I am sure every one hates SPAM and we continue to get SPAM in our inboxes. We try all sorts of ways to block SPAM but then email SPAMMERS find new ways to reach our inboxes.

I recently installed Plaxo for my outlook and I was running some filters on it. I created a filter of people who are not in my address-book and have mailed more than 3 times in past 3 weeks. I hit upon over 100 such contacts and started wondering how is this possible that I have over 100 contacts who have mailed over 3 times in the past 3 weeks and they are not in my address book.

I copied all this data in an excel sheet to see what is happening here. Used some quick excel functions to filter out the email addresses using the LEN(), LEFT(), RIGHT() functions in excel. After obtaining the final email list, I started putting them in categories, spam status and industry type.

The three columns I made were:

1) Category of email – Let’s say I have subscribed to an advertising industry news letter, so I called it industry newsletter. Let’s say Linkedin or Twitter sends me some regular transactional emails about who connected / followed me then I called them as Professional or Social networking updates. Similarly for Banking, Finance, HR, Marketing, Technology, Travel, Food, Airlines etc.

2) Spam Status – I assigned 3 separate statuses to these mails:

  • Subscribed
  • Spam
  • Transactional

So for example, if I have subscribed to a newsletter, I called it Subscribed. If I get a Banking transaction alert, I called is transactional and some crap that hits my inbox, I called it Spam.

3) Industry Type – To generalize and clearly categorize my emails I started putting them under broad industry segment eg:

  • Advertising
  • Airlines
  • e-Commerce
  • Entertainment
  • Finance / Banking
  • Food/Beverages
  • Gaming
  • HR
  • Market Research
  • Media
  • News
  • Publishing – Includes all blogs, online information sources and general publications.
  • Real Estate
  • Technology
  • Telecom
  • Travel

Below is a chart which summaries my findings.

Key findings:

  1. Publishing – Is the highest SPAM generator category in India. Like fake job sites, fake deals site and these new online deals-online commerce sites which are all publishing crap content on blogs and their sites and are acquiring email addresses and spamming.
  2. Finance / Banking – I keep getting a lot of SPAM from finance / banking vertical too. This is mostly about invest here or invest there. Best schemes to make more money and why my life is in danger so I should insure myself crap.

Surprisingly media and other sites are following much better ethics in emailing.

This was my experience. And my guess is that if I monitor this data over a larger sample size and longer time period this will show seasonality eg: Jan-March quarter more finance/banking SPAM as the year is ending everyone wants you to invest and buy insurance. And hence the increased SPAM. VS during Diwali or similar festival season, you would see more SPAM for consumer brands trying to give the biggest discounts on their products.

Where do you get SPAM mails from and what do you do to block / deal with it?