As you may know, our Live Rent Free for a year winner almost lost £7,072 because her junk email filter junked our email. In fact, had we followed our competition terms to the letter she would have. This has inspired me to get on my soap box and explain why you should never use junk mail filters and how, if you look after your email, you should never have need for them anyway.
I learned my lesson years ago. At the time I didn’t look after my email (as I didn’t know how) and so felt I needed junk filtering on my email program. One day a renewal email for an important domain I owned got junked and I lost the domain forever as a result. That’s the point: it only takes one of these incidents to make it worse than not worthwhile using these filters. And it is not a question of if it will happen to you, but when. Because it is impossible for them to be 100% accurate and that fact will never change, however sophisticated they become in the future.
For the last 7 years I have used the same email address extensively every day and have never used junk filters nor needed them. Here are my tips for junk free email:
1. Unsubscribe, don’t junk
First off you need to know that there are 2 types of ‘junk mail’
- Unsolicited (email you didn’t ask for)
- Solicited (email you did ask for, whether you realise it or not).
Often the line is blurred between the two because we forget what we sign up for, or hit the wrong opt in/out button when signing up for something, and/or companies aren’t always as clear as they could be about where the email is coming from and why. Despite popular myth, you’re very unlikely to get emails of the first variety through signing up to websites you come across in your day to day web usage. Most of these sites are law abiding and if you just follow the unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of their email, you shouldn’t hear from them again (though don’t be too hard on them if it doesn’t work first time – we’re all at the mercy of computer systems and their little kinks!)
2. Never use sites that publish your contact details publicly
You WILL get put on spam mailing lists. We’re referring mainly to certain classified ads sites (mentioning no names, but one large one in particular who really ought to know better considering they are owned by a global corporation), who either publish your email publicly for you, or allow you to put it within your ad description. There are ‘robots’ that trawl such sites lifting any email addresses they find and building mailing lists for unscrupulous companies to use to peddle their viagra and penis extension kits!
3. Make a clean slate
If you’re already plagues by proper spam (i.e. the unsolicited variety), you may be better off changing your email address and starting again. These mailing lists don’t follow the unsubscribe rules, so once you’re on, it’s a lifetime membership!
4. Choose your email address wisely
If you do decide to set up a new email address, think carefully about what you use as this can affect the likelihood of receiving spam. Beware that if you use a common service, such as hotmail, that spammers use automated tools that try 1000s of common first & last name combinations etc before the @ sign. However, this technique is less effective and so less common than the one in tip 2. This is because it results in a large number of non existent email addresses, which give email providers a heads up to a likely source of spam so blocking it before it gets as far as your inbox.