spammers, from a marketing standpoint you can learn a lot from the marketing emails you get from both legitimate marketers and spammers alike. I want you to get a throwaway email address and sign up for every marketing email you can find. By using the throwaway email and by throwaway, I mean it’s not your main email inbox where you don’t want to get tons of marketing messages. It’s an email address you use exclusively for signup up for marketing stuff. When you are in marketing mode, spend some time going through all the marketing messages and jot down thing and subject lines you could use or adapt for your own marketing messages.
The next thing I want you to do is to avoid email addresses starting with “info”, “support” or “admin”. If every spammer didn’t send to these emails, he or she would lose their spammers union card. LOL Every spammer automatically sends spam to those addresses they grabbed from your website or if they grabbed a list of new domains somewhere.
OK. Speaking of grabbing emails off your website ….and this is a case of do as I say, not as I do. ….my main email has been around so long and spammed to death for so long, I don’t bother with the tips I’m going to give you now. If I scrap my old email address and start fresh with a new one, I will be using these next tips.
Spammers send email bots out to ….they call it “harvest” email addresses off websites and blogs. There are several things you can do to combat this. Some are easy to do, but make it harder for your prospects to contact you. You have to balance the amount of spam you get with hassling your prospects and possibly making them want to skip you and go to your competitor who is easier to reach.
One simple thing you can do is put your email on your site as a graphic. Spam bots can’t read inside the graphic.
Another thing you can do spell out your email address and use parenthesis marks with the letter “A” in them to simulate the @ sign. Some people spell out .com as D O T C O M. Both of these methods require the visitor to manually type in the email address rather than just click on it with the mailto: code. The “Mailto:” code if they click on it, automatically opens up the visitor’s default email program with the email address already in the to: field making it really easy for the visitor to email you. But it also makes it easy for the spambots to grab your email address off your website.
Another way that works perfectly but has a massive downside is to have a contact form. The spam bots can’t grab your email address and when submitted the form contents gets emailed to you. The problem is, EVERYBODY HATES FILLING OUT FORMS! I’ve counselled people for years not to put forms on their website because they just make people mad because the visitor doesn’t figure anyone is ever going to read the form and it’s a waste of time for them to fill it out.
There are some fancier ways using JavaScript which you would have to get a geek to do for you.
Another way is called a challenge / response system. The one I’ve used is Spam Arrest https://www.SpamArrest.com Challenge / response means when an email comes in, a return email is sent back and the person is challenged to prove they are real. This knocked out pretty much 99 percent of my spam email the minute it was installed. You will hassle people that you do want to hear from the first time, but then they are cleared and don’t have to bother with the challenge after that.
OK. Some other things you want to watch are joining contests, filling out web forms where the company may sell your data, joining contests etc. Use your throwaway email address for this. You can blacklist people in your email program, mark stuff as junk and basically start to pay attention to this and your amounts of spam will be reduced. Oh, and one more thing. If you’re using a free emails service like gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail you are just asking for spam. It’s not a good idea anyway from a marketing standpoint because you should be using an email with your domain name in it. That way every email you send is an advertisement for your site.
I’ve included a good article in the show notes outlining even more ways to stop spam coming to you.
https://lunarpages.com/spam-proofing-site-save-inbox-unwanted-email/

Dealing with Spam Comments on Your Blog
OK the last subject I’ll cover about spam is spam comments that hit your blog and what to do about them. In the early days I had thousands of comments on my blog that I didn’t even know about. Thankfully my blog was set to catch them before they showed up live on the blog. A bunch of spam comments on your blog screams to real visitors that you don’t take care of your blog and you’re not very professional. In addition, many of the comments included malicious links that if clicked on could cause lots of trouble, and many try to trick people into giving up personal information. YIKES. Plus, the more spam comments on a blog, the less likely a real person will bother to leave a legitimate comment. Comment spam is always bad.
I get people all the time….mostly newbies….telling me they get tons of nice comments on their blog. If you see a comment that is totally generic like “You really do a great job on this blog. I’m going to stop back regularly. Check out my site too.” And there’s a link. Hey, if there’s zero specific information about what your blog posting said, you can be sure it’s spam.
Here’s some things you can do with WordPress to reduce this.
You can make people register with your site before they can leave a comment.
You can blacklist certain words, that if they show up in a comment, the comment is automatically deleted or held for you to look at before it goes live on your site. I’ve included a link to a list of 34,000 blacklist words you can cut and past into WordPress
Blacklist words https://github.com/splorp/wordpress-comment-blacklist Download the text file with 34,000 words.

You can moderate all comments which means you have to look at them and click “Approve” before they go live on your site. That’s what I do mostly.
You can activate the plugin that comes with WordPress called Akismet. I think it’s like $5.00 a month or something which does a darn good job of catching spam comments
You can switch to a third-party comment plugin like Disqus. I don’t particularly like that, but a lot of people use it.
Okie Doke Now this is by no means a fully comprehensive list of things you could do to reduce spam in your life and business, but if you just these things, I’m certain your will reduce your spam problems in these three categories by 80% or more. And check out all those links of those in-depth articles. I didn’t write them. These are from geeks that specialize in this field. You gotta keep your eyes open for good content and people that help you because nobody knows everything about all this stuff. I use these tools to reach higher levels and that’s why I’m doing this podcast so that you do too.

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