Feb 10, 2006

Let’s Dissect Some Spam!

Th_dissectTake a look at this gloriously bad piece of spam I found in my inbox this morning. These guys just went absolutely nuts with their font formatting. This is a great example of spam in its purest form, caught in the wild. So put on your mask and rubber gloves, and grab your scalpel. We’re going to  dissect this excellent specimen, so that we learn what not to do when we design our own html email…

  • Notice the GIGANTIC letters all over the place. Spam filters look for "giant font sizes" in your code. It’s a sign that someone is screaming something spammy.
  • Don’t SCREAM WITH ALL CAPS!!!! Especially not the word, "FREE." No explanation needed there.
  • Don’t make every line of your text a different color. I don’t know that spam filters necessarily penalize you for this, but excessive font colors just look spammy to the human eye.
  • See how they use phrases like "GUARANTEED!" and "CALL/CLICK NOW!" Those are excellent signs that the email is spam.

If you want some more tips on how not to look like a spammer, we’ve got a nice article on "how spam filters think" at the MailChimp website. If you’re fairly new to HTML email design, and you’re worried about your email campaigns getting sent to the junk folder, one thing you can do is open up your email’s junk folder, and just sift through all that spam. Dissect them yourself (be sure to wear your mask, because it’s gonna stink). Learn everything the spammers do—then, don’t do that.