Spam ROI: Profit on 1 in 12.5m Response Rate

Share this article

Why do spammers keep on spamming in spite of miserable response rates? The answer is that because even though the vast majority of people ignore spam, or filter it out completely, there are those few suckers who actually order products via unsolicited emails and end up making spam profitable for the slime who do it. As a result of the naivety of the few, the rest of us are forced to suffer — because, let’s face it, even the best spam filters aren’t 100% effective, especially for high volume email users that get hundreds of legit messages daily. According to a 2008 study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego, spammers get a response just once for every 12.5 million emails they send — a response rate of 0.000008%. Despite that, though, spammers are still able to turn a profit. Earlier this year, the research team took control of a botnet of 75,869 hijacked machines that actually send out spam for real spammers, and used that network to send out their own fake spam messages advertising a fictitious pharmacy site that sold an herbal remedy to increase the taker’s sex drive. “After 26 days, and almost 350 million e-mail messages, only 28 sales resulted,” wrote the researchers in a paper explaining their project. That’s a miserable response rate — and well below the 2.15% rate that legit direct mail companies report — but still, it represents revenue of about $100 per day. The researchers estimate that if they scaled up their operation to the volume that actual spammers deal in, they could make about $7,000 per day and $2 million per year. That may not be a huge number given how many sales messages are being sent out, but it is well above operating costs. Spam is cheaper than legitimate marketing, and at scale can apparently be effective at generating profits. Spammers and online scammers continue to ply their dark trade because a sucker is born every minute. A recent Microsoft-backed survey done in western Europe found that 1 out of 44 people have fallen victim to an Internet scam such as a 419 fraud email. That’s a startlingly high number and illustrates why spam and scam emails are still such a huge problem. Better filtering technology has done a lot to lessen the burden of spam, but spammers aren’t dumb. They’ll always find ways to get around the latest filters. The only way to stop spam completely is to stop responding to it. That should be common sense, but apparently there are enough people out there for which it is not that we’re going to have to keep saying it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Spam ROI

What is Spam ROI and why is it important?

Spam ROI, or Return on Investment, refers to the profit that spammers make from their activities. It’s important because it helps us understand why spamming continues to be a prevalent issue. Despite the low response rate, spammers can still make a significant profit due to the minimal costs involved in sending out mass emails. Understanding this can help us devise more effective strategies to combat spam.

How do spammers achieve a profit despite a low response rate?

Spammers can achieve a profit despite a low response rate because the cost of sending out mass emails is extremely low. Even if only a small fraction of recipients respond to the spam, the potential profit from these responses can outweigh the costs, resulting in a positive ROI.

What strategies can be used to combat spam?

There are several strategies that can be used to combat spam. These include using spam filters, reporting spam to your email provider, and being cautious about sharing your email address. It’s also important to avoid clicking on links in spam emails, as this can lead to more spam and potential security risks.

How can I reduce my spam complaint rate?

Reducing your spam complaint rate can be achieved by ensuring that your emails are relevant and valuable to the recipient. This includes personalizing your emails, segmenting your audience, and regularly cleaning your email list to remove inactive subscribers. It’s also important to make it easy for subscribers to opt-out of your emails if they wish.

What is phishing and how is it related to spam?

Phishing is a type of online scam where attackers impersonate a legitimate organization in an attempt to steal sensitive data. It’s often related to spam because attackers frequently use spam emails as a method of distributing their phishing attempts. By understanding the tactics used in phishing, you can better protect yourself from these types of scams.

How can I identify a spam email?

There are several signs that an email may be spam. These include a generic greeting, poor grammar and spelling, a request for personal information, and a sense of urgency. It’s also suspicious if the email is from an unknown sender or if the email address doesn’t match the name of the sender.

What are the consequences of responding to spam?

Responding to spam can have several negative consequences. It can lead to more spam, as it confirms to the spammer that your email address is active. It can also lead to security risks, such as malware or phishing attempts.

How can I protect my email address from spammers?

Protecting your email address from spammers can be achieved by being cautious about who you share your email address with, using a separate email address for online forms and subscriptions, and avoiding clicking on links in spam emails.

What is the role of software in spamming?

Software plays a crucial role in spamming. Spammers often use software to automate the process of sending out mass emails. This allows them to reach a large number of recipients with minimal effort and cost.

How can I report spam?

If you receive a spam email, you can report it to your email provider. Most email providers have a ‘Report Spam’ button that you can use. You can also report spam to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

Josh CatoneJosh Catone
View Author

Before joining Jilt, Josh Catone was the Executive Director of Editorial Projects at Mashable, the Lead Writer at ReadWriteWeb, Lead Blogger at SitePoint, and the Community Evangelist at DandyID. On the side, Josh enjoys managing his blog The Fluffington Post.

Share this article
Read Next
Get the freshest news and resources for developers, designers and digital creators in your inbox each week
Loading form