Live from MeritDirect: Spam Aftertaste a Hot Topic

White Plains, NY—The effect of spam on legitimate e-mail marketers was the hot topic of conversation at the E-commerce Town Hall portion of the Fourth Annual MeritDirect Business Mailers Co-op and E-mail Marketing Conference.

Several of the more than 200 attendees raised questions regarding how to avoid having their messages returned or deleted by spam filters.

“There are filters galore but no consistency,” said panelist Reggie Brady, president of consultancy Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions. ISPs use differing filters, and the IT departments of corporations often add additional filters to keep their e-mail systems from overloading. Each filter uses different criteria for determining which e-mail messages are spam. Add to the filters the more than 200 blacklists maintained by a variety of groups and individuals, and determining what will and won’t be deemed acceptable becomes a gargantuan task.

Panelist Rob Sanchez, senior vice president of list management services at MeritDirect, said that ideally the service bureaus should have relationships with the ISPs, filter suppliers, and blacklists so that they can advise clients on crafting acceptable e-mail messages. The service bureaus should also be identifying the domains that return e-mails as “undeliverable” and the volume of e-mail that is rejected so that they know where to concentrate their efforts.

Brady also suggested running e-mail messages through content filters before sending them. These filters, which are available through e-mail service providers as well as for free online, will flag questionable wording or offers that could get a message bounced.

Besides spam filters, e-mailbox glut has contributed to what the panel agreed is a decline in e-mail response rates. Clearly identifying your company in the “from” line can help prevent recipients from automatically deleting your e-mail messages without even opening them. Panelist Ruth Stevens, of consultancy eMarketing Strategy, cited statistics indicating that 60% of an e-mail’s “power” comes from the ‘from” line, compared with 35% from the “subject” line.

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