Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

July 23, 2002• Volume 2 Issue 7

A good look at spam

It's taken me a while to 'understand' spam.

Oh, I've written about it. In some detail in this E-zine last November. (If you'd like a review, "click here" Spam ... more than what's in the can to go to the full article.) Still, as long as there is a 'delete' button on my keyboard, I've not had a big problem with it.

Spam is a problem. Earthnet reports of the 2 billion (that's 'B' as in Billion) E-mails that float through their system daily (that's 'D' as in Daily!), a full one-quarter of them are spam. Further, my WebMaster Bill Blinn, has taken a strong stance against spam (see his sidebar comments below). And taught me a lot - including why it's so different from "junk" direct mail - and other marketing mediums.

So, for a week late in May and another in June I kept track of all spam that arrived un-announced and un-invited into my E-mail mailbox. Just to see how 'bad' it really is. Not the content ... I did no evaluations this time ... the quantity only. This is what I learned.

The big boys, such as AOL and Earthnet and the like, do a little something to filter spam before it gets to you and me. I do not ... I use no filters. The kids in my life are long gone - so that isn't an issue. Sure, it might be possible to reduce the number of E-mails I receive every day ... I've decided I'd rather see what is happening then eliminate anything specific.

Within the first 48 hours of my test it was fairly obvious my spam came in just a few categories. To see if it made any difference, I began keeping track of 7 groupings by day of the week. As well as by category. This is what I received;

Day of Week & Day Total Sex
& Porn
Casino Insurance,
& Credit
& eads
Health &
Phone Others,
mixed bag
Sat ( 40) 5 1 9 10 3 1 11
Sun (28) 6 --- 7 6 --- --- 9
Mon (29) 4 2 9 8 1 --- 5
Tue (30) 6 1 6 8 --- --- 9
Wed (38) 5 --- 11 7 1 2 12
Thur (38) 3 3 10 7 2 2 11
Fri (41) 2 2 9 14 5 --- 9
Category & Week Totals
Wk (244)
31 9 61 60 12 5 66

The biggest surprise was there so little sex and porn aimed my way. Less than 13% of the 244 total messages. Ditto the telecommunications and casino people. For all the ink these 3 groups get I thought I'd receive a lot more. When I do this again I'll continue to count the sex category and gaming, not telecommunications.

In the catch-all category the biggest group was the travel industry. Enough to stand on its' own, with a dozen or more.

The people who have a money service to sell you are very active. Credit cards, mortgage and insurance especially. Next time I'll divide these into smaller units.

Those selling something were also in your face day after day. Most with products costing less than $50. Many offerings to help you fulfill your every office equipment need. Photography and entertainment/music brought another good size collection.

As I began I had no idea what day of the week I'd get the most spam. What happened was the weekends came on strong. Friday and Saturday were the big days. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday were the slowest, about equal each day. Wednesday and Thursday were the same - more than early in the week, less than the week-end.

In the beginning I kept track of the number of spam messages that arrived every hour. And then I stopped. Because there was no pattern. If there was any pattern it was pretty even all day and all night. Not a splurge overnight (which I'd expected). No more at 7 in the morning vs. 7 in the evening. Guess spam is "good" anytime of the day.

Let's change the pace ... what are the numbers? Which is what drives spam ... numbers. So, what are they? In a recent article about Land's End being bought by Sears, these statistics from Forrester Research where shared;

In the United States 126 million people are online, with 105 million E-mailing from home and 50 million sending e-mail from work. New campaigns feature video games, coded coupons and streaming audio and video, as well as tracking E-mail forwarding is commonplace.

On the business side, companies poured $927 million into E-mail marketing in 2001 ... up 87% from 2000. The Direct Marketing Association says two-thirds of these companies reported increased overall sales from their E-mail efforts. Last year E-mail generated 15% of online sales, up from 3% in 2000.

With numbers like this spam can be - and is! - big business.

The first week of my study was from late May. Now let's look at a week in early June. Where I expanded the categories, based on the earlier week. Same 7 days, beginning on Saturday, ending the following Friday.

Day Sex Casino Credit/ money Mortgage Insurance Gen
Office stuff Home entertain Health
6 2 3 2 3 8 4 4 5 4
7 3 6 --- 3 5 1 1 5 1
5 --- 5 --- 1 7 5 2 1 5
4 2 4 3 2 10 12 --- 3 6
7 2 5 6 --- 5 8 2 1 20
5 1 3 2 --- 6 3 5 1 11
4 1 6 3 3 9 2 7 4 8
38 11 32 16 12 50 35 21 20 55

Right away I see a difference between week one and week two ... categories. What happened one week did not happen two weeks later. Have no idea why. Different categories made an impact.

Something the same were the financial messages (credit, mortgage, insurance). When grouped together in week two they equal 60. Week one they were 61

The catch-all category in week two included a number of automobile products and services. Several contests were offered. Travel dropped to 3 or 4 offers. Travel was a group that was much bigger in week one - close to a dozen messages. It could be these spam guys know something the rest of us don't. My guess is they're just throwing mud at the wall.

What I also noticed was a "steady" supply through-out the day. About the same number arrived overnight (I usually check first about 5:00am), in the business morning until noon, early afternoon, evening, and then after dinner. Not sure what this says ... except these spam guys are working 24/7/365. Of course, since spam arrives from time zones around the world, my morning is your evening. Probably doesn't say anything.

The next difference between these two periods was early June offered a larger supply of the stuff than late May. There was a 14 day break between; the first before the 3-day Memorial week-end, and the second afterwards. And it took just 6 days in week two to equal 7 days of week one (243 to 244).

School was out for much of the country during the first week - for almost all of it by the second. Don't really think that had anything to do with it - yet, I really don't know. Maybe summer brings more opportunities. Business is fairly busy as summer begins - the real slow down doesn't begin until the Independence Day 4th of July week-end. So, I don't think that mattered much, either.

Another difference was the heaviest day of the week. Friday with 41 and Saturday with 40 were the busy days in week one. Week two saw Wednesday with 56, Friday with 47 and Tuesday with 46 as the most active days. Over 51% arrived in 3 days. And, every day save Thursday in week two had more action then the comparable day in week one.

Each week had several days when a "major" category had no spam. This is a surprise - you'd think these guys would demonstrate persistence by day of the week, too ... they do not.

Six weeks ago USAToday offered a double editorial about spam. Neither being "for it" - yet, one suggesting patience and the other an out right and immediate elimination. Well, I'm not for it either. I'm also not for most of what is offered on television - the programming is worse than most of the commercials. I don't like what I hear on every radio station. And most magazines don't get to my mail box.

Most certainly I don't engage in a meaningful dialogue with every telemarketer ... they are gone in 7-8-9 seconds, if I "read" I am not interested. Every piece of direct mail does not get read - although all do get looked at. Most of the sales promotion displays at the market are not for my eyes.

Still, I'm not as anti-spam as many. Yes, I do understand the other side - I am not that extreme. "Get a life" is a phrase sometimes tossed at those who pick and nag and complain and fuss and stew and generally become a pain about something the listener feels is not all that important. I'm closer to that side of this line than let's get rid of all the bad guys. One reason being - that just isn't going to happen ... no matter what we do.

When I was 20 & 21 once a week I rode 45 miles from the University to my dad's office. He took me too lunch and we "talked". Business and school things. Man stuff. On one of my visits I was waiting in his lobby when a salesman walked in and asked the receptionist to talk with the GM. In a few minutes dad walked out - he and the sales rep talked for 2-3 minutes ... and the meeting was over.

At lunch I asked dad about it. Why did he even talk to this guy if he didn't have an appointment? His answer is for the history books - and ends this article. Dad said; " I always talk to people who come to see me. They may know something I don't know".

Maybe, just maybe, your spam will teach you something you don't know. Maybe!

... and a Side-Bar spam comment. Or two.

A dozen plus years ago I met this guy; Bill Blinn.

I was presenting at a direct marketing meeting - Bill was about. We hit it off - and stayed in touch over the next 3-4-5 years.

One day Bill called. He told me I needed to have a presence on the web. And he'd get me up. The cliché is "... and the rest is history". In this case, that cliché is true.

Today we work together on a number of projects. He shares much with me - I with him. So, it was natural to ask Bill for his thoughts for an-E-zine with a feature on spam. Bill, of course, said "yes". Here is what he has to say ...

Legislate spam away? I don't think so.

As much as I detest spam, I don't buy the argument that it can be legislated away. But when a topic hits USAToday, you know it's a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. And most people don't like it.

In the past day, I've received the following "offers". I note the country of origin in parentheses. The country of origin can be easily determined by looking at a message's Internet routing headers; in fact, that's the only way to figure out where it came from because most spammers forge the "from" and "reply to" part of their messages.

The slop bucket overflows with:

  • Two medical warnings that included a pitch for a worthless and possibly harmful "medicine". (Australia)
  • Many offers for 100 million e-mail addresses. (Most from China and Korea; a few from the US)
  • Two illustrated messages for 4 porn sites. (US, Korea)
  • Two offers for a program that harvests ("steals") e-mail addresses. (China, Korea)
  • An offer from an "erotic photographer" who prefers "young subjects". (Russia, Korea)
  • An offer for "incest pictures". (Netherlands)
  • An offer for cheap toner cartridges. (Korea)
  • Several casino offers. (US, India)
  • Two offers for "cheap Viagra". (Netherlands)
  • Numerous offers for "hot babes live". (Hungary)
  • Lolitas on-line. (South America, country not clear)
  • At least a dozen offers for "human growth hormone". (One was sent via the US military "Defense Net", which apparently has an open relay.)
  • A dozen or more offers for "life insurance quotes", most of which were made to appear to be coming from Canada. (Actually, they were from Italy, Russia, and China)
  • Lots of offers for "Noni juice". (Nearly all from Korea)

Well, you get the idea. A total of 81 messages in less than 24 hours. Nearly all of them for products that are useless at best. Call me overly cautious if you want, but I'm not about to buy "medicine" from somebody who hides behind a fake address, uses a one-time "drop box" to retrieve replies, and steals mail transport services to send me a message.

Despite all this, I'm still not suggesting legislation is the answer. Laws can be passed making spam illegal, but a lot of spammers (even though they're located in the US) use spam-friendly operators in China, Korea, and Russia. In other cases, they use "open relay" systems (computers that don't much care who uses them) that are rampant in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and much of Asia. US colleges also have a terrible record regarding open relays.

There are organizations that identify open relays and make this information available on a subscription basis. If your Internet service provider and mine subscribed to these services and used the information to set up mail blocks to stop mail from known open relays, spam would drop dramatically.

And if those same organizations identified "spam friendly" service providers and blacklisted mail from them, the legitimate users would force the service providers to eliminate the spammers. About a year ago, an Internet service provider refused mail I sent to one of its subscribers. A quick check revealed that my website host had been identified as hosting a spammer.

I was on the phone within 10 seconds to the company that hosts my website. By that time they identified the spammer and terminated the account under the "terms of service" that nearly every website provider has (but some don't enforce). In less than a day the problem was solved. The ISP that has 100 honest paying customers and 1 spammer will be more than happy to get rid of the spammer.

So my theory is that ISPs could stop spam without anybody's help if they wanted to. In fact, AOL could probably do it alone by:

  1. Refusing all mail from any computer that's been determined to be an open relay, and
  2. Refusing all mail from spam havens (Russia, China, and Korea are the worst) until those countries clean up their acts.

If AOL, Mindspring, Time Warner, and the various Baby Bell ISPs worked together to block spam, the spam would be gone. Until then, all you can do is use a program such as SpamKiller or JunkSpy. These programs examine your inbound mail and sort it into two categories -- junk and good mail. Sometimes spam gets through and sometimes a good message shows up in the trash. So you must at least glance at the messages that have been identified as spam to see if you want to pull any of them out of the trash.

Anti-spam legislation is a bad idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we don't need more laws. Some state attorneys general (with New York's attorney general in the lead) are going after big spammers who are breaking existing laws. When you con consumers, you're breaking the law. But what if you pass a law that makes spam illegal in the US? All the spammers will open accounts in Korea or China. And what would that accomplish?

Contact your Internet service provider. Tell them you want them to work with other ISPs to identify the source of spam and to reject mail from those sources. The patchwork of weak anti-spam efforts by most ISPs (with some notable objections) have little effect on spammers. Only a concerted, coordinated effort will get the job done.

What's Next?
... from Monday, December 17, 2001 B.C.

I'm ready to share this "new" concept with you.

And I'm ready to do it today. To book an hour or two or three to give you this different, interesting, meaningful, warm and true action presentation. To your club. Your company. Your organization. Your association. Any group you have.

A true and "live" message. It shares putting things in perspective. i.e., first things first. You know, like many of us (including me!) don't do. At home or the office.

This presentation is about how each of us, in our business lives and personal lives, will get more out of life when we re-arrange our thinking. When our actions mirror what we know we should do. Many think one way - act another. This set is about how to do what we know we should - and do it every time.

Interested? E-mail me ... Ray@RayJutkins.com and let's make it happen. Look forward to hearing from you. Soon.

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Everyone can learn.

And those of us who've been in business more than a day and half ... well, we can learn, too. Many times I find myself being reminded of things I know ... and forgot. Or at least forgot to use. Knowing and doing are two completely different things. See the Anonymous quote below for another view of this thought.

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Far too often we're taught a theory - and not what to do with it. It happens academically, and in business, too.

Anonymous has an interesting thought on that subject;

"In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, theory and practice are different."

"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.


Magic Marketing Minutes

Each week I'll share with you a different direct mail marketing tip.

If you're not using direct mail, maybe you should!

No matter, many of these ideas work for other media, too. Read, and give 'em a try. If you are making direct mail a part of your marketing - EnJoy!

Why Admail?

Admail works as a business tool. Either solo with no other tools...or as a complementary medium. Especially with advertising, marketing, merchandising and public relations disciplines.

Here are 10 reasons why Admail can work for you:
  1. Admail allows you to identify your audience specifically and to talk to them personally.
  2. Admail allows you to segment to only your very best prospects and customers.
  3. Admail allows you to position your product in the marketplace, to fulfill a specific market need.
  4. Through Admail you can speak in the language of your identified and segmented audience.
  5. Admail permits you room to tell your whole story...and to sell your product or service.
  6. Admail provides you the opportunity to use the effective emotional appeal, combined with reason, that is so necessary in gaining any sale.
  7. Admail provides you with an action device to get your audience to respond. A response card, an application, coupon, telephone number, a fax number, some way for the audience to respond.
  8. Admail provides you with a means to build long term customer relationships. With repeat contacts to your best audience. You will begin to build customer service through Admail.
  9. Admail allows you to test new ideas, new offers, new concepts, new products, new marketplaces, new everything.
  10. Through Admail you may analyze your results by individual market segments. You will know what happens because Admail gives you the means to know what happens.
10 reasons why Admail can work for you in your business. Try it!

For more marketing tips, visit http://www.rayjutkins.com/mmm/.

The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

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