Understanding Spam Filtering Technology for Sending Out Emails

By: iCubes

More than 2/3rd of all emails send are spam! It is interesting how they do so and what makes them so. It will be really worthwhile to know what spam is before you could understand in depth what makes it constitute such a huge fraction of volume of the whole emails. Spam is very loosely defined by a combination of conditions. Any unsolicited emails are regarded as spam. Any mails which the user feels are irrelevant to them, annoying, sexually explicit, promotional and/or intruding their privacy could be labelled by them as spam. Even the mails you send in as bulk can easily be classified by the ESP as spam and end up straight into the spam folder. Understanding the spam filtering technology before sending out mails help you gather more insights in this pretext.

ESPs have their own mechanism based on a host of criteria that determine whether and email should land up in the inbox or other filter tabs or into the spam/bulk mail folder. This technology called the spam filtering technology and is usually predefined heuristic algorithms that are deployed on inbound as well as outbound mails which scans the entire email based on some attributes. They, in combination with the antivirus firewalls or malware filters which scans the email for malwares filters for phishing threats keep the email experience safe and nuance-free for the users. Spam filtering is important because a user needs to have important communication send to them in the inbox and never in the spam or bulk mail folder. Spam filter technology ensures that such messages like transactional messages or internal business communications should are placed in the inbox of the user. Also, it makes optimal use of the server space of the ESPs and saves cost as these messages are purged on a regular basis.

Spam filters are deployed at different strategic points of handling emails. A spam filter at the gateway of email reception deployed by the ESPs at the frontline at which emails get delivered to the company, called as gateway spam filters, before emails enter the system. They are physical servers and all emails should pass through it before entering this system. These spam filters could only learn only from the emails that are delivered to the company (Eg: Ironport from Cisco). Third party filters are deployed at the gateway or once the message gets past the gateway and has a decision making power of whether the emails should be delivered to inbox, spam, quarantine or should be blocked. Since these filters can learn from a large client database, they have access to a broad database to carry out decision making processes. (eg: MessageLabs) Desktop spam filters that are deployed at the user’s device are highly rigid filters which spams could pass through as this work on customized data from the user. Example for this type includes Outlook smart screen filters that use Windows Live Hotmail users’ feedback.

Spam filters work by continuous self-learning and it basically scans the whole of the message through algorithms that takes in thousands of data points. Typical areas which are scanned by spam filters include the message source (which is usually the domain and the IP of the sender), sender reputation, and the content that is being sent. The heuristics rules then assigns scores based on these parameters and determines the probability that the message is spam. Sending out emails from a technically configured permanent IP clears many of the sender authentication and IP permanence related problems of spam. The sender reputation is determined by a combination of factors like the quality of the list (list hygiene), volume and frequency of the mails send, the composition of the message, complaints received from the users and blacklist details from prominent blacklist sources.

Emails sent are scanned for spam at the content level as well. The content filters scan the message for a variety of parameters like code, images, URLs, subject line, header and footer, text to image ratio etc. and your message should meet the required criteria not to get caught by the scan filters if you want to send your users some relevant promotional content from your side. Email marketing service providers usually have sender and content scores which will help you ascertain how you would fare in relation to your sender reputation and content respectively. It will be worthwhile to note that these scores does not provide you any absolute guarantee that your mail will land in inbox, but gives you a relative idea whether your mail has met these requirements. Many other factors like those mentioned previously like your list quality or your mailing frequency will eventually determine the course of your email delivery despite having an above par sender and/or content scores.

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iCubes is an leading email marketing company in India catering to email marketing needs of the organization in any vertical. The services include Email campaign management, lead generation, Email marketing consulting, trainings & workshops. Highly experienced staff assists clients with state-of-the-art technologies, recipients’ expectations as well as in-depth analysis for the execution of a successful email marketing campaign.

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