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SPAM – A Common Sense guide

What is spam?

There are many different emails that are considered Spam.  Just because you are a legitimate organisation, it doesn’t mean that you can’t fall foul of your customers spam filters.   Any unsolicited or undesired mail can be considered as spam – whether the individual chose to receive emails from your organisation or not, they still have the option of marketing your email as Spam.

Who governs it?

It depends where your subscribers are based. Before you send an email to a subscriber who is based abroad, you must obey that countries spam laws – the onus is on your organisation to ensure you are acting within the law.

Ireland works within the guidelines and regulations set down by the EU.  Our Data Protection Commissioner enforces the data protection aspects of the Regulations and the Commission for the Communications Regulation (ComReg), is responsible for ensuring compliance with some technical and practical elements of implementing the Regulations.

So what if a few hundred people mark my email as spam?

Without going through the various technical aspects of how to get blacklisted, it’s important to remember that IT MIGHT ONLY TAKE one person in every thousand emails you send for an ISP to blacklist your organisation. “If a recipient says it’s spam (even if they opted in for it), then it’s spam. End of story.”

Know who your friends are:

Buying a database from a supplier is no way to engage with prospective leads. The biggest issue with these lists stem from the method in which they were collected often by crawling through websites and collecting data at random.  The other issues include the age of the data, the legal aspects of buying a list where the subscribers have not opted to share their data and the number of generic emails such as info@, web@, support@ etc.

Never just round up all your contacts and add them to your marketing list. First off, do you have permission? Legally, your database should consist of contacts that have opted into your list. This can also be said of the sales team – some may see it as their chance to “reignite” with failed prospects – or worse, previous clients! Be wary of where your data comes from and how you plan to use it.

Send Regular updates:

We’ve come across many subscriber lists that contain contacts who have opted in to receive email notifications……..two years ago and not received a single email. That just won’t work! You may have spent time collating all this data, but recipients have most likely forgotten what they signed up for and when they do get that “blast email” (a word we all hate), they flag the message as spam. Before you start sending emails to the list, why not re-introduce yourself with a short quick reminder of who you are and what you will be contacting them about.

Don’t make an exhibition of yourself :

Exhibition lists and data from membership organisations might be more relevant and current, but ultimately, buying in these lists is far from clever. Remember to ask yourself why you are contacting this audience and is your message relevant. It’s a good start to a better email marketing practice.

Email Blasts can blow up in your face….

We hate the phrase “email blast”, and everything associated with the unstructured and unplanned method of sending email. This is a sure way to boost your chance of being flagged as Spam, so avoid it at all costs. Email marketing is about targeting customers, who want to receive relevant content from an email service / sender that they have opted into.


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