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Friday, July 28, 2006

U.S. Tops List of Global Spammers - 24% of global spam is from good ol' USA

According to this Yahoo news article , the US is still the top dog in the world cup of spamming. For your fantasy spam leagues, keep an eye out for those Chinese and South Koreans. Check out the less than encouraging news...

For the first time in over two years, the United States failed to reduce the amount of spam, placing it at the top of the list of spam-relaying countries, according to a report released by security firm Sophos. Spammers in the U.S. are responsible for 23.2 percent of spam received by Sophos' global network of spam traps, up from 23.1 percent in the first quarter of 2006.

China follows the U.S. in the number-two spot with 20 percent of global spam, while South Korea rounds out the top three with only 7.5 percent. Both these nations, Sophos said, have reduced the amount of spam originating from their countries since the security firm released their first quarter report. At that time, China was responsible for 21.9 percent of spam worldwide.

"Since the introduction of the CAN-SPAM legislation in 2004, we've seen a regular quarter-on-quarter drop in the proportion of spam coming from the U.S. -- until now, that is," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Spamming the Globe

The bulk of the world's spam is relayed by "zombies," or botnet computers, hijacked by Trojan horses, worms and viruses under the control of hackers, Sophos reported. PC owners are generally not aware that their PCs are being used to send spam.

One of the tricks spammers use to disguise their activities and reduce their chances of having their "collar felt by the long arm of the law," according to Cluley, is to not use their own computers to send the spam. Instead, they relay their spam through innocent people's computers.

"So, for instance, spammers in Russia could exploit poorly protected home computers in America to send out their advertising messages," Cluley explained. "Aunt Hilda could be sending out adverts for performance-enhancing drugs without being aware of it."

Although Russia did not rank in the "dirty dozen" of spam-relaying countries, the Sophos report uncovered evidence that suggests Russian spammers may be controlling immense networks of "zombie" PCs. A recently discovered Russian spamming price list offered e-mail distribution to some 11 million Russian e-mail addresses for just $500, or distribution to one million addresses in any country for a paltry $50.

Images, Stocks and Home Users

The report also found that spammers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to outwit anti-spam filters and bilk the unwary out of their money. One key development in 2006 has been the increase in spam containing images up from 18.2 percent in January to 35.9 percent in June. Using images rather than text, spammers are able to avoid detection by anti-spam filters that rely on the analysis of textual spam content.

So-called pump-and-dump e-mail scams are also on the rise. Sophos estimated that 15 percent of all spam e-mails fall into that category, compared with only 0.8 percent in January 2005. The sham e-mails are designed to pump up the value of a company's stock so that spammers can make a quick profit. Many of these spam scams also use images in their messages.

"It's incredible what people will believe when they receive it in a nicely formatted e-mail, which they would never believe if some nutter came up to them at the mall," Cluley said. "In one example, a recent stock spam campaign saw the share price rise over 500 percent as a result."

Although eliminating spam is not likely, companies and individuals can dramatically reduce the amount of spam they receive by properly protecting themselves and following best practices to minimize exposure. Home users need to properly protect their computers with up-to-date security patches, firewalls and anti-virus software to make sure that "unlike Aunt Hilda" they are not helping the spammers by having a computer that is easy for them to exploit, Graham advised.

"Given the number of arrests, and the huge fines dished out to guilty spammers, it's hard to criticize the U.S. for failing to take action," Cluley said. "Perhaps the reality is that the statistics can't be reduced further unless U.S. home users take action to secure their computers and put a halt to the zombie PC problem."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Would Open Rates Truly Crash?

While automobile technology seems to converge more every day, a new company has launched what may be the Holy Grail for busy, on the go executive types.

iLane is positioned as the world's first hands-free and eyes-free email solution for in-vehicle use.

Is this safer than talking on your cell phone or checking your Blackberry/Treo while driving? Probably so but still distracting. Regardless, email metric response rates surely would take a hit for this audience, if not some lurking pedestrians as well.

This technology could overtake the Bluetooth star trek looking ear device as the status symbol for those people that must have the latest gadgets and pretend that they must play businessman all day, and all night. You know who you are.

The only problem is this device would not be as overtly shown off as the ubiquitous Bluetooth thingy. Speaking of, can't you take that thing off while you eat? I have seen it being worn at places that range from the bar at the Four Seasons to fast food restaurants. Self importance must have a limit, especially if you are dining with other people!

Email Security Issues & Jail Time

We often manage key online data for clients, like email addresses and other personal information, so we take the security role very seriously. We have tight processes and use different ways to securely manage client data.

If you ever wonder why some companies seem to be overly cautious about trusting partners and vendors with personally identifiable information (PII), here is a reason why:

William Bailey, Jr, 46, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia with 11 counts of computer intrusion.

Bailey operates, a web site that offers for sale various professional organization member databases, including addresses and email addresses. One such example is:
"Physician Email Database 20,350 emails for $399"

According to the indictment:
"The indictment charges that between January and May 2005, Bailey gained unauthorized access to the computer at American College of Physicians and downloaded the membership database.

The ACP web site contained the following restriction on its use. A viewer had to read this warning before getting access to the membership database:

"Member Connection" or any of its data or listings may not be downloaded, republished, resold or duplicated, in whole or in part, for commercial or any other purposes, or for purposes of compiling mailing lists or any other lists of physicians. The use of "Member Connection" to establish independent data files or compendiums of statistical information is prohibited.. . . Should the foregoing terms and conditions be acceptable to you, please indicate your agreement and acceptance by clicking below on the button labeled, "I accept."

"As the indictment alleges, the defendant was not an ACP member, knew he couldn't gain access to the database and download the information that he wanted, so he ignored the stop signs and the law, said Meehan. Meehan also noted that the American College of Physicians called the FBI immediately and cooperated during the investigation.

If convicted, Bailey faces a maximum possible sentence of 55 years imprisonment, $2,750,000 in fines and a special assessment of $1100.

The case was investigated by the computer crimes squad of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michael L. Levy."

The Justice Department has more information located here:

Surprisingly, I had not heard about this case in the mainstream or even trade press, since these seem to be the only email related news that big media picks up. I first read about this on a blog from a gentleman from the Netherlands

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

LinkedIn - myspace of the business world?

Well, not exactly but it does serve a unique purpose of providing additional networking opportunities. I recently had a lunch with a guy I went to college with and hadn't seen since. I found him on LinkedIn after searching for alumni in the tech industry. Pretty cool.

After that, I have added some endorsements and updated my profile.

Does LinkedIn work for you? Is it just a place for sales people to lurk or is it a unique controlled environment that allows for connections to happen - when people say so.

Anyway, my profile is located here

51 Seconds (If You're Lucky) is all you get

Following up on my recent article, posts and webcast on the length of email marketing messages, comes some interesting data on how long users spend with their emails.

"Readers spend an average of 51 seconds with email newsletters, typically skimming the contents."

"19% of newsletters are read fully. (Nielsen Norman, 2006)"

"Promotional emails get about 15 seconds (Marketing Sherpa, 2005). "

If you are still reading this (not sure on the average blog read time),
click here to check out the Return Path data

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Interesting Look at How Broadway Uses Email Marketing (and search)

The Times breaks down email marketing usage for broadway play promotional efforts
Producers Use the Web to Romance Audience and Bring Them Back

Some interesting comments from this article...(note it was in the Arts section, not Business, so we can forgive the author a bit for using calling these tactics "email blasts" and "search engine pop ups")

"IF you were one of the 2,500 people who saw the Off Broadway musical "Altar Boyz" last week, its producer, Ken Davenport, probably has your number. Or at least, if you were among the 40 percent who bought your tickets online, he has your e-mail address. So don't be surprised when a thank-you message ("on behalf of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham") shows up in your electronic mailbox Monday morning, including a discount offer for a return visit or to send to friends, "so that they too can fall in love with The Boyz, just like you have."

Is this acceptable to email these people? Stay tuned for my next article where I evaluate how permission is really used in email marketing. Is permission granted by you to receive emails just by seeing a play?

"The open rates on that e-mail are off the charts," Mr. Davenport said: more than 70 percent, in an industry where 30 percent is high.
That is a very enviable open rate, no doubt. As is this ROI "A single blast to 20,000 e-mail addresses netted $40,000 in sales and cost almost nothing."

A major campaign aimed at the show's youngish demographic not only through more or less traditional ads on theater, newspaper and wedding Web sites but also through "viral" marketing.
See my last post on the mainstream impact viral marketing is having on the advertising medium.

"A four-month Google ad campaign he ran for "Doubt" (a title that would otherwise be hopeless on a search engine) cost about $15,000 and sold more than $400,000 worth of full-price tickets, not including sales that were initiated on the Internet but completed by phone. "With direct mail," Mr. Bazadona said, "you consider it a success if you double your cost, or just break even."
Clearly, these broadway promoters know what they are doing.

"For a few thousand dollars, a show can buy a 100,000-name list of theatergoers from Telecharge and blast each name an e-mail advertisement."
I would call this into question and debate whether this is an acceptable best practice...i dont know if permission was granted to receive 3rd party offers but if not, they better be careful.

Let me know your thoughts.

Wall Street Journal on Viral Marketing

Those monkeys have gotten too much press but it shows the power of viral email marketing.

Laughing All the Way to the Bank 'Viral' marketers count on consumers to pass the word

Marketing Sherpa's Stefan Tornquist provides this stat nugget...
"it's not uncommon to see viral campaigns that achieve an estimated 30% pass-along rate, meaning roughly one in three people will forward the campaign message to a friend." Not bad.

BrightWave Marketing recently created a cool viral email marketing design for a client who's sole purpose was to get people to forward the people. Pretty unique and smart, if you ask me. If you want to see the final version, let me know.

Viral marketing is here to stay and worth the extra time and resources that require a compelling message and strong ROI.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How do your Email Metrics Compare to Spam?

I was surprised to see the New York Times run an article on how Spammers do based on their industry. You know our industry has a problem when this is the only kind of coverage the email marketing industry gets.

Anyway, sex sells. Shocking, huh?

Porn related emails get 5.6% click through rate while messages advertising pharmacy drugs get 0.02% CT rate.

Read the article here - and remember say no to spam - delete these, don't click - no matter how enticing the offer may be.
Seems Somebody Is Clicking on That Spam