Friday, April 6, 2007

How To Fight Spam, Both Personal and From Your Web Site - Part 2


We will continue last month's discussion of how to control email Spam.

The Cost of Spam

In 2003, The Washington Post reported that Robert Mahowald, research manager for IDC, said his firm estimates that for a company with 14,000 employees, the annual cost to fight spam is $245,000. And, he said, "there's no end in sight."

By 2004 the cost of Spam was estimated to cost an average of $1,934 per employee a year based on lost productivity, according to a survey released Monday by Nucleus Research Inc.

In 2005, messaging market-research firm projected the cost of Spam to be $17 billion in the United States and $50 billion worldwide. These figures reflect the productivity loss to the diminishing number of business users without spam filters, the cost to purchase and administer anti-spam systems, and time wasted dealing with spam that gets through and with legitimate messages that have been misidentified as spam.

The above figures ignore viruses and spyware that often is attached to the Spam email. Consumer Reports estimates that American consumers spent almost $8 billion for computer repairs, parts and replacement over the past two years as a result of viruses and spyware alone. If you add the cost of phishing e-mail scams and the figure is probably double.

Obviously lost employee productivity dealing with Spam takes a toll of the profitability of mortgage web site owners as well.

Spam Control Via PC-Based Software Integrated With Your Email Program

Smaller companies can buy specific software like Cloudmark SpamNet or Qurb for Outlook, or Spamnix for Eudora, all of which integrates with your email program. You can then approve/deny email as it arrives. Once you block or allow (whitelist) someone, the rule will always apply.

For me, the result is 99% of all spam never gets into my in-box, and if it does, I add a filter, and if something gets kicked out for spam that shouldn't be, I add a filter to allow it to pass through all the above.

If you still use AOL for your email, there is a control panel to allow you to set the degree of email you receive and also to only allow emails you approve in advance to be received. I use this feature with my teenage daughter's account. If she receives an email from someone outside the whitelist, then that email never reaches her in-box. The only downside to this is that desired email from a friend will be blocked unless that email is pre-approved and added to her whitelist.

Gosh, That Sounds Like A Lot of Work

Some people initially have said that it seems like a lot of work to install software programs; then to manage the email you receive. Of course there is some work involved, I spent maybe 1-2 hours setting up the software then doing my initial whitelist, but now all I spend is about 10-20 minutes a week, adjusting filters when a client is added or a Spam email gets through.

And I now save at least 3-5 hours a week in no longer having to review so much Spam in my in-box, it has been a great return on investment, let alone a return on sanity and annoyance level.

Free Email Accounts Are Tacky

One more comment on the free email services such as AOL, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail; NEVER use them for your business reply email. The use of a free email account is tacky and appears unprofessional. Generally people who use the free email services have to because they don't have their own business web site. If you have a business URL, use it. Why would you want to be LoanDude1986@hotmail.com when you can be Robert.Jones@MyMortgageCompanyName.com?

Also, many ISP email servers assign "Spam" points to the free email services as they are more likely to be from Spammers. This may impact how much of your mail gets through to your clients.

I want to repeat a comment from last month's article which probably can have the greatest impact on controlling Spam to your employees.


Spam Control Via Server

Ask your mail server provider if they have any Spam fighting software on your hosting account. In my case, Pair.com has highly effective filters (light to heavy duty), screening 99% of the email at the server so I don't end up having to download to my computer. Another feature they offer is to automatically insert the phrase **JUNK** in the subject line, before the subject line. You can set up an Outlook or Eudora filter that looks for **JUNK** and puts that in a Junk folder for easy review. If an email get labeled **JUNK** and it really isn't, I easily can go to the server control panel and "whitelist" the email address it came from and tell it not to insert **JUNK** in the subject.A tip: When reviewing a Junk folder sort the subject by alphabetical order, you can review just the subject lines, as many times the same subject line is used by several senders, and it speeds the review. Also if you sort by subject you never have to open the email - just look at the topic and delete.

Using a Family Domain Name

You can purchase a domain for the use of your family for about $8 per year and then, depending on where you purchase the domain, you can get multiple email accounts included with your purchase. This way you can have email addresses specific for each family member, i.e., Daughter@MyFamilyName.com, Son@MyFamilyName.com, Dad@MyFamilyName.com, Mom@MyFamilyName.com, etc.

Slow Conversion

If you do opt to acquire a new email name, be sure to keep your old email account active for at least six months to make sure everyone who emails you gets to you. Don't reply from your old account and when you do your announcement, send emails from both your old and new account saying that you have a new account.

Spam Forever?

Spam is not going away for awhile. As technology improves, so will the Spammers ability to evade technology. In the interim use common sense and implement anti-Spam safeguards as necessary, which should lower the cost to you and your mortgage business.


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MortgagePromote.com is a leading Internet marketing web site that provides hundreds of articles & information tips on web site promotion, search engine marketing and search engine optimization; to help loan officers & mortgage companies increase their online sales. Aries and Farris has been providing nationwide mortgage leads & Internet marketing services since 1998.
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For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published November 2006.

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