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Spam Trap Dangers Make Marketers' Lives More Difficult

June 26, 2012
By Michael Neubarth

Return Path’s latest email study ("2012 Sender Score Benchmark Report") sounds an alarm to marketers about the increasing need to avoid spam traps.

As Sandeep Vadgama explains in “Why Getting Emails to the Inbox Just Got Tougher,” as the amount of spam emails increases, ISPs are enforcing tougher standards on email senders, “making the email marketer's job that much harder.”

Return Path reported that, after reviewing nearly 20 trillion emails from 130 million IP addresses, that more than 85% of the messages received by ISPs were classified as spam.

What is happening, explains Virtual Strategy Magazine, is that email marketers are getting caught in the crossfire between spammers and ISPs. To avoid this situation, the author warns, “marketers must pay attention to their reputation and manage their metrics so they don’t look like spammers.”

Return Path found that businesses with high sender reputations saw 95% of their messages delivered on average, whereas those with lower sender reputations saw delivery rates of only 68% on average.

As Return Path’s Tom Sather relates, “As ISPs continue to tighten their filtering methods, email marketers with poor sender reputations have unwittingly become caught in the net used to keep out the deluge of spam.”

The importance of sender reputation was reinforced by Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg, who counseled that, “Having a high reputation is the single most important factor for getting into the inbox.”

As Ken Magill explains, the number of spam traps a mass e-mailer hits is one of three key metrics email inbox providers (AOL, Yahoo!, Hotmail, et al.) use to determine whether incoming email is spam. Moreover, Magill explains, “too many spam complaints can get a mailer’s messages shunted off into would-be recipients’ spam folders or blocked from reaching them altogether.” 

For those who ignore these problems, the damage can be sizable. As Vadgama explains, approximately 20% of opt-in emails never reach the recipient’s inbox. “If you consider how much revenue your email marketing efforts generate and take off a potential 20%, I imagine it would be a significant amount.”

Top marketers take measures to keep these issues in check. Among the tips Vadgama recommends is to monitor your reputation and practice good list hygiene, which he says is vital to the successful deliverability of an email campaign.

Experts agree that email list cleaning and maintaining a high-quality list are critical. As Return Path’s Sather warns, “Poor list hygiene and maintenance, and sending irrelevant emails will still result in high complaint, spam trap and unknown user rates regardless of how many times you make your subscribers opt in.”

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