How to Play Nice With Spam

April 20th, 2011

We’ve all been there. Sitting in front of our computers and watching the stream of new emails inundating our inboxes. Then you spend minutes trying to sift through them. This one is a client, this one is a marketing email and this one is “spam”.

The question is how do you respond to messages you deem as spam? It is important to understand why you have received the message to begin with. Not all messages you deem as spam were random advertisements sent by fraudulent companies. Here are some possible reasons you may have received the message:

  1. You signed up on the company’s website to receive email messages.
  2. You registered for a webinar the company put on.
  3. Your information is part of a marketing database within your category.
  4. Your information was shared with partner companies based on a previous registration.
  5. You met an individual with the company at a tradeshow and gave him or her your business card.

The next step you make with this message is very important. You can keep the message, delete the message, unsubscribe from future campaigns or mark it as spam. It is important to understand that unsubscribing from email campaigns and marking them as spam are two different things.

When you unsubscribe from an email list, the sending company is required to remove you from future mailings. Any reputable company that participates in email marketing will leverage a sophisticated email marketing tool that will automatically disable or remove your information from their email contacts database.

Marking something as spam will also remove you from future mailings but it can also damage the company’s reputation with the main email service providers and Internet service providers. If there are enough complaints, all email being sent from that company will begin to be rejected as spam. This is commonly referred to as blacklisting.

Why is this important to you? Simple, if you have registered to receive email marketing from a company and then decide against receiving future mailings, you can damage the business’s marketing operations by marking their messages as spam. If you received the message completely unsolicited then by all means mark them as “spam”. If not however, it is best to use the standard unsubscribe methods to ensure you have made your wishes aware to the marketer but at the same time have not damaged their reputation unintentionally.