Too many junk-mail false positives

Chances are that more than one-sixth of all the e-mail that you want to receive is being captured by anti-spam filters, whether by the ISP, at the server, or the desktop client.

That’s according to Lyris, the company behind ListManager, a popular tool for organizations who manage “opt-in” mailing lists. A study from Lyris says that about 18% of all invited e-mail ends up in junk-mail folders.

The company’s ISP Delivery Report Card makes fascinating reading. Two key takeaways:

• People consider any unwanted email to be spam or not — whether or not they used to want that e-mail, or correspond with your company in other ways. To quote from the report’s author, Stefan Pollard,

The definition of spam has moved beyond the legal requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act to include any message that is unrecognized, unexpected or unwanted. With the spam button, ISPs have given recipients control over who’s considered a spammer and who isn’t. This puts the onus on senders to overcome those hurdles with every recipient – to make their messages recognized, expected and wanted. Until they do, invited email will continue to be delivered to the bulk or spam folder.”

• In many cases, it should be easy to fix your messages, whether you’re sending out a newsletter or writing to your cousin in Des Moines. The study continues,

Lyris also ran 1,716 unique emails from the sample through a content score application using the Spam Assassin rule set to see how they measure against ISP spam filters. The top three most frequently triggered “red fl ags” were emails containing images with little to no text, a “from” name that isn’t real and messages that are 60 percent or more HTML.

“Several of the triggers stem from poor HTML coding and design, and can be easily corrected to improve inbox delivery,” said Pollard. “Message content doesn’t carry the same weight as sender reputation in determining where a message is delivered, but there’s still value in doing everything you can to tip the scales in your direction.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick