As with most things, prevention is better than cure. Minimising email spam is just the same – follow the advice in this article and you should prevent those spammers from grabbing hold of your email address and bombarding you with junk emails from the beginning.
Why you should reduce email spam
Email spam affects your productivity. If you receive a large number of emails per day, it can take a huge amount of time distinguishing genuine emails from spam. This is a time burden you can do without – you should be spending your time answering emails and creating content rather than going through all your emails looking for ones from real people.
If you receive a large number of spam emails, you are more likely to miss genuine emails from your site’s users or from other contacts. By reducing your levels of spam, email communication is far more efficient and time effective.
Steps to take when setting up a site
Firstly – never publish a direct link with your email address on your website. This may have some degree of convenience for users but it will be picked up almost immediately by the email address harvesters that do the rounds online. If you want to provide a link to your email address, remove the hyperlink and take some basic steps to disguise it (for example, substitute the ‘@’ with ‘(at)’.
Unfortunately when you undertake such steps, you can confuse your visitors so this is not a step I would particularly recommend unless you know that they are Internet-savvy and understand how to decypher your real email address.
An alternative you can employ to prevent such confusion is an email contact form. Spammers may still be able to send you emails through this, so it is not always a complete solution. Ensure the contact form has some kind of CAPTCHA system in place, and that your email address is not visible in the code of the contact form.
If you don’t want to mess around with coding or finding a contact form for your site, you may want to try a free contact desk ticketing system such as HelpDesk Pilot.
Steps to take after your site is established
If you are currently being inundated with spam because the spam bots have already obtained your email address, there is only one 100% foolproof solution – change your email address.
This may sounds drastic, but I have done this myself to great effect. Simply remove all cases of your current email address from your website and install a contact form or contact desk software. Then, create an auto-responder for your previous email address to email your new address to all those that may contact you – I found that even when an auto-responder message would be returned to a spam sender with my new email address, it wouldn’t be recognised; the ‘From’ address is rarely monitored by a real person due to the volumes of emails that are sent. Finally, don’t forget to email those on your contact list with your new email address!
Of course, you can always install spam blocking software – if your host provides a server based option, ensure you activate it. I am wary however, of recommending any paid-for anti-spam service as you can often achieve similar results for free by following the steps I have detailed in this article. Remember also, that with anti-spam software you run the risk of blocking emails from genuine users.
The floor is open!
Did you reach the stage where you were inundated with email spam? What did you do to reduce it? What other steps would you recommend people take to reduce the amount of email spam they are getting? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.