What is spam?

There is nothing more annoying than logging into check your email and sifting through tens or hundreds of unwanted email advertising for some product sent directly to your email address.

What is spam?

While the most widely recognized form of spam is email, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: your instant messaging windows, internet forums, facebook, in blogs and discussion boards and so on. It’s one of the most hated phenomena of the digital world.

As a response to complaints from people being bombarded by trillions of unsolicited email messages, most countries have implemented some form of spam legislation, and the consequences to violators can be severe. For example, violators of Canada’s Bill C-28, Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act (FISA), can be fined up to $1 million for an individual and up to $10 million for an organization. There is also an international CAN-SPAM Act that was passed.

However, even if your email program has complied with the laws, there will be subscribers who gave you permission but will hit the spam button anyway. Why? Because those subscribers don’t feel that your email was relevant, timely, targeted, or valuable. At the end of the day, no matter what the law says, it is ultimately up to the subscriber to decide what is unwanted email, and the subscriber holds all of the power with the “Report as spam” button that can trash your company’s online reputation – and the ability to get future email delivered – with just a click.

Read that again: what is spam is up to the subscriber.

So how do you fight this?

There are few general solutions to help keep your recipients from hitting the spam button, even after they have opted in. Making sure you are sending your messages to those who have explicitly given their permission is a vital first step. What makes permission email marketing different is not just that you have the approval of the customer to send to them, it’s that you, by getting permission, are sending email messages to people who really want them. The key is to only send useful emails that are relevant to your recipients. Remember this golden rule above all else to avoid being flagged as spam:

Send only relevant, timely, targeted, valuable email to people who asked for it.

Keep track of what works and what doesn’t and adapt accordingly. Most readers spend only three to five seconds scanning an email before they decide to read it or ignore it, so it’s critical you do everything possible to make sure they open and engage with your message. A great way to do this is to set-up a simple A/B “Subject-line” test and segmentation rules. Testing your email campaigns upfront provides you with real-time consumer data based entirely on recipient behavior, allowing you to maximize campaign effectiveness and reaching your customers with the right message, in the best way, at the right time.

If you can send relevant, timely, targeted, valuable email to people who asked for it, you’ll avoid being flagged as a spammer by your subscribers.

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