Monday, 17 July 2017

Best ways to stop spam in your inbox

Ten ways to keep your email inbox clean (without using a disposable email address)

This article outlines 10 ways to keep your email inbox clean. It's aimed at users who are using personal email addresses through mailbox providers, as opposed to users receiving email at work through corporate email accounts. The majority of the tips apply to both sets of users. If you are receiving spam on your company email account, have a chat with your network administrator.

Here are ten common sense, simple ways to reduce spam in your email inbox.

1. Have more than one email address

Keep an email address for correspondence with friends / family etc and don't use it for online purchases.  That way you can get emails from people you want to hear from, and keep other correspondence on your terms.

A study by Lifewire (link below) in May 2017 reckoned that on average we have 1.7 email addresses each. If you want another but don't want to pay for it there are plenty of mailbox providers that provide free email addresses. Among the most popular are Yahoo (still - even though the service has a reputation for poor security) Gmail, Outlook and Yandex.

2. Only buy online from companies you trust

If you're buying from a company but you think they will sell your details and send you spam, the most obvious thing to do is to buy from another supplier. Take a bit of time to research who you are buying from and decide whether you can trust them. If you don't trust the seller online, ask yourself why you are giving them your money. Take your card (and your email address) somewhere else. It's often the larger companies who send more emails, as they have the resources to manage fluid email marketing campaigns.

3. Take time to read the sign-up details and check the boxes so you don't get added to mailing lists

There are laws in place to prevent spam and reputable companies follow them. Plenty of companies play by the rules and don't send you emails you haven't signed up for. However, it's true that there are also plenty of companies who don't play by the letter of marketing law.

The main thing to check is that 'you' haven't pre-filled in the check box, which means you have signed up for contact. Also, if there is more than one check box, take time to be sure whether you are ticking the box to receive information, or ticking it not to receive it.

Some companies deliberately mix up the logic of their questions, so that if you're in a hurry you sign up. Worse than that, some privacy policies state that they will contact you, or that third party companies, or companies within a group will contact you unless you contact them to say otherwise. Make a point of following up privacy policies and take yourself off lists, along with a note about how you will report them to the relevant authority if they use your email.

4. Report spam

As long as you're using a reputable email service, (not a Disposable Email Account)  there will be an option to report an email as spam. If you want to keep your email inbox clean, use the spam button if a company sends you unsolicited emails that you are sure you haven't signed up for. This may seem a bit toothless but it really does have an impact as the collective power of recipients reporting emails will eventually harm the reputation of the company sending them.  It's possible for companies to be prevented from sending email if their sender reputation is bad.

Reporting spam will also help you in the long run as your email address can be identified as a 'squealer' account. This means that companies who validate their email address lists might decide not to bother you with unsolicited mail. Win win.

5. Use your inbox filters -don't just delete emails

It's tempting to get ratty with unwanted emails and just select them all for a mass 'delete.' However, before hitting delete, it's better to set up a filter, so that emails from the same sender, or containing particular subject lines are automatically filtered away from your inbox. It may take a bit of time to set filters up but it is a really good, effective way to get your inbox more relevant.

6. Don't forward spam if you don't want more of it

No use complaining about spammy emails if you are one of the people responsible for sharing it round. If you interact with spammy emails you are more likely to get more of them. That's because disreputable people who sell email addresses illegally create 'hot lists' of email addresses that are responsive. Move away from the kitten pictures and promises of good things happening if ten friends forward the email...

7. Unsubscribe from email marketing lists

We all buy things online whilst in a good mood and then get grumpy when the emails come offering us the next new product. It's better to unsubscribe than it is to get annoyed every time your email inbox fills up with emails you're bored of. At the foot of every genuine marketing email there will be an unsubscribe link. It should be a one-click process, occasionally it takes two clicks as you have to confirm you mean to unsubscribe. That's annoying, but push through the irritation and get yourself off the list. If you want to feel empowered, do a screen grab of your unsubscribe and have it ready to email to their marketing department or paste to their Facebook page. That always feels good ;)

8. Go public

Plenty of companies that are reputable get their email marketing processes wrong. Don't be worried about letting them know through another channel if they continue to send unsolicited emails. Facebook is a great leveller, and larger companies often run their social media through agencies or teams that are very responsive. Don't be rude when you complain and always say thank you when it has been sorted. This sort of communication also helps companies change their approach to email gathering and marketing, as it provides evidence that their approach isn't perfect.
NB. Don't make your email address public on Facebook! Only provide it in a private message.

9. Don't sign up for loyalty schemes unless you want to hear from the company

When you get tempted by discounts and you sign up for vouchers at checkout or discount codes to use in the future, it's safe to assume you'll be hearing from that company again. There's no such thing as a free lunch after all. 

10. Don't give your email to high-street stores, or share your email address in offline channels

As a shopper, you might not have heard of the omni-channel approach to retailing. This is the way that retailers try to make sure you get consistent exposure to their brand, wherever you encounter it; for example, whether you are buying from them online, on the high street or over the phone.

There's a rising trend in high street stores to ask for your email address, so they can 'just email you the receipt' for goods you purchase in store. Some even say the primary reason for having your email is so they can reduce their environmental footprint by saving paper for till receipts. Well, it might be I suppose. Or it might be in order to add your details to their mailing list...

Harvesting emails from offline channels also takes place at events, in feedback forms, competitions, research -in fact anywhere where you get into conversation with the company. If you don't want to have a conversation in your inbox, don't give your email address unless you are sure what it is going to be used for, and be explicit about that usage when you hand it over.

Overall, there are four rules for a clean inbox:

  • Don't deal with companies you don't trust
  • Do your inbox housekeeping 
  • Report spam 
  • Be careful how you share your email address -online as well as offline
Here's that link to the Lifewire article about email addresses. It's an interesting site with plenty of email tips.

If you'd like to learn more about Omnichannel retail, this is a good, positive read from Multi-Channel Merchant.

Another way to keep your email inbox clean is to use email tumbling. Here's a link to our useful blog article about that.

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