How to avoid your emails being marked as SPAM

There’s nothing more annoying than having your business emails filtered as spam. However, what we share with our Northland customers, is that a few simple steps can help to ensure your customers actually get your emails in their inbox.

Understanding SPAM

Mail or internet service providers (ISPs) use algorithms, and custom configurations to filter emails. These filters aim to stop emails with ill intent (e.g. viruses, phishing, or ransomware).Yet, as filters get smarter and stronger to ward off cyberattack, you need to do more to actually get your emails out to your customers. Ensure your emails get through to the intended audience with these strategies.

#1 Get permission from recipients

In some countries, if your recipients didn’t ask or agree to hear from you, and the email is of a commercial nature, the email you’re sending is spam. That’s why buying a bulk email list hurts your sender reputation. You don’t want your business associated with spam.

#2 Avoid spam trigger words

Content filters are set to be sensitive to words that typically indicate a spammer’s efforts. These include:

  • “Dear friend”
  • “Toll-free”
  • “Risk-free”
  • “Special offer”
  • “Free prize”

#3 Don’t rely on an image

An email which uses only an image will trigger a content filter. Even if you have an image in your email, you should always have something to say about it as well.

You’ll also want to avoid ALL CAPS and overusing exclamation points, too!!!!!

#4 Drive engagement

Mail providers and ISPs are able to track how people receive your emails and whether they react positively. If they immediately delete the email without even looking at it, you could be labeled as spam. If they open the email, click on a link, respond or send it on to someone else, that’s positive engagement. This improves your sender reputation, which improves your chances of reaching recipients.

#5 Work with a reputable internet service provider

Your business may be sending from a shared IP address. If someone else has been sending spam from that address, you will be a suspect, too, at least by those who filter based on IP. This is particularly painful, as you’re suffering as a result of someone else’s bad deeds.

If you are sending mass marketing emails, use an email marketing platform such as Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign. These platforms manage their own sender reputation.

#6 Always include a way to unsubscribe, plus your contact information

When mailing a list, provide updated and valid contact information for your company. Also, make sure you offer a clear opportunity to unsubscribe. If you don’t, you risk noncompliance with regulations against unsolicited marketing.

#7 Pace yourself

Sending too many emails at once will prompt filter scrutiny. That’s why many marketers take a “drip campaign” approach. Instead of sending hundreds of emails at once, you schedule a staggered send.

Stay in touch successfully

The success of your email marketing and day-to-day communications relies on your getting through spam filters. It can help to ask new subscribers to whitelist you. That means they’ll add your “From” address to their contact list. This tells the service provider that they asked for this communication.

If you need any more help with navigating this, please feel free to reach out to our team here.

The Christmas IT Checklist

2021 may be the Christmas that we all collectively exhale and exclaim “Thank goodness this year is over”.

However, before you rush out the office door for Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, here are a few quick IT tips, to ensure you have a relaxing break.  

Every season you’re going to need good support from IT professionals. Keep your technology in tip top shape, and you’ll have a happier holiday season. A few preparations before leaving for Christmas holidays, will ensure a relaxing time for all. Here we help you with a quick check list:

Staffing and training:

Have you got your organization covered over the Christmas and New Year period? While everyone rushes off, it pays to ensure that your organization has adequate staffing levels, and/or availability of key resources. 

If you are working on a skeleton staff, make sure that there is a backup contact in case of any information security or cyber incident. Also make sure that the staff running the show, actually know what they are doing! Many a security event has happened when staff are not adequately trained.


Business Continuity Plan:

This is also a good time to review your company’s disaster recovery/business continuity plans, to ensure they cover these scenarios:

  • Contact information for key people e.g. staff, suppliers, authorities, couriers, support.
  • Clear descriptions of responsibilities for individuals
  • Making important information readily available such as alarm codes, building access codes, passwords.
  • Have passwords and codes changed and has your plan been updated to reflect this?
  • A process for communicating important messages to your customers

Out of Office on:

Nothing irritates customers more then not getting a quick reply. Be sure to communicate your office hours clearly to your customer, along with clear back up contact numbers.

Start telling customers your availability as soon as possible. Communicate it via as many avenues as possible:

  • Social Media.
  • Email communication.
  • Invoices.
  • Posters.
  • Ensure customers receive clear contact details, back up numbers, email contacts and clarity around dates.
  • Make sure your Email out of office is switched on (possibly for external emails only), and your message is clear.
  • Add a temporary message to your mobile phone so you are not disturbed.
  • If you run social media accounts, consider archiving them for a few weeks so that you don’t have to ruin your summer monitoring social media.

Update and upgrade IT

If Christmas is a busy time for you, ensure that your technology can handle more traffic. Review system integrations to make sure front-and back-ends can communicate smoothly. Identify any issues or bottlenecks in advance to be able to upgrade or update any IT that needs help.

If you do need major IT upgrades or system changes, postpone them until after the holidays. Don’t mess with what works right now if you don’t have to do so.

Safeguard business data

Unfortunately, cyber criminals don’t seem to take a holiday. In fact, holiday season is a ripe time for cyber-attacks, as people are distracted.

In 2020, the greatest number of daily attacks in the last quarter of the year were on December 31.

Make sure you are protecting systems, detecting threats, and defending against attacks. A security assessment can help determine what you are doing well and could be doing better. Please contact your @Computer team member to discuss your specific concerns.

Social Media

Beware what you share!

Whilst social media is a great tool to share holidays snaps, it pays to remember Social media can be difficult to keep these connections private, with a potential audience of…um… the entire world! The impact on the privacy of your devices, your sensitive information and even your personal security plays as a key disadvantage of social networking.

There is an abundance of fake accounts, trolls and fraudsters online, who seek to obtain and collect your personal information for possible criminal activity. Be strict with your privacy settings and be vigilant of the things you post. Avoid accidentally sharing information that could hint at:

  • Login Details – email addresses, usernames and passwords. For example, potential answers to security questions ‘What was your first pets name”
  • Promoting that you’re out whilst your house/workplace is unoccupied

In conclusion…..

If it is a slow time in your office, it can also be an ideal time to clear out old data and perform maintenance on PC’s such as clean the dust, move old data, and clean up user information. Take a break!

Some people will be working over the Christmas and New Year period, and if you are we’d like to THANK YOU for keeping the country running and services/goods flowing!

But for those of us who are taking a break – PLEASE – make sure you do get to switch off and have a real break away from your business / mahi. We all need to switch off for a while every year. Be well, stay healthy and return ready for an awesome 2022!

Plan to refresh your IT/Online strategy

Things are moving so fast, and IT/online technologies are moving faster. What opportunities can you create, or gaps can you plug, with a smart IT/online strategy?

Ponder on this and give us a call in the new year to discuss how information, communication and online technologies can serve you. The team at @Computer wish you a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Windows 11 – what you need to know now!

WINDOWS 11 – STOP THE BUS!

So many of our clients in Northland have been asking us about Microsoft 11. “Should I upgrade?” “Should I wait?”. It’s new and everyone wants the latest and greatest right.  

In this case, however, it may be best to WAIT

With most upgrades, updates are something to install as a matter of course. The manufacturer, after all, is delivering new efficiencies, improved processes, and increased security, so why wouldn’t you?

Well with Windows 11 it’s not quite that simple:

First of all, Windows 11 has been called “the biggest update we’ve seen to Microsoft PC software in more than half a decade.”

Why you don’t need to rush this upgrade:

  • Windows 11 is still in its early days and upgrading to it now may cause more problems than anything.
  • The feedback we are getting from our industry is that Windows 11 has a number of bugs, and has very limited support for other applications and devices.
  • There also seems to be some issues with both software and hardware, such as printers, not being compatible.

Most importantly, Microsoft has said it will support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025, so there is no need to rush any decision.

  • Microsoft typically keeps a ten-year lifespan for its products which means that there is no rush to upgrade.
  • Windows 11 is not an essential upgrade, so there is no need to do anything right now.
  • One of the advantages of waiting is that you will come after the initial launch issues and bugs.
  • Yes, the software has been available in beta since June 2021, however, as more users get access, you can expect more updates on the horizon.

A sneak peek of what can you expect from Windows 11:

Windows 11 is a redesigned operating system aiming at improved user navigation. Expect:

  • A more Mac-like experience
  • Integration with Android apps
  • A facelift for Microsoft Teams
  • Streamlined switching from monitor to laptop
  • Direct access to widgets from the Taskbar
  • A few gaming performance enhancements

If you do decide to go ahead here are some things you need to know….

  • The upgrade is rolling out gradually. Those who recently purchased a new laptop before Windows 11 was pre-installed have access now.
  • If you are an existing Windows 10 user, you’ll see the Windows 11 upgrade sometime between now and mid-2022. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates. If available, you’ll see a Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
  • Remember to backup all your important documents before starting the installation process!
  • Also, don’t fall for any fake versions of Windows 11. Wait to receive an official notification of a systems update.
  • Do NOT click on links promising the software on social media or via email. You could end up downloading malware.

Other tips:

If you are in the market for a new laptop, make sure you’re getting one with Windows 11 pre-installed. That way, you’ll be sure to get one that will be able to run the new operating system without hassle.

Your IT specialist may have already suppressed some of the reminder notices for you, so that you don’t get asked to upgrade all of the time. However, they can’t stop them all.

If you see the official Microsoft screens saying ‘click here to install Windows 11’ our suggestion is to not do anything and just wait. It might be a good idea to also inform your team to do the same.

Conclusion:

One thing to be mindful of is that if you do go ahead and install Windows 11, any problems you encounter may not be covered by your IT specialist under your current plan.

However, if you are sitting at your computer reading this and are still using Windows 7 and Windows 8, its definitely time for an upgrade to at least Windows 10. Windows 7 and 8 are no longer supported by the manufacturer and without support or security updates, these systems are vulnerable to malware attacks.

In conclusion the best thing to do is to talk to us about this upgrade to Windows 11 to see when and if it is right for you. For now, you won’t be disadvantaged by doing nothing, so you can just relax, take a breath, and book a time in with us for specific advice on your requirements.