How to Stop Unwanted Email

Expert tips to block spam today.

By Kara Trivunovic

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In July, my family celebrated the Serbian Orthodox holiday Slava. As we prepared for dinner, the priest came to our house and blessed the food and our home. The preparation for his arrival typically includes a candle, red wine, a list of residents in the house and the traditional bread that my mother-in-law makes and decorates. This year, as I handed him all the "tools," he asked for one more thing – my email address.

Unless it's your priest. I'm a little worried that clicking "This is SPAM" would be equivalent to "Go to Hell," and I don't think I want to find out what happens next.Wait. What? Why? Feeling put on the spot and not entirely sure I could really say "No," I obliged. So what happens now? It seems that there is a lot the church wants to share, and now I get email daily, sometimes multiple times in one day. Since I have made a career working in the email marketing space, I understand the desire to reach the parish via email, but c'mon!

Think about your email inbox for a moment (I know, it isn't the most fun thing to do). What do you find in there? It's probably a combination of offers from companies you do business with, companies you are clueless about (how did they get your address?), companies that you gave your email address to but are sending you too much stuff (or stuff you just don't want), and the occasional email from Aunt Jackie, or, in my case, my priest. Experts estimate that consumers get approximately 17 emails each day – but what do you do when you don't want to get that email anymore?

Once upon a time, it was a common practice of unscrupulous spammers to include an Unsubscribe link in their junk email messages – but when you clicked that link to be removed, it actually validated that your email address was correct, and the spam kept coming, more and more of it. With the introduction of CAN-SPAM laws that restrict the use and collection of email addresses, the act of clicking an Unsubscribe link has been legitimized – providing marketers with a 10-day window with which to suppress you from receiving additional messages from. Since the introduction of This is SPAM buttons on many email platforms (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, and others), consumers have embraced this feature as a way to unsubscribe. But consumer beware: "This is SPAM" does not equal UNSUBSCRIBE.

The Report as SPAM function works a little differently for each email provider. For most, the act of clicking "This is SPAM" tells the email provider two things: 1. The sender is not relevant to you, and 2. The marketer's messaging may not be relevant to any of their email users. As a result, the email you are trying to stop ends up in your Bulk folder. For the marketer, this action limits its ability to get email to any of the subscribers at your email provider.

In some cases, but not all, your email provider will have a system called a feedback loop that sends a notification back to the marketer that you have complained about its email, and suggesting that you be removed from its mailing list. However, because you did not expressly unsubscribe, there is no legal requirement for the marketer to leave you alone. That means you'll still download the messages and have to weed through them when you look for legitimate emails in your Junk folder.

The only way to ensure that you do not receive email from a specific marketer is to click the Unsubscribe link (or button) in its email. If there is no link in the message, then "This is SPAM" is the way to go.

Kara Trivunovic is the Global Director of Strategy at StrongMail Agency Services.


Your own instructions on how to unsubscribe call for finding the "edit your preferences" pick at the bottom of the newsletter. This does not exist. Anyone else having trouble finding that?

GramRo on 2014-10-07 15:30:34