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BizReport : Email Marketing : December 09, 2009

Internet Marketing 101: How to improve email in 2010

Don't forget your white-hat messaging tactics in the New Year, email marketers. According to a new report from MessageLabs 2010 could see email marketers have even more trouble as spammers become smarter and start working even harder. If your email list knows how you operate from the beginning the chances they'll fall for a spammers tricks will shrink.

by Kristina Knight

"2009 was the year that the threat landscape sharpened its skills, rather than just relying on large spam runs and malware attacks. We intercepted more variants with increased sophistication, efficiency as well as improvements in technology," ">said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Symantec. "We stopped more than 21 million different types of spam campaigns in 2009, more than twice the amount seen in 2008, and saw a 23 percent increase in malware variants year-on-year. The significant increases suggest that, thanks to the increased availability of specialized criminal toolkits, it was easier to create, distribute and use spam and malware than ever before."

Looking behind, MessageLabs tells us that 2009 saw an average annual spam rate of nearly 88%, that is a full 6% higher than 2008 as spammers and botnets figured out how to work even smarter. Year over year malware variants increased by nearly one-quarter (23%).

One thing marketers need to watch for is CAPTCHA issues. Spammers have developed CAPTCHA breaking tools which enable them to create many unique webmail, IM and social network accounts in order to spam consumers. Some companies are actually employing people to create these accounts and then hand them over to a spammer.

Another issue: in email links. Just over 90% of spam in 2009 contained a hyperlink or short URL; these shortened URLs were used to redirect consumers to harmful sites where their identity could be stolen or their accounts information stolen.

Finally, search 'hot spots' such as H1N1 flu, Patrick Swayze's death and the Taylor Swift/Kanye West snafu were all used by spammers to reach consumers.

"Although sophistication and innovation are at the forefront of some of the attacks we see, predictability also plays a large part of the day-to-day threat landscape," Wood said. "The security industry as a whole talks about themed attacks, such as those surrounding Valentine's Day, Christmas, and celebrity deaths, however, the frequency and volume of these attacks suggests that the cyber criminals are still achieving the results desired or their tactics would have changed."

Looking ahead, having your white-hat tactics ready to go could be the one positive that email marketers have in their corner as 2010 dawns.

First, marketers need to work with an authentication service. Allowing consumers to see from the second an email arrives that it is legitimate helps with open rate and emails improperly identified as spam.

Second, stick to your Welcome Message information. Inform consumers how often you'll email, what you'll email and what type of information you will or will not ask for in a message. Many consumers still fall prey to spammers asking for confidential information or account numbers.

Third, to start off the New Year, it isn't a bad idea to refresh your email list by sending out a "Welcome to 2010" type message. Remind the consumer why they signed up, what you offer and what you will - or will not - ask for in future messages. Give them a reason to stick with your brand - like free shipping or an online coupon - and thank them for their upcoming business.

Tags: email forecast, email marketing, email marketing campaign, email messages, email welcome, MessageLabs, white listing tactics

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  • I think the key is to have segmented lists, and customize the emails to your different segments if you can. The more personal and relevant the information, the more success you will have with your open rates and conversion rates.

  • That's a great suggestion. Sending an email at the start of any given year or even season can refresh minds and focus purchasing decisions. Including a coupon or other item of value can help too - just don't make it something like "buy 4 get 1 free" because then it looks like you're being disingenuous.

  • The significant increases suggest that, thanks to the increased availability of specialized criminal toolkits, it was easier to create, distribute and use spam and malware than ever before."



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