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Spam Filters Run-Amuck

Is your message getting through? Your customer and newsletter correspondence may be getting deleted, resulting in lost sales and irate customers.

Warning: If you publish an online newsletter or mail to any opt-in list (including your customer list), it is critical that you read this...

I'm sure you already know that your opt-in lists (of customers, subscribers, etc) are some of the most valuable assets of your business.

You've probably also heard there are some Spam Filter programs and scripts that may stop recipients from receiving certain email messages sent out.

Spam Filters Are Blocking Your Non-Spam Emails

What you probably don't know is how insanely broad-based and indiscriminately these filters identify messages as spam and delete them automatically.

It's one thing to talk about this in vague terms; It's another to see the facts. This article is not intended to debate the merits of spam filters or the nuisance of spam. I've never had much interest in debating how things "should be" in business... I simply work at having the most accurate understanding of how things actually are to best serve my marketing clients and customers.

Here's The Reality Of The Situation

As spam email continues to increase and become more problematic, more and more attempts will be made - at both individual and group levels - to filter unwanted messages. Unfortunately, in order for these filters to block out a good percentage of spam, they are also deleting non-spam messages as well.

The filters look for certain words like "XXX, porn, Bizop, $$$, things like that, and delete them on the (probably valid) assumption that they're spam.

However, They Don't Stop There...

Below are the actual "Spam Filter" terms built in to McAfee Spam Killer. To see it in action (and to watch a lot of email you wanted to receive get "zapped and deleted"), you can download it at www.download.com .

Here are some chilling examples of what words and phrases can trigger a supposed "Spam Filter" and get your email deleted! (offending phrases are highlighted in blue)
"Grandma, guess what, I won a free cruise" (ZAP)
"Thanks for considering me for the job opening. It was great meeting with you, and thank you for your time and interest." (ZAP)
"Honey, remember when I told you that before you saw me next I was going to lose weight? Well guess what... (ZAP)

That's right, the words listed above in blue triggered the Spam Filter, which would then delete that email.

...So apparently, it's now considered Spam to tell your Grandma that you won something, to thank a potential employer for meeting with you... Or even to tell your husband you're going to look sexy for him when he gets back from his trip. (smile)

Business Email

Now let's look at what McAfee Spam Filter (as an example) will zap in responsible opt-in subscriber/customer email correspondence:

Business Email Correspondence Zapped:
"Here's the top risk factors of heart attacks you requested. For more important information, visit our website." (ZAP)
"We hope you've found this new information on battling depression to be helpful. In a crisis situation, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE. " (ZAP) (That's right... Putting "1-800" in your email will get it deleted!)
"Thank you for your purchase. You can call toll free to our customer support free hotline if you have any problems." (ZAP)
"And remember, it's satisfaction guaranteed. " (ZAP)
"...sent out by request only. If this message has reached you in error..." (ZAP)
"Here's the information you requested, I hope it..." (ZAP)
"This online newsletter goes out by subscription only. If you wish to cancel your subscription, click here to be removed." (ZAP)
"I have a 100% Free gift for you as a thank-you for being a valued customer." (ZAP)

Uh... So you can't help people avoid heart attacks, keep them from preventing suicide, or send them a 100% free gift as a personal thank-you. What's the world coming to? (smile)

Are You Starting To Get The Picture?

Unless you actually have a list of "spam triggers" in front of you to use as a reference, it can be fairly hard to get a message through to someone who has a spam filter in place, whether the filter has been installed voluntarily by the end-user, or whether their ISP or Email Provider has one in place for all their users which functions automatically.

A more comprehensive list of "trigger words" is listed below. First, let's talk about how this affects you - and what you can do about it.

  1. Be aware of trigger words and phrases that can get your message deleted in ALL of your correspondence. Pay close attention to opt-out phrases ("to be removed"... etc.), there are a lot of variations of those that'll get you zapped. Unfortunately, the clear opt-out instructions of legitimate newsletter publishers are the exact wordings that are set to trigger Spam Filters.

  2. When in doubt, don't send your entire newsletter by email (if it may contain "trigger words"). Just email your list and say, "Your newest newsletter issue is available to read by clicking here. In this issue, we show you 7 ways to get a better nights' sleep, and 3 methods of getting extra energy in the afternoon. Click here to read it now."

    (In other words, you'll probably get higher readership if you "tempt" your readers with what they'll get, instead of just saying, "click here for the newest issue".

  3. An alternative is just to be extremely careful in your newsletters and mailings regarding specific words, phrases, and opt-out notices. Don't mention free gifts, toll-free numbers, special offers, don't say "visit our website", use an unusual unsubscribe statement, and proceed as usual. If you're in the Bizopp, weight loss, or MLM field, you have even more challenges. Those actual words are on the list, as well as related ones.

  4. Be very aware of 3rd party opt-out notices if you're doing Joint Ventures, cross-promotions, or opt-in email advertising. You may write a well-crafted letter that avoids all potential spam trigger words, work out a Joint Venture endorsement with someone else's list, and have them mail your offer to their list with a little note at the bottom they added at the last minute that triggers spam filters like artillery fire:

    "This is not a spam email. (1) To be removed, click here.(2) Free gift (3) and free consultion (4) if you respond now".

    That disclaimer/notification box triggered 4 separate spam filters in McAfee Spam Killer, as noted above.

    Warning: If you do any paid advertising to opt-in lists, do NOT expect the list owner to be familiar with the spam filter words and phrases listed here.

How many emails of yours are "missing in action" due to Spam Filter deletion? It's hard to say. But what's obvious is that spam filters will become more prevalent and aggressive in the future. If you can avoid the problem by following the simple steps I've listed above, there's no reason not to, and it can only help.

A more complete list of Spam Filter triggers is below. There are different ones for email subject lines, "To:" field, and body text. I've omitted the obvious ones that you shouldn't have to worry about, like "free porn" and obnoxious things of that nature.

Here is a sampling of the filters for the "Header" field. If ANY of the following words/phrases are found by McAfee Spam Killer in your subject line, your email is history.

Subject Line Filter Terms
$$$ 100% free
ad apply now
Earn $ earn extra cash
explode your business double your income
eliminate debt extra income
f r e e fast cash
financial freedom financially independent
free gift free info
free membership free offer
home based homebased business
income from home increase sales
increase your sales incredible deal
info you requested information you requested
internet market limited time offer
make $ opportunity
web traffic weight loss
online marketing save $

Here is a sampling of the filters for the "body" of an email message. If any of the following words/phrases are found by McAfee Spam Killer in the body of your message, your email will be deleted.

Body Text Filter Terms
1-800 1-888
100% free 100% guarantee
remove :remove
accept credit cards as seen on tv
be considered spam be your own boss
below is the result of your feedback form buy recommendation
call toll free cash in on
click here for removal click here to be removed
click here to remove collect your $
confidentiality assured credit card #
custom quote dear homeowner
dear fellow entrepreneur debt free
deleted from further communication earn extra income
email marketing excluded from our mailing
f r e e featured on tv
for permanent remove free consultation
free cruise free free free
free yourself further transmission
future mailing future promotion
get out of debt get your free sample
great internet services hair loss product
home based business home business opportunity
home shopping homebased business
increase your revenue information you requested
joke of the day life insurance quote
limited time offer lose inches
lose weight mailto:remove
mailto:unsub making money online
message has reached you in error message is being sent in full compliance
message is sent in compliance money back guarantee
money on the internet no obligation
one time mailing onetime mailing
one time message online promotion
please respond with remove r e m o v e
reached you in error receive this message in the future
received this email because received this email by mistake
received this in error received this message in error
receiving this special offer receiving this email because
receiving this message because receiving this special offer
reduce body fat removal information
removal instructions remove as the subject
remove in subject remove in the subject
remove me in the subject remove on the subject line
remove request remove you from our mail
remove@ removed from any further mail
removed from future offer removed from our in-house mailing
removed from our list removed from our mailing
removed from this mailing respond with the word remove
satisfaction guaranteed special offer message
subject line of remove this is not a spam
this is not spam this message is not spam
this message is sent in compliance to be deleted from our database
to be removed click to be removed email
to be removed from future mail to be removed from our database
to be removed from our email list to be removed go to
to be removed mailto to be removed please click
to be removed reply to this message to be removed send an email
to be removed send email to be removed send mail
to be taken off to remove from mailing
visit our web site visit our website
webmasters only with the subject remove
work from home you have won
you wish to be removed your business on the Internet
your email removed your time and interest

The following are filter words for the "To:" address of an email. If you have a subscription list of just email addresses and you arbitrarily set the name of the receiver as "friend" or "everyone", some Spam Filters will block your mail. In other words don't do a mailing like this:

"Friend" <subscriber1@iprofitsystems.com
"Friend" <subscriber2@iprofitsystems.com
etc., etc

"To": Email address starts with:
everyone fellow marketer
friend netmarketer
nobody winner

On a final note: You CAN customize McAfee Spam Filter to only delete email based on your own criteria, and you can delete whatever built-in filters it comes with, but please don't email me to tell me that the program can be a useful tool when 'tweaked right".

The purpose of this report is to discuss how to avoid having your business emails automatically deleted by others, not how to customize a Spam Filter program to work effectively for you.

Disclaimer: This report is in no way meant to "bash" McAfee Spam Killer specifically over any other Spam filters available on the market. It was referenced in this report as an example and point of reference.

Do with this information what you will. I don't want to make you paranoid, and it may be that Spam Filters aren't affecting your business... yet. But it makes sense that they'll become more common and more aggressive in the future, and when something as simple (and important) as an email to your new customer saying,

"Thank you for your order, here's how to download your software, and if you have any problems, call our free support line at 1-800-###-####x"

...gets deleted (because the 1-800 triggered a Spam Filter), you have the potential for angry customers who think you're ignoring them.

At least now if it happens, you'll know to consider the possibility that maybe a Spam Filter deleted your email.

To your success, Tim Gross - President, Internet Profit Systems

To get more cutting-edge, profitable business reports like this one, subscribe to our free Profit Systems Report - Considered to be one of the most valuable (and free!) business ezines on the Internet. Your privacy is assured:

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(C) 2002 Internet Profit Systems - All Rights Reserved





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