Email is an extremely valuable tool for marketers. It not only enables brands to reach the right people with the right messages at the right times, it also delivers the best ROI of any marketing channel. In a 2017 Email Benchmarking Report produced by Digital Doughnut for dotmailer, respondents cited a return on investment of £39/$39 for every £1/$1 spent; that’s huge.

Email has been a common marketing vehicle since the 90s and as such, it’s sometimes viewed as a task that marketers can do with their eyes shut. However, without the proper care and attention, dropping the ball can lead to all sorts of problems – and we mean big problems, like fraud.

In the first quarter of 2016, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) observed more phishing attacks than at any other time in history. Fraud can wreck email marketing effectiveness, jeopardize brand trust and impact revenue. That’s why it’s important to understand how fraudsters operate in the online world – and here are three of the most common scams:


In August 2017, 85.46% of global email traffic was marked as spam; that’s 318.57 billion messages! Spam is unsolicited email that’s sent in bulk and unfortunately, many consumers see legitimate email marketing in the same light.

Spammers gather email addresses in a number of ways, but one of the most popular is through purchasing people’s data. If you’re a legit company that’s considering doing the same, our CPO James Koons has some strong words for you.

So, what can you do to distinguish your marketing emails from messages sent by those pesky spammers? First and foremost, ensure you’re sending emails to those who’ve opted in to receive marketing communications from you; just look at what happened to Flybe and Honda recently.

The next part is all about sending relevant content to a database of engaged contacts. This is easy if you’re using an email marketing platform like dotmailer which offers automation, personalization and segmentation tools.


Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address. Messages will appear to have come from someone or somewhere other than the actual source and can easily go unnoticed by the recipient.

Some of the spoofing methods used include mimicking the sending domain of the brand; ‘cousin domain threats’ that spoof the legit company’s brand name but come from an unknown domain; and ‘from name spoofing’, which mimics the name that comes before the domain from address.

Other than being vigilant and encouraging customers to report anything suspicious, you can also follow some simple best practice guidelines to help your contacts distinguish between legit and malicious. The first is using a custom ‘from’ address which will not only build your online brand and trust to improve your open rates, but can also improve deliverability. The second is to use a consistent friendly ‘from’ name across all of your email communications so that recipients will become accustomed to your messages.


Phishing is an extremely deceptive type of spamming that’s intended to trick people into handing over sensitive information, such as their bank details or login credentials.

Cybercriminals will spoof a legitimate organization using similar or identical branding and sender information, or can even hack into an email software account to mass phish.

There are a number of ways to prevent phishing affecting your business internally and externally. The first is to educate employees on phishing attacks and what to look out for, and another is to enforce strong security on supplier platforms, including complex passwords and two-factor authentication.

If you’re still worried about how fraud can affect your email marketing and wider business, Riskified – a dotmailer partner – provides frictionless fraud prevention for online retail. dotmailer is an email marketing automation platform that integrates with all of the big eCommerce platforms, including Magento, Shopify Plus and WooCommerce.

About the Author

Ross Barnard, Head of Content at Dotmailer
Ross Barnard is a content marketing specialist with more than 8 years’ experience across multiple sectors, including technology, travel and banking. Over the last few years he’s honed his B2B marketing skills by leading the content and communications strategies for dotmailer, a global marketing automation provider.