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Legitimate mail in spamfilters

It can be difficult and frustrating for a sender to understand they whys and wherefores of spam filtering. Clearly the sender is not spamming, so why is their mail getting caught in spam filters?
I have a client that goes through this frustration on rare occasions. They send well crafted, fun, engaging content that their users really want. They have a solid reputation at the ISPs and their inbox stats are always above 98%. Very, very occasionally, though, they will see some filtering difficulties at Postini. It’s sad for all of us because Postini doesn’t tell us enough about what they’re doing to understand what my client is doing to trigger the filters. They get frustrated because they don’t know what’s going wrong; I get frustrated because I can’t really help them, and I’m sure their recipients are frustrated because they don’t get their wanted mail.
Why do a lot of filter vendors not communicate back to listees? Because not all senders are like my clients. Some senders send mail that recipients can take or leave. If the newsletter shows up in their inbox they may read it. If the ad gets in front of their face, they may click through. But, if the mail doesn’t show up, they don’t care. They certainly aren’t going to look for the mail in their bulk folder. Other senders send mail that users really don’t want. It is, flat out, spam.
The thing is, all these senders describe themselves as legitimate email marketers. They harvest addresses, they purchase lists, they send mail to spamtraps, and they still don’t describe themselves as spammers. Some of them have even ended up in court for violating various anti-spam laws and they still claim they’re not spammers.
Senders are competing with spammers for bandwidth and resources at the ISPs, they’re competing for postmaster attention at the ISPs and they’re competing for eyeballs in crowded inboxes.
It’s the sheer volume of spam and the crafty evilness of spammers that drives the constant change and improvement in spamfilters. It’s tough to keep up with the spamfilters because they’re trying to keep up with the spammers. And the spammers are continually looking for new ways to exploit recipients.
It can be a challenge to send relevant, engaging email while dealing with spamfilters and ISPs. But that’s what makes this job so much fun.

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