Hate Spam? Change Your Email Service

If your company has scaled back on customer emails or switched to using social networks for communications, it’s probably time to start giving email another look. These days, if your customers want to see your communications, they probably will. And you don’t want some third-party social networks to own your customer relationship, especially now, with all the spammers migrating to social networks to try to evade the spam filters.
I only get a couple of spam messages a day. And it’s not because I keep my email address secret — it’s right there, in plain text, on my Website, in my email signature, and in every forum where I post.
No, I’m getting less spam because spam filters are getting really, really good. Take my spam folder — there are 150 messages in it. That’s all that came in over the past 30 days — a very doable number to glance through once in a while. (Each time I do, I never find anything worthwhile, and I have been checking it less and less frequently.)
Another reason for spam reduction is that most spam is stopped at its source. Firms sending legitimate mass mailings are obsessive about keeping their lists spam-free. Newsletter subscribers have to opt in and confirm their subscriptions, and unsubscribe buttons are clear and effective. Other mass mailings are filtered out by the networks themselves. there was a steady decline in spam messages over the course of 2011, from almost 40 messages per second at the beginning of the year to fewer than 10 at the end.
And it gets even better. The email service I use, Google Apps, sorts my email into important and unimportant. we read and respond to the important messages. The unimportant ones — newsletters that we only read occasionally, MeetUp updates, discussion lists — I just glance through, pulling out the ones I want to read. Keeping up with my inbox has gone from a massive chore to a breeze. I no longer filter my emails into different folders with specialized filter rules, nor do I use any of the other time-consuming tricks I used to need to control the inflow of information.
I still have friends who complain about spam. They tend to have older email providers, and they use Outlook or — gasp! — Eudora to read their email. They set up fake accounts for Website registration and dedicated addresses just for newsletter subscriptions.
Not me. It all comes to one place, and I no longer worry about giving my email address to anyone. I’m confident the stuff I want to see will get through, and the stuff I don’t — won’t.
If your employees are still struggling to deal with spam, maybe it’s time to take another look at your email service provider. (Besides Google, Microsoft’s Hotmail has good spam filtering for consumer emails. And there are others out there, too.) Good services will stop spam — and viruses and other bad stuff — before it comes anywhere near your corporate network. This improves both productivity and security. And the enterprise-focused vendors will offer compliance and auditing tools, as well.
Switching to a new email system is not an easy process. I was very annoyed when I had to give up my Outlook and switch to Gmail, but I needed a low-cost system that allowed me to access my inbox from a variety of computers — one I could extend to my employees. I struggled with the difference between folders and labels during the first few weeks. But then I began to notice some benefits other than portability. For example, it takes Gmail less time to find an old letter and bring it up than my desktop computer takes to find a file on its hard drive.
I wouldn’t have switched if I didn’t have to, and I am sure that plenty of other people and companies are in the same boat. Switching is a pain. But if your vendor isn’t investing in improving its anti-spam systems, it’s time to start looking for an alternative. You want to migrate on your own schedule, and you don’t want to be forced to migrate because the vendor is going out of business.

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