Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Web 2.0 Invites & Spammishness

Getting kind of addicted to LinkedIn’s Question & Answer area, and a couple of questions are around “why are my web2.0 emails considered spam.” I explored a little bit last post about why my email servers think Plurk invites are spam.

Invitational emails are that strange gray area of promotional and transactional- like “forward to a friend” functionality that some find spammy. Similar to “forward link” or “forward article” to a friend, many of these friends don’t appreciate their email being stored on NYTimes’ site forever, for example. Some sites explicitly say “we will not remember this email”- but otherwise it’s a little unclear, unless you read the fine print, exactly what a company will do with your friends’ emails.

That paragraph was to explain why precious Web2.0 emails are considered, at times, spammy. Another common reason: the site uses the source-friend’s email address in the “from”. This will set off problems with spam filters that look for a resolution between the From address and the real sender domain. If those don’t match up, it’s in the spam folder. So, don’t spoof the email to get automatically white-listed, it won’t work.

Use of “no-reply”- I don’t like this feature as it seems to take the position that the site can shoot out emails, but not handle any unsubscription/deletion requests, like it’s a one-directional firehose. I don’t know how SpamAssasin treats this, but I did notice the Plurk address was that way. What they should do is setup a simple unsubscription filter on the reply, like almost all GNU mailing list apps can handle, and a forward to customer service or some inbox that spits an autoresponder out “We got your email and we’re going to answer within X days,” with a list of helpful site link.

Plurk especially is missing out on a great opportunity to leverage the cutesy UI and design, by sending out these barebones text-only emails that aren’t even making it through spam filters (which really is the point of text-only transactional emails, in my mind.)

I know how these emails get built- been there!- an engineer (me) somewhere rolls out the new feature, “let’s let users invite friends by email!” and nobody checks the content of the email minus a cursory copywriter edit, and out it goes into production. Decisions like sender “real names,” domains, etc. are made on the fly by someone who can send themselves a message, so it must work! No monitoring on the systems, no ability to tell if the emails are going out, or how they’re being viewed. It’s a toughie, and not unique to any single system.

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Written on Tuesday, 17. June 2008 at 06:53 In the category social networks, spam, transactional emails. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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1 Comment »

  1. [...] Anna Billstrom writes about why your social media invites might end up in the spam box, and gives us all some tips on how to do it better. [...]

    Pingback: A few new posts and apps to consider | Social Media Club – 17. June 2008 @ 12:43 pm

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