10 Ways to Stop Spam From Infiltrating Your Business Email
If you feel like you’re drowning in spam email everyday, you’re not alone. According to the site Spam Laws, spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day. That figure accounts for 45% of all emails, with some estimates hitting a staggering 73%. Companies are also under the burden of spam: Spam Laws reports that 52% of companies polled said minimizing spam is a top priority.
It may be hard to believe, but we actually do have spam laws under the CAN-SPAM Act – and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently reviewing them. For each violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, a business or person can be fined up to $11,000, although it seems we don’t hear about it being enforced that often. However, Microsoft did sue spammers in 2004 for violating the law.
The CAN-SPAM act went into effect in 2003 to help protect American consumers. There have been updates over the years, such as when the FTC differentiated between commercial and promotional emails, and transactional emails. But today we’re seeing an overlap between the two types of emails that the FTC hopes to clarify.
But can you stop spam altogether? The chances are slim to none you’ll ever achieve a zero-spam inbox, especially as a business owner. But there are ways to drastically reduce the burden. Here are 10 tips to (almost completely) stop spam from infiltrating your business email.
1. Strengthen Your Email Filters
The first step to combating spam is to strengthen your email filters. Go into your email provider’s settings and look for junk or spam folder settings. In Outlook, go to ‘Home’, click on ‘Junk’ and then click on ‘Junk Email Options.’ From there, you can choose the filtering level of your inbox, from ‘Low’ to ‘Safe lists only’. The latter is the highest setting and will only allow mail from your Safe Senders List.
It may be tempting to crank up your settings as high as they will go, but in reality, you could be blocking out your emails from clients or leads too. It’s best to find a happy medium where your filters are set high enough to eliminate some of the worst and most pervasive spam, but still allow customer inquiry emails to get through.
2. Get Domain Privacy
Paying the nominal annual fee for website domain privacy can actually help reduce the spam in your business email. When you register a domain without the domain privacy option, anyone can use the WHOIS database to see your contact information, including your name and email. WHOIS supplies this information in part to keep accurate domain records, and has actually helped law enforcement find people who run websites for nefarious purposes.
When you purchase domain privacy, your information is still there but it’s masked. No one can see it unless they send a request to your registrar to see your information. That request is forwarded on to you, and you can choose whether or not you want to respond to it. However, sometimes it’s actually a good idea to skip domain privacy when you’re a business owner. Customers sometimes associate domain privacy with suspicion. They tend to think business websites should be completely transparent.
3. Use Unroll.me
As you subscribe to coupon offers and information from other businesses or services, you can end up on so many email lists that it’s hard to remember how you ever landed on them. It’s also possible your email has been manually added to lists by less-than-credible email marketers.
Unsubscribing from email marketing lists early and often can help reduce spam email. A free service like Unroll.me can quickly search your inbox and make recommendations on what you should unsubscribe from with just a few clicks. You can also combine all of your favorite subscriptions into a single Rollup email to get all of your updates at once and gain some control over your inbox.
4. Register a Junk Email Address
You can always use a separate junk email address to give to marketers and use in email sign-ups to funnel any marketing and promotional messages to one place. This can help reduce the spam in your own business email account. Just be careful not to use your throwaway address to do things like register a domain. If you forget your login information and get locked out of your account, you can end up losing control over your website.
Make your junk email address something easy to use and remember. You can also go through the steps to increase your spam filters in this email account too.
5. Don’t Respond to Spam
Spammers are trying to get you to respond to their offers, or worse, fall for a phishing scheme. Hackers sometimes send malicious emails that download malware and viruses onto your computer. From there, your files can be encrypted and you’ll lose control of them unless you pay a ransom. You’ve probably heard about these ‘ransomware’ attacks occurring around the world.
However, even responding to spam that somewhat legitimate companies or marketers send is just an invitation for them to keep sending you more. Spammers can track to see if you opened and engaged with the email, and if you did, they’re likely to keep sending you follow-ups. If possible, don’t open spam at all. Just send it straight to your spam or junk mail and delete it forever.
6. Get SaneBox
It’s easy to lose track of spam when our business emails are spiraling out of control. Some people are pretty good at staying organized and setting up folders to keep everything in its place. This can also help your email account to recognize junk and filter it into your spam folder as appropriate.
SaneBox can also do this for you. You walk through a few steps to show SaneBox which emails are important and it will automatically sort that correspondence into the right folders. But it can also combine your important daily emails into one email digest called SaneLater that you can get to when you’re ready.
7. Get MailRoute
Today’s business owners need to stay vigilant against hacking and ransomware that can enter directly through their email. MailRoute works to remove spam, as well as viruses and other threats by “washing” and routing emails. The service works as a middleman between the internet and your email server to get rid of spam before it lands in your inbox.
When you sign up with any third-party service that promises to eliminate spam, check their track record and make sure they offer both inbound and outbound protection. They should also offer high availability so your email is never down when they’re undergoing maintenance or set up.
8. Don’t Post Your Email Address Publicly
Keeping your business email off of public forums and even your own website can help reduce some spam. Of course, you still want clients to find you and be able to contact you in the first place.
One option is to rely on email forms where people contact you directly on your website instead of manually sending an email to you. However, savvy spammers can still usually find your email address without too much difficulty. But this technique can sometimes stop bots from scraping your website and copying and pasting your contact information.
9. Block Email Senders
Keep spammers out of your inbox by blocking them from contacting you again. Although this isn’t a foolproof method for eliminating spam, it can help reduce the level of junk and noise in your inbox. If you’re using a service like Yahoo, go into your settings and select ‘Blocked Addresses’ from the lefthand side and simply enter the email address you want to keep out of your inbox. Some email providers will give you the option to block the sender right from your inbox.
Keep in mind a devoted spammer can simply register a new address and contact you again. But most spammers automatically send out a high level of spam to a huge list of people. They’re likely to just keep collecting and working through their emails. It’s still worth keeping a blocked email list going to keep your inbox tidy.
10. Hire a Virtual Assistant
If your business is growing to the point that your inbox is out of control and you could use help with administrative tasks, it might make sense to hire a virtual assistant. Task them with duties ranging from setting appointments to writing blog posts visitors actually want to read. You can also have them clean up your inbox, sort spam and make sure everything is ready to go before you ever log in. You can hire a virtual assistant on an hourly basis from a service like Fancy Hands to keep your costs and overhead low.
Spam is likely to always be an issue in your business email, but it can be kept to a minimum. It’s also a good lesson in running your own business with integrity. Make sure you’re only reaching out to people who signed up for your email list, and keeping the correspondence to a respectable minimum.
What have you found to be a successful way to stop spam from infiltrating your business email? Let us know by leaving a comment below:
Feature Image: Pixabay