Why Am I Getting So Many Unsolicited Emails?

Posted 16 November By Hanju LeeFAQNo Comments

Why Am I Getting So Many Unsolicited Emails?

You might be laughing at this subject line – why am I getting this unsolicited email to ask me about unsolicited emails? Well, first let me assure you that I am a real human writing a real email and that I am doing it to help you and not hurt you. Do you trust me?

As someone who works in digital marketing, I get this question a lot. Instead of “unsolicited emails,” people usually call it SPAM. (Special Processed American Meat)…wait, that’s the wrong acronym. But speaking of acronyms, we are still in our FAQ series, going through and answering the Frequently Asked Questions people have about the online world. So, let’s start.

Why do we call it spam? 

Back in the day…1970’s, some people (enormous geeks) started using the term “spamming” to apply to several different behaviors. According to Brad Templeton, who has done a very in-depth study on this writes: “The term spamming is used to describe flooding the computer with too much data to crash it, and another was to ‘spam the database’ by having a program create a huge number of objects, rather than creating them by hand. and the term was used to mean simply flooding an online session with a bunch of text inserted by a program, commonly called a ‘bot’ today.”

Why is spam still a problem today?

Back in 2004, Bill Gates from Microsoft famously said “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Well, according to some data out there, 70% of our emails are still spam. Why? It’s very complex and even if Microsoft changed the way the emails were handled, having them convince an entire industry to change it to a new standard for sending messages with anti-spam built-in features would be an impossible task. We just cannot stop someone or something from sending emails. So, spam continues to be part of our lives.

How do we deal with spam? I hate them.

Every email platform (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, iCloud, AOL) has been forced to develop better spam filters to block it. Although it’s not 100%, it captures a bulk of obvious ones and gives you the option to add your own criteria to capture the ones that it misses. Here’s an example of how to add a filter if you are using Google for your email service. Click here.

Is there something you can do to help eliminate spam coming from my website?

Great question and thanks for asking. Although we can’t outsmart bots that do what they do to scrape your website for information, we can try to not give them all the information they want, or make it harder for them to automate their process by adding more intelligent features to force the bots to think. Here are some of our fixes that have been successful in reducing (not eliminating) spam emails.

  • Remove all email addresses from your website. Basically, you create forms for people to submit questions/comments rather than giving them your email address. The form submits the answers and forwards them to your email.
  • Remove all online forms from your website. We don’t recommend this since this is pretty dramatic and defeats the whole purpose of your website generating leads. But, what we can recommend is adding a different type of form that takes you question by question. We use Typeform for this type of solution. Check it out here.
  • Add a reCAPTCHA on your forms. This makes the bot do extra work and can automatically filter out a bunch of dumber bots.
  • If the above reCAPTCHA isn’t good enough for your standards, there’s another that really makes the bots think and be more human-like. It’s the CAPTCHA Image Option. The problem with this is that it’s ugly and annoying for the real people (your potential customers) that want to fill out the form.

Most of our clients choose option 3 and it eliminates just enough spam to make it bearable.

I’ll close with one final question that is not frequently asked, but it should be:

Do you have a good recipe for Spam Musubi?

Here you go, straight from the SPAM website. If you’ve never tried this before, you’re welcome – I hope it makes your next dinner feel like a luau. Plus it kind of fits a philosophy I live by: “When life gives you spam, make Spam Musubi.”


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