Getting Control Of Your Email Is Important To Your Business Success

November 30th, 2016

In the past, we’ve talked about how getting control of your email is key to your business success. But just this week I’ve talked to several readers that have serious email issues and don’t even seem to know it. Here are the issues:

  1. Never put your email address anywhere on your website or in the clear on the web. SPAM bots scan the net looking for strings that are email addresses. So letting bots see your email address is one of the ways to get more SPAM. This is what contact pages are for. The reason contact pages have forms to fill out to send the email is so you can hide the email from those nasty little bots! Many people have their email addresses displayed just below the contact form. NO!
  2. Never use one of those e-mail verifier services to eliminate your SPAM! I’ve tried exchanging email with a reader that is using a service called Boxtrapper that rejected my response and wanted me to click on a verification link to prove I wasn’t a bot that was hard to find in the rejected email. It was a disaster! All I wanted to do was help the guy out but within minutes there was smoke coming out of my ears because his lame SPAM protection made it so difficult to answer him. I lost all interest in helping him. This is exactly what will happen to anyone else (like a client) who tries to talk to you.

The bottom line is: The way to eliminate SPAM is be careful where you put your email address and control and eliminate your SPAM with a trainable SPAM filter like Gmail has. I spend most of my life on email and I have little or no SPAM in my Inbox because I use Gmail and train it to put SPAM in the SPAM filter. It is simple and it works brilliantly! Gmail works better than Apple mail and other email readers because this kind of AI is Google’s core competency. It’s what they are good at. The technology to protect your Inbox is a lot like search.

 

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26 Responses to “Getting Control Of Your Email Is Important To Your Business Success”

  • Great advice Larry! Being a Realtor and real estate photographer, I love to use the Folio extension for my gmail inbox. It easily sorts your email by client or project. Once you get past the spam, this is a great free tool.

  • I disagree.
    Spam is not much of an issue anymore. Not that there isn’t a lot of it, but the mainstream email providers (gmail, yahoo, etc.) can filter it extremely well. Very little even makes it into my “spam” folder. I’ve never been shy about putting my email address “out there” and spam is a non-issue for me.

    And the “Contact” forms — ugh. I refuse to use them. When someone demands my name, email address, and (sometimes) phone number, but won’t reciprocate, then I lose interest fast. Especially for websites that are supposed to encourage people to make contact, an impersonal form is just another barrier between you and your customer. Being easily approachable and not hiding behind digital walls is important.

  • I agree with Scott. Never had much of an issue with spam by putting my email on my website. Actually, I get way MORE spam directly from my contact form. I use gmail and it is excellent at spam filtering.

    I don’t want any potential client to be discouraged from contacting me. Personally, I get extremely annoyed when I can’t find someones email on their website.

  • Those of you that believe spam is a non-issue or that there isn’t a lot of it probably have not had your e-mail address for very long. It took a couple years for my Gmail account to start accumulating lots of spam (glad it is good at catching most of it), and I have double spam protection on my business e-mail as it goes from my business server e-mail where it is checked for spam and virii and then forwarded to my Gmail account. So I don’t see a lot of spam in my message list.

    However, on a rare occasion, one makes it into my inbox. I was in IT as a technician and manager for forty years – I can tell you it only takes one. The ransomware that can be attached to messages from people you know is the biggest threat out there right now. Until several people have been hit and the culprit files have been submitted to the security analysts at anti-virus companies, they are virtually undetectable. They look like standard Word and Adobe PDF files. They are standard Word and Adobe files, actually. They just call macros that will eventually download the virus laden payloads from some server.

    Constant vigilance and suspicion of all attachments, no matter where they come from, is key. If you think there is little or no risk, well, you are complacent and at much more risk than you believe.

    If you post your e-mail on your website without obfuscating it you will be targeted eventually – it is just a matter of time before the spambots get to you. The way most spambots get your e-mail address is from other people’s e-mail. Real estate folks are really great at carbon copying everyone they know on e-mails and many have absolutely no idea about how to blind copy. Many of the people they carbon copy are other real estate agents who again just carbon copy and proliferate mountains of e-mail addresses. Eventually one of those messages goes to an infected computer and your e-mail address goes into a list.

    I have a contact form on my website, but I also display my phone number where it is easy to find. If someone doesn’t want to enter their own e-mail so I can reply to them, they can call. I use my e-mail as a tickler file. I never move anything out of the inbox until I have addressed it. I cannot make appointments while I am on an assignment, working with another client – I ask the caller to please e-mail me so I can address it when I get a break. I really detest scheduling by text message – I get probably 20 to 40 texts a day, short informational bursts, so I cannot manage them like e-mail.

    Gmail is the best non-corporate e-mail I have ever used – I also use the Google calendar. They are always available no matter what device I have. They are among the safest, too, but I still will not open an attachment without extreme suspicion first.

  • I’d disagree with the email on the website portion. The point of having a website is to provide enough information for a potential client to contact you. If that critical piece of information is left off you may run the risk of missing the client. Some folks are leery of filling out a Contact Form although I do get plenty of folks that do. I do not necessarily want clients calling me while out shooting as well. If a Realtor or homeowner is on site, it’s pretty bad form to be taking a call to discuss a new project while working another. In terms of Spam, use filters, unsubscribe, mark as spam, don’t click unknown links and you’ll be fine. If it sounds too good to be true it most likely is.

  • I have my email address all over my website and have never had a problem. Never had a problem with my contact page either.

  • What a lot of different experiences and solutions. Makes the head spin. It seems to me that it might help in conversations to break up the overarching term SPAM into a few different categories. l I receive a lot of unwanted email but they are from companies I have bought things from or a member of an organization that require an email address to send shipping and order information that they then piggy back later with announcements of specials and sales. I actually don’t think I can call that SPAM since I did give them my email address. BestBuy is one of the most prolific but then so is Amazon. Then there is the SPAM that I have not signed up for offering many things including in how to invest my over draft and how to improve my website amongst others. Those are the result of those web bots harvesting emails like a vacuum cleaner or sites selling their email lists. Google does a pretty good job of identifying these and I seldom see them although some get through like this morning’s that started with “Hey there . . .” which means it gets immediately hit with a SPAM label.

    Then there is the SPAM that carries viruses, malware and other smelly disgusting things. But I have McAfee that is pretty good at finding and isolating these things and I can use it to scan all my devices on my network. Last June I had a problem with clicking on a wrong link. I can only plead a long day and fuzzy brain as I saw a story on Trump being arrested. The next day it was Hillary. McAfee helped – a lot.

    I now have email alerts come through to my cell phone where I can delete them very quickly in small batches. When shooting, I have my ringer turned off. I hate to be interrupted by calls, emails and texts when shooting. As pointed out above, I think it disrespectful to deal with any of that when employed to be using my time focusing on and shooting a property. There is little that can’t wait for a break. Not only that, but since my mind tends to be totally occupied with the shoot, I would be less than attentive to switching my focus to something else and would be making mistakes in any conversations and then on my shoot as well. I am not a multi tanker. A fashion photographer I worked for in London never took calls when he was shooting for all these reasons. Actually he never took a business call at all having his studio manager take a message on who called and what the topic was so he could mull it over in his mind and then be able to give his full attention to the conversation when he called the caller back. Smart.

    Lastly, I use an image file created in Photoshop (or any app that creates images) with my email address on it which appears on my footer and header on most of my websites that is not linked. So bots cannot read it. So yes, people will have to copy type it but once they have it in their address book, its not a problem for them anymore.

    But what you can’t control is your address in someone else’s address book that can be hacked and then used to send appeals for money from a world traveler stranded in Nigeria with no way home.

    It too bad that so many people are killing the golden goose but the internet is here to stay and we become more reliant on it as time goes buy and as more people, mostly young, who use their phones as computers. So we must just learn to do our best to protect ourselves in an arena that is constantly changing.

  • Spam phone calls and spam texts though…

  • Such irony…

    For some time I have been receiving two (2) emails each day from PFRE… One delivered through Google and the second delivers from WordPress.com. Both come to the same address.
    I have attempted to unsubscribe from the Google delivery but the UNSUBSCRIBE button takes me to a GSTREET account that used to belong to my Son through his school… Which I can not access.
    How do we eliminate the redundant PFRE email coming through Google?

  • Sorry… That would be G Suite… Not G Street.

  • I agree with Reed Radcliffe. It is so important to have your contact information clearly outlined on your website. It doesn’t have to be an exact email address – but it can be a link to “contact us” “email us” etc. Also your phone number and legally you need an address asa the bottom of each page of your website. For people who have problems with privacy or Spam – there are free email services, postal stores with real street addresses and google even has a phone service to take messages or you could use grasshopper. In any case – you want your business to be found on the WEB!. As for Email and Disclosure laws and best practices – you should learn about these before it becomes an issue.

  • If your site has significant traffic, several hundred people visiting it a day, placing your email on the site will result in a significant level of spam. I will also 100% guarantee that the worst of the spam will not be blocked by filters. Filters will block the “I’m the king of notarealcountrystan and I want to give you 10 billion dollar” type stuff. They will not stop the spear fishing email spam. Those will come across as (example only)

    From: scott@photographyforrealestate.net
    Hey Neal,
    This is Scott. Here is that photo we were talking about. http://www.tunyurl.com

    Hope this helps,
    Scott.

    I received one today from what appeared to be my email provider. Per my standard practice, I never click on links from emails that I have not requested. Instead I contact customer support directly. It was a very, very really looking fishing email. I have seen similar ones coming from banks, loan companies, etc.

    But receiving spam is not the only problem with placing your email out on the web. It is common for crooks to use real emails harvested from sites to send out spam emails. The From address will be your email address, the name will be your site, but the reply address and links will go elsewhere. I receive hundreds of emails from real estate agents each year they never sent. So be smart, play save with your address.

    Now, if your site get 10 visitors a day, the chance that a spambot will find it is less. So you might be safe in the short term.

    There are also ways of placing you email on your site that make it harder for the spambots to find. Research and use them. Update and necessary.

  • I’m also a web developer. I manage over 40 sites with contact forms and exposed email addresses. Spam sent directly to the email addresses is rare. However, about once a month, hackers have overloaded the email accounts by filling in the contact forms several hundreds of times per hour with garbage info! I’ve recently started adding Google’s reCAPTCHA code to prevent this. So far, on the sites I’ve fixed with this, it’s working.

  • I agree with Scott, Suzanne and the others. I’ve had my email address for more than 20 years now and sure I get some spam, but so what? I don’t want to make it so hard to contact me that a potential customer goes somewhere else. And yes, my delete key still works quite well.

  • I’ve had my business email for 4-5 years now and I can’t recall EVER having a single spam message make it through to my account (gmail). My email is plastered on my website, facebook, manta, blogs, etc. etc. etc. Not saying this may be not an issue for some but I’ve certainly never experienced it. Also, I very strongly believe the harder you make it for people to reach out to you (i.e. contact forms) the less likely you are to get contacted. Anytime I see one of them I nope right out.

  • I’ve only had my domain name and email address posted publicly since 2005, so maybe the problems will show up in another 5 or 10 years?

    Seriously, a little common sense is in order. Don’t open attachments sent to you by Nigerian Princes. Frankly, I don’t have time or interest in opening emails or clicking links from anyone I don’t know. And again, modern email providers are incredibly good at removing the obvious crap, and shunting the “maybes” into a special folder (which I scan once a month or so — one time this year I found a “real” email in there). Same thing goes for my blog — Akismet removes tens of thousands of spam “comments” from my WordPress blog every year, before I even have to see them.

    If you’re really fearful of viruses and malware etc. — then there are some simple things to do.

    1) Stop looking at so much porn
    2) Don’t use Microsoft products in general, especially Office (FYI, Microsoft employees use Chrome more often than IE).
    3) As an add-on to #2, never, ever, EVER under any circumstances use Internet Explorer. Just delete it off of your computer, download Firefox or Chrome and watch the wonderful beautiful amazing world of the internet unfold before you.
    4) Even your domain-name email (like mine: scott@scotthargisphoto.com) can be run through Gmail — use Google Apps to set that up, costs me $8.33/month for 5 @scotthargisphoto.com addresses, which is more than I need for my little operation.

  • Email criminals are getting more and more sophisticated. For the most part they have move well beyond the email promising funds from long lost relatives or princes in Africa. They are now sending emails that look very, very real. They will appear to be from your bank, your mortgage company, maybe even your clients. While email spam filters can stop much of the spam and prevent many viruses from getting through, they are not 100%. So a policy of not clicking links in emails in a good one. In addition, don’t trust the “From” address. It is very easy to put whatever address they want there.

    That leads to a second reason not to place your email on your site. It can be harvested and used in the From field to send out spam to other people. This is a common practice and can cause some rather bad problems. If one of those fake emails just happens to reach a client, they are going to call and ask why you sent it. Or worse, if enough of your clients receive the fake email and mark it as spam, your email address could get black listed. That means that your emails start going to spam and not reaching your clients. That can be undone, but requires a lot of work and time.

    Talk to your web designer about methods of displaying your email that prevent bot from harvesting it. They will be able to make some good suggestions.

  • Well for once I have to agree with Scott here on all accounts. I’ve been running my business through Google pro apps for the $8.33 per month for the last 18 months and for me it’s a game changer, you’d be crazy not to. Google takes care of the spam thing for gmail hands down and I also agree put your name out there, put the email on your website I want to be reached, I want to be accessible and tangle to the public domain. Haha and yes as Scott says, point numbers 1-4 especially point 1 🙂 LOL.

  • Controlling your contact information is important, but to make the potential clients contact experience difficult will only drive them to another venue. No one likes to jump through a lot of hoops. Better to create filters, etc. that will deal with the spam. Same issues arise with the phone and now dealing with spam is a cost of doing business.

    Maybe it is just me, but anytime I go to a website and it forces me to enter my email, etc. before going on, I leave or give them some phony information. With the phone, I just block any spam calls. Phone companies have been getting better and providing blocking methods on cell phones. I used to block my number from view, but realized I was annoying my clients when they could not see who was calling. Land lines are a total joke now and until the people rise up and demand these companies provide blocking methods, for the telemarketers, it will continue. Why? Because they make a lot of $$$ from these scammers

    Bottom line, think about the actions you take to control spam and what will your client experience suffer for it. A fuzzy line there, so don’t hesitate to change from time to time to dial it in

  • Nowadays they say Internet Explorer is safer, but I still don’t trust it.

    Chrome browser with the Google apps works just fine.

    I like that we have so many technically apt people here – lots of great information.

  • I don’t trust Google at all. They got popped a couple of times for machine-reading email for ad targeting. If you are going to insist on using them, don’t use an @gmail.com address (or any free email service for that matter), that just looks very unprofessional. You should have your own website (FB or Flickr doesn’t count) and an email that reads yourname@yourdomain.com is much more appropriate.

    My web host has pretty good spam filtering that errors on the the side of letting a few thru so it doesn’t filter out honest emails. Apple mail catches a bunch more and I’m left with a a few each day to delete manually. If you aren’t suspicious of every odd email that you receive, get off of the internet before you lose your life savings. I don’t click on links in emails purporting to be from a financial company I use. If the mail looks legit, I’ll log into the site manually and see if there are any notices. If the institution has an email address to send phishing mails to, I’ll forward it to them. If attachments are not explained in the body of the email from somebody I know, they get deleted straight away. It’s usually a new exploit of Microsoft Outlook that sends malware to everybody in somebody’s address book.

    I have a contact form on my website, but I also have a .jpg of my phone number. I’d rather talk with somebody than to try and exchange emails. If I’m out working for the day, I don’t want a potential customer to give up waiting for me to get back to them via email. I answer my phone when I can and let a call go to voice mail if it’s not appropriate for me to pick it up. I use ringtones to code my callers. Friend’s and family have individual ringtones, business partner’s have their own and RE customers have a ringtone that lets me know it’s a RE client. If the caller’s number is not in my phone, I get a default ringtone. This lets me prioritize the calls that I am willing to pick up and at what time. An RE client calling me at 1am isn’t likely to get me to pick up but I will pick up or quickly check who’s calling while on one job just to make sure that it isn’t a call about the next appointment or the agent for the current job calling to make sure I’m there and working. Thinking back, all of the initial contacts I have from agents have been by phone. I may have had one or two by email, but no more than that.

    I don’t use my kennethbrown dot pro email addresses to sign up for anything. Those addresses are specifically for RE work and nothing else. This helps to limit the amount of spam I get in those mailboxes. There are clever spambots that will fill out contact forms, but I notice that a lot of the malware email has attachments which the contact form will not recognize. It might be possible to fool those bots by subtly renaming the contact form fields so they can’t detect where to fill in their information.

    Combatting spam is a constant battle and there will never be a way to eliminate it completely. As long as people click the links and happily provide information to the phishers, it will continue. All one can do is employ prudent strategies so that it doesn’t take too much time to clean up the few that leak through without losing honest communications.

  • Wow, hot topic! A lot of great insight! Gmail seems to have eliminated the issue of email SPAM. I agree with Tony… SPAM phone calls is a bigger problem than SPAM email.

  • Try the app Truecaller to eliminate spam cell phone calls.

  • @Reed – Thanks, I’ve downloaded Truecaller and I’ll try it out. I wish there was an alternative like truecaller for my home phone that is a Comcast line.

  • I miss the caller ID I used to have with a landline. It would not only give me the telephone number that was calling, but the name as well. All I get on my cell phone is the number if they aren’t in my contact list. Two steps forward, one step back.

  • I have yet to teach my mom to always put a subject on her emails and stay away from “Congratulations” and other words like that that appear frequently in spam. Unfortunately, my sister gave her a iPad and her emails have gone downhill since it’s harder to type on a tablet. She’s a very good typist on a physical keyboard. I need to get her an iMac. The bottom line is that many of mom’s emails wind up in the spam folder so it’s good that they don’t get deleted further up the line. And, for some reason, her emails will still go to the junk folder even though she is Whitelisted. I guess the messages still score too low. hmmmmm.

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