Graymail – Manage Junk Mail

Graymail Filtering

Graymail refers to email messages that are typically not classified as spam but are also not considered high-priority or essential by the recipient. Unlike spam, which consists of unsolicited and often malicious or irrelevant emails, graymail represents legitimate but less important messages, such as newsletters, promotional emails, social media notifications, and subscription updates.

The term “graymail” reflects the ambiguous nature of these messages—they are neither fully desirable nor completely unwanted. While some graymail may be of interest to the recipient, it often contributes to email overload and clutter in the inbox, leading to reduced productivity and difficulty in managing email communications effectively.

Examples of graymail include:

  1. Newsletters and subscriptions: Emails from websites, blogs, or online services that the user has subscribed to for updates, promotions, or newsletters.
  2. Promotional emails: Marketing messages from retailers, brands, or service providers offering discounts, special offers, or product promotions.
  3. Social media notifications: Email notifications from social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, informing users about new followers, mentions, or friend requests.
  4. Updates and notifications: Emails from online services, apps, or platforms providing updates, notifications, or alerts about account activity, changes in terms of service, or security-related information.
  5. Transactional emails: Emails related to online transactions, purchases, or account activities, such as order confirmations, shipping notifications, or receipts.

While graymail may not pose the same level of security risks or annoyance as spam, it can still overwhelm users’ inboxes and distract them from more important or urgent emails. As a result, many users and organizations employ email management strategies, such as email filters, folder organization, or unsubscribe mechanisms, to reduce the impact of graymail and prioritize essential communications.

Spambrella includes classifiers that categorize email and enable granular dispositions on those categories such as graymail “bulk mail” (e.g. newsletters, opt-in emails, etc.). Unlike Microsoft 365 and Google’s approach to spam detection, Spambrella does not treat bulk mail as spam, as there might be legitimate cases where such mail needs to be delivered (e.g. some end users might opt-in to a medical newsletter on diabetes, and classifying such an email as spam is clearly a false positive).

The problem with Graymail

Although it may not initially be seen as a problem, Graymail can cause headaches for business email users and administrators. Graymail is a term used for legitimate opt-in (user-specified and confirmed by email they wish to receive the email) and therefore should not be regarded (and rightfully so) as SPAM. Not all graymail is for personal use either, many of us utilize on-line publications for our job roles such as legal teams, marketing departments, and healthcare publications.

Marketing companies have many sub-direction forks and they often share opt-in user details with other areas of its marketing force including sub-marketing partner organizations. As an end-user, you most likely (and unwillingly) signed up to allow sharing of your email address and other personal information you registered with when you first created your opt-in subscriptions. Let’s be honest, when you are attempting to read an article or purchase an item you don’t want to read through a 10-page terms and conditions document. This is the problem with graymail. In theory, the opt-in process is a great step in adding layered verification to the types of emails we wish to receive. As always marketing companies have also monetized this verification to you ‘the users’ detriment.

Managing Graymail

The easiest way to manage Graymail is to stipulate which departments need which particular newsletters/publications. You could, for example, create an internal white list of trusted resources/domains and publish this through Sharepoint or other internal resources. Understanding what ‘business email’ is required by your users is, of course, the first step to understanding Graymail traffic for your business.

End-users have grown tired of unsubscribing from emails they no longer wish to receive. Some of these could be phishing emails delivered to users inboxes by way of steering a user to a fake Office 365 login page for example. As a business, you may use security awareness training services which will enable your workforce to have a higher level of resilience but do you really want to rely solely on this? Most likely not. The logical step is to add a third party proven and trusted service to your perimeter defense arsenal.

Stopping graymail, or managing it effectively, involves implementing strategies to reduce the volume of less important or non-essential emails in your inbox. Here are some methods to help you stop or minimize graymail:

  1. Unsubscribe from Unwanted Subscriptions: Review your email subscriptions regularly and unsubscribe from newsletters, promotional emails, or notifications that you no longer find useful or relevant. Look for the “unsubscribe” link typically found at the bottom of such emails, and follow the instructions to opt out of receiving future emails.
  2. Use Email Filters and Rules: Set up email filters or rules to automatically categorize or redirect graymail to specific folders or labels, keeping them separate from your primary inbox. You can create filters based on sender email addresses, subject lines, or keywords commonly found in graymail messages.
  3. Use a Separate Email Address: Consider using a separate email address for signing up for newsletters, promotional offers, or online subscriptions. This way, graymail will be directed to a designated email account, keeping your primary inbox clutter-free and focused on essential communications.
  4. Enable Priority Inbox or Focused Inbox: Many email providers offer features such as Priority Inbox (e.g., Gmail) or Focused Inbox (e.g., Outlook) that automatically categorize incoming emails based on their importance or relevance. Enable these features to prioritize essential emails while relegating graymail to separate tabs or sections.
  5. Manage Social Media Notifications: Adjust your social media notification settings to reduce the frequency of email notifications from social networking platforms. Opt to receive fewer email notifications or disable email notifications altogether, and instead, rely on in-app notifications or alerts.
  6. Regularly Clean Up Your Inbox: Take the time to regularly declutter your inbox by deleting or archiving old emails, particularly graymail messages that are no longer relevant. Set aside dedicated time each week or month to review and clean up your inbox to maintain organization and reduce clutter.
  7. Be Selective About Sharing Your Email Address: Exercise caution when providing your email address online, especially on websites, forums, or sign-up forms. Consider using a disposable or temporary email address for one-time registrations or interactions to avoid receiving unwanted graymail in the future.
  8. Use Email Management Tools: Explore email management tools and software that offer features for organizing, filtering, and prioritizing emails effectively. These tools may include email clients with advanced filtering options, inbox organizers, or productivity extensions that help streamline email management tasks.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively stop or reduce the impact of graymail, enabling you to maintain a clutter-free inbox focused on essential communications while minimizing distractions and email overload.

Spambrella can help…

Spambrella provides a 30-day free service trial which will enable any SME or Enterprise to expand its email classification with granular control. The trial service will allow your IT department to determine the level of security controls requires, will remove the time consuming unsubscribe processes, and will gain additional employee productivity very quickly.

Furthermore, Spambrella is a true cloud service, we will not interfere with any local services and do not need any user intervention. The service is managed by the nominated IT administration team.

Further reading:

Email Attachment Filtering & Sandboxing

Sandboxing URLs and Attachments

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Related Case Studies

Easy to onboard my customers from another spam filtering system. Very fast and haven't had any downtime in the 9 months since I have moved to Spambrella. When I have had to use support, responses where quick. I had to move all my customers from another filtering system with little notice. After I moved my customers I realised how bad the old solution I used was. Contact with Sales and Support always been professional

Allen B., Review via Gartner Capterra

The service is great at filtering bad email as well as junk email out while allowing clean email though. I have used a few other options over the years and this is the best I have found. Clients sometimes have trouble configuring their settings to how they want it to be. Or tag emails as approved when they shouldn't and need IT interaction to resolve. Maybe just ease of use or having a more clear way for clients to resolve basics on their own.

Brian M., Review via Gartner Capterra

I found spambrella to be easy to set up and has dramatically reduced the number of spam emails hitting our inboxes. It was easy to 'train' the software to release any genuine emails that were caught or add any spam that was not picked up.

Within a couple of weeks of use virtually no spam arrived to our mailboxes. Spam and phishing emails are a growing problem for everyone I'm sure. I now get a very low incidence of spam.

David F., Review via Gartner Capterra

It doesn't require an arcane knowledge to set the Spam filtering up, the guides are straight to the point and support staff are very helpful. Functionality wise, in short: we do not get spammed. Thanks to Spambrella.

Archiving wise, the new solution is easy to use, searches well and fast and is by far the cheapest we could find at the time. Ten year retention rocks!

Verified Reviewer, Review via Gartner Capterra

Robust, versatile, and reliable...
The reliability of the service and the level of protection that it provides. My spam levels immediately dropped to near zero.

There are almost no false positives. And I'm easily able to customize the level of protection with whitelists, blacklists, and sensitivity settings. I'm also a big fan of the antivirus and URL scanning features.

Verified Reviewer, Review via Gartner Capterra

Used the software for: 2+ years - 5/5 Overall
With an ever overloaded department, and with cybersecurity skills shortage getting worse securing the I.T infrastructure.

Offloading the task of e-mail filtering to Spambrella has dramatically helped in the department's performance. The only drawback in our case is that the service is hosted outside of our territory and thus out of the legal jurisdiction.

John P., Review via Gartner Capterra

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