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O*T*T s#p!am

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday August 18, 2007 )

Spammers bug the heck out of me, but watching their strategies evolve/devolve can be educational and often downright funny – their attempts can get way over the top. Unfortunately though, some who are new to email marketing try to take a leaf out of the spammer’s book using their old tricks… that for the most part don’t work any more.

I received this wonderful communication today, the subject line was:

“It fell to the ground, flopped its heavy head on the sand and started to die.”

…ooookay… I opened the email with great trepidation and here was the body text:

“N,o t o+n.l y d o-e s t+h i,s f i_r+m h-a_v’e gre,at f, b+u_t gett_ing t_h_i*s op’portunit.y at t’h_e ri’ght tim-e, r,ight bef ore t.h-e rall,y is w h’a+t ma*kes t*h_i,s d.e.a-l so sweet’! ”

So it was just a run of the mill pump and dump stock spam scam (try saying that fast).

I’d say this was a newbie spammer, but it’s still interesting that the body text is relatively readable even with all that extra character static.

I still see some small business owners and wannabe marketing gurus using this type of tactic even in legitimate emails as a way of attempting to get past spam filters. For example:

“This week we have a great f.ree bonus 0ffer!”

My advice is not to engage in this sort of strategy because:

a) It’s an old spammer’s trick and the reader may make a subconscious association that you’re one of them. It just puts up an extra wall for your pitch that doesn’t need to be there.

b) Spam filters are far more advanced than in years gone by – using terms like “f.ree” will probably score the same if not higher than “free” when being scanned.

Generally speaking, you *can* use words like “free” in marketing emails as long as you don’t overdo it and you include content that isn’t just exhorting someone to buy something, offering to make certain body parts larger or convincing them they can get rich just by pressing the letter “k” on their keyboard. There needs to be *information* to offset the hype – and not just some random chunk of text taken from Plato’s “The Republic” thrown in at the bottom of the email (another spammer’s trick).

Spam filters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and body content isn’t the be all and end all in filtering rules these days.

If you’re using one of the better mailing list services to send out your campaigns, they may have a feature where you can test your campaign’s likely spam score prior to sending. It’s wise to take advantage of this tool if it’s available.

Now, I must get back to my inbox, an email’s just come through that says I can flush 20 pounds from my colon. Dang, I didn’t know it could hold that much and I think if I lost 20 more pounds, my body would cave in. Sound like a load of sh*# to me ;).


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