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"Protecting Yourself in the E-Mail Jungle!"

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6/6/03 Interview with Gary Hall

74 N. Hamilton Street
Doylestown, PA 18901

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Favorite Email Tool

  1. Unlimited email addresses are a favorite tool of Hall's; anything@yourdomain will get through; do not confuse this concept with aliases that can be set up through an email address with an ISP.
  2. Agents should use the domain name of their web address for business emailto make their email address easier to remember.
  3. The unlimited address aspect allows you to filter unwanted email; for example, if you leave your email address while browsing a site, use an email address specific to that site (VisitedCompany@)yourdomain) to identify anything coming back to you from that source.
  4. You then have control to direct messages to a folder or to create a rule to filter out messages from the source; use the same strategy for listserves, chat rooms, forums, user groups, etc.; only give out your true email address when you are giving it personally.
Another Possible Anti-Spam Strategy

  1. A recent contact of Hall reduced his junk mail by 70% by using the Unsubscribe link in junk mail for 90 days.
  2. This strategy runs contrary to the common advice not to use the Unsubcribe link for unknown sources because it identifies your address as active; Hall is experimenting cautiously with the idea himself.
  3. Beware of Scraping

  4. Spammers are using software programs to harvest email addresses from websites.
  5. A way to avoid having your email address picked up this way is to avoid posting the email address on the site use plenty of Contact Me buttons with a CGI form instead.
  6. Another way to keep your address from being picked up is to post just a graphic image of your email address.
Tracking Your Advertising Dollars

  1. The unlimited email address tool can be applied to track your advertising dollars; for example you can use different response addresses to compare the success of otherwise identical ads in two different publications.
  2. A way to distinguish sources or subjects of messages coming into the same folder is to create a filter to color or to label the subject lines of the messages based on information you specify (e.g. specific property); Outlook and Eudora have this capacity.
Reducing the Risk of Viruses

  1. Because Microsoft is targeted by the creators of viruses, there is an advantage in not using Outlook or Outlook Express; if you are careful, you can stay virus free even if you use Microsoft products.
  2. Stay on top of virus definitions; daily updates are prudent.
  3. Hall likes using ADG Antivirus, which is free and seems less intrusive than McAfee or Norton.
  4. Viruses don't have to come through attachments ‹just opening an email message can expose you to a virus; even viewing a message in the preview pane is potentially as harmful as completely opening it.
  5. A way around the threat is to turn off the preview pane and go through the email list, deleting any that are unknown; then turn the preview pane on and review the rest of your email.
  6. To add the preview pane to your toolbar: in Outlook, right click on the toolbar, select Customize, then View, look for Preview Pane on the right and drag it to your toolbar.
  7. To add the preview pane to your toolbar in Outlook Express, right click on the toolbar, click on Customize, then from the Available list on the left, click on Preview and then Add.
  8. MailWasher shows the subject lines of email messages and lets you delete messages from the server or allow them to download; the program also allows you to send a fake bounce message to the sender of unwanted email indicating that your email address does not exist.
  9. Some email software can be set to Ignore Messages Over [a size you specify] so that only the heading downloads unless you give approval.
  10. The ultimate protection is to BACKUP your system so that in the worst case of being hit by a virus, you can restore your system.
Real Estate-Specific Software

  1. Until recently, real estate professionals had to maintain two databases ‹one for email software (Outlook) and one for a real estate contact manager (Online Agent/Agent Office); the redundancy means wasted time.
  2. Real estate-specific softwares now have the capability to maintain all ofthe information in a single database.
  3. The email module of Agent Office, for example, will look at the mail boxes in Outlook; messages can be associated with the permanent records of contacts in Agent Office.
Work-Saving Strategies for Responding to Clients

  1. To streamline answering email, combine a short, personalized response to a specific question with a preset auto-signature; Hall suggests creating an auto-signature for each municipality in your market area that includes links for more information.
  2. Also use autoresponders to alert people when you are away and will be delayed in replying to them.
Backing Up Email

  1. Windows XP is supposed to do a better job backing up Outlook and OutlookExpress than previous versions of Windows.
  2. AJ Systems has a product that backs up every aspect of Outlook, OutlookExpress and Eudora; it also backs up Favorites in Internet Explorer.
  3. How to Send Attachments that Anyone Can Open

  4. The predictable answer is to use Adobe, but an alternative is to use RTF (Rich Text Format).
  5. When you save a document in Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, select .rtf (Rich Text Format) as the file type; RTF files can be opened by anyone with either a Windows or Mac operating system; the formatting travels if the document is opened in Word or WordPerfect.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. A good source for office supplies (at a savings of 30­80% compared to OfficeMax) is eBay.
  2. Google is the best of search engines; among its unique twists is the option to bid for input from experts on almost any kind of question.
  3. ZDNet is recommended for its reviews of hardware.
  4. offers a good compilation of links (about 700) to real-estate-related tech sites.
Contact Information for Gary Hall:

(v) 215.345.5222
(f) 617.507.0502

Real Estate Sites and Tools in This Briefing:
AgentOffice (formerly Online Agent)
AJSystems email backup