Not really, you may just look like one
Spam is nothing more than a bane of Internet existence.
Because email is free and can also easily be faked, spammers have made our lives miserable pretty much since the dawn of the Internet. The unfortunate effect of spam is that people need a way to block it. With spam, same as with hacking, you're always having to play catch-up. When you prevent one type of spam, the spammers find another way to slip through, and it all becomes annoying again.
When people grow tired of having to persistently blacklist email addresses, they seek help from the many security programs out there. Similarly, web hosts and ISPs look for ways to cut out spam, as this not only annoys their clients, but also causes a great deal of stress on a server.
There are a few global spam databases, called Spamhauses, that keep track of email addresses, domains, and IP addresses that have been designated as spammers.
These lists are automated, which is the only way to deal with the millions of spam emails circling the globe on a daily basis. As with any automation, however, there are side effects, most notably the accidental blocking of legitimate emails, simply because they used certain wrong phrases, or have attachments.
One thing I regularly remind clients is that spam is always in the eye of the receiver. If someone, whether an individual, an ISP or web host, has very high security settings, they are much more sensitive to elements within an email, so your chances of being blocked increase.
Recently, we have even been affected ourselves by one Spamhaus, SpamCop. SpamCop is an email security system that reads emails as they come into a mail server and decides whether or not they look like spam. If the email does look like spam, it is automatically added to a list back at the main SpamCop servers.
Unfortunately, SpamCop is extremely sensitive, or as they word it 'aggressive,' and as such can easily block perfectly benign emails.
Their site acknowledges that SpamCop may block or filter wanted email, and their solution is that the recipient must whitelist an email address or IP in advance if they want to receive emails from it. This assumes that they know how to.
Such 'shoot first' policies make life hard for business owners, who email proposals, attachments, service descriptions, or information which could be seen as solicitation.
Furthermore, the first reaction of a person when they find out that their email never arrived is to try resending.
This makes the situation worse. As your email arrives at the other end, even if cleaned up, a Spamhaus check shows that you have already been blocked for the first email. So it not only blocks the second email, but thinks you are trying to force your way through to the recipient. This results in you being blocked for longer. From then on, the more times you try to resend, the more you are blacklisted.
Unfortunately, thanks to spammers, this is the way it has become, so it is up to us normal email users to monitor and change our own practices.
If an email does not get to its recipient, ask them to check their junk folders. If you must resend, send from an email address outside of your business one.
Send in plain text if possible, and avoid attachments where possible. If you have the ability, upload the file somewhere, and send a link instead.
You should make sure that your host has activated the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) system on your domain. This verifies that spam cannot be sent from your domain and helps your reputation.
The biggest thing to avoid is never, ever, use purchased email lists, even if the seller says they are opt-in. I mean, who would opt to have their email address sold to millions of companies?
If you have concerns with your web presence, now is the perfect time to look into our WebUpdate system sites, which take advantage of advanced marketing, SEO and promotion features to give your business the best competitive edge online.
Keith Berger, MD - Center for Health and Cancer Prevention
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