& SAVE GUIDE to Avoiding Spam Filters
you omit the word bleep? Hint: it starts with an "f." Ends with
an "e." Has four letters.
order to get past spam filters labeling their mail as "false positives,"
some e-publishers are cloaking trigger words with made-up spellings like "sp^m"
or "fre*e." They're also using circumlocutions such as "To leave
this list and never hear from us again" instead of "To unsubscribe."
It looks silly and unprofessional. I can't stand the idea of being muzzled
by anti-spam technology.
it's true. Filters are becoming a business-critical problem for opt-in email marketers
and newsletter publishers.
With filters operating at the ISP, corporate
firewall and desktop client level, it's harder than ever to get legitimate email
messages successfully delivered. The filters are neither stemming the tide of
sp^m, nor accurately diverting it into junk folders.
& SAVE guide
can you do? You don't have to become an expert but you need to know enough to
avoid the most common triggers. Educate yourself on the basics of spam-filtering
with our mini CLIP & SAVE guide.
(The CAN-Spam Act of
2003 was passed into legislation after this article was originally published.
A good reference on how to comply with the new rules is How
to comply with the CAN-Spam Act of 2003 by Ralph W. Wilson.)
tutorial on SpamAssassin
a selected list of just a few of the hundreds of terms blocked by SpamAssassin,
the most widely used network-level filter.
(Note: SpamAssassin uses open-source
technology aimed at UNIX systems. My non-techie interpretation of this is that
network administrators can configure SpamAssassin however they want.)
common trigger words or phrases:
- subject line starts with free
- subject contains FREE in all caps
- the word free in certain phrases (free offer, free leads, free access,
- certain words like guarantee in all caps
- words like unsubscribe, leave, and other list removal
- using font sizes that are 2 + or bigger
- background in an HTML email that isnt white
- HTML font color is gray, red, yellow, green, blue, magenta or unknown
- claims compliance with spam regulations or with US Senate Bill 1618 or House
- urges you to call now or claims you can be removed from the list
- the phrases: what are you waiting for, while supplies last, while you sleep
- asks you to click below
- uses a Nigerian scam key phrase such as million dollars
- money back guarantee
can you avoid all of these? The answer is you dont have to. SpamAssassin
uses a rules-based system to filter mail headers and body text.
its a point system that assigns positive (its spam) or negative (its
not spam) scores to a long list of trigger words, phrases and message headers.
You have to reach a certain total before your email message is classified as spam
youre accumulating negative as well as positive points, you may be under
the threshold. For example, using the phrase if only it were that easy
assigns you +2.0 points. Free preview gives you +1.7 points while
free trial gives you only +0.1.
believe the most common setting for the trigger score is a total of +5. You geeks
out there can jump on
me if this isn't correct.
reader has kindly informed me that the text version of this issue of WordBiz Report
scored a +7 through his system's settings. So much for made-up words. Oh, and
I'm guilty as charged. We do say "click below" in the text version.)
to waste some time?
through the loooong list of trigger words, in multiple languages, on SpamAssassin's
site. Its fascinating reading.
Click on this link to peruse SpamAssassin's
Good articles about SpamAssassin from Ezine-Tips
articles by Janet Roberts that provide good explanations in a few words:
a Spam Assassin Report
Unsubscribe Might Trigger Filters
to Avoid the U Word
Three useful articles by online marketing expert Ralph F. Wilson
Ways to Outsmart Spam Filters
Words & Phrases That Trigger Some Spam Filters
More about avoiding filters
Permission Emailer's Guide to Avoiding Filters
I highly recommend this special report by MarketingSherpa.
Top 5 Ways to Avoid Filters
Good article that explains the types of filtering that trash your emails.
filtering: killing the killer app
Long article by Geoff Duncan for TidBits, the venerated Mac community. I love
true costs of spam filters
Quick, informative article by Network World columnist Paul McNamara.
and email filters reader solutions
by ClickZ columnist Paul Soltoff
E-Marketing's Alter Ego
According to a new Jupiter report (Marketing and Branding Forecast: Online Advertising
and E-mail Marketing Through 2007), "e-newsletters and marketing emails will
lose their luster -- that is, messaging and branding effectiveness."
(Coalition against unsolicited commercial email). It's free to join and probably
a good thing to do.
Foundation to reduce spam
(different group) to report spam
Frontier Foundations position on junk email
Stay informed about legislative efforts to combat spam
text of the CAN-Spam Act of 2003
to comply with the CAN-Spam Act of 2003
Foundation Law Center
laws in the US, Europe and other countries
to the Federal Trade Commission on UCE (unsolicited commercial email)
desktop anti-spam filters
is a popular anti-spam filter for the end user
/ Reponse Software
of other great resources? Email me at dweil @ wordbiz dot com and I'll update
About Debbie Weil
Debbie is publisher
of award-winning WordBiz Report. She is a former newspaper reporter and editor
with an MBA and corporate marketing experience. She brings the discipline of a
reporter's eye and an editor's pen to marketing with e-newsletters, Web site content
Read her blog at www.debbieweil.com.
Subscribe free to WordBiz Report at www.wordbiz.com/signup.html.
Purchase e-books about marketing effectively with e-newsletters and blogs at www.wordbizstore.com.
This article was first published in the Sept. 25, 2002 issue of
© 2002 - 2004 WordBiz.com,
Inc. May not be reprinted without permission.