To keep email deliverability high, it is very important to be aware of the possibility of getting blacklisted. By following good email marketing practices and being diligent in keeping your list clean and up to date you can lessen the chance of getting on a blacklist. Being aware and understanding behaviors that can get you listed on a blacklist is the first step to getting your email into the inbox and out of the junk or bulk mail folder as well. Here are some things to consider when sending marketing email, if you want to stay in good standing, and off of the "spam cop" block lists.
No email software program can keep your mail server and domain from getting blacklisted if you not following good practices. There are features built into our programs that will help you stay in compliance with the CAN SPAM law and even help with keeping on the good side of the "spam cops". But to really understand how this all works it is important to know that the CAN SPAM law and the spam cops are not the same thing.
The CAN SPAM law is a US law and is a legal entity, non-compliance can get you fined or arrested, although this happens rarely and only when the offender is a true "spammer".
Spam cops are more like self-appointed "cops" or vigilantes who watch and report behaviors that are considered to be "spam" like. Because so many ISP's use the information provided by the spam cops to police the emails coming into their servers; it is important, if not imperative, to comply with the "unwritten laws" of email. Complying with "best practices" as well as making sure you are complying with the actual CAN SPAM law is your best defense against getting blacklisted.
We recommend using a "home grown" list, if possible, but renting and buying lists are also common practices. Renting or buying a list can pose problems. The quality of the list is the primary concern. Your list is only as good as the list broker who sells it. It is important if you ever rent or buy a list, that you ask certain questions of the broker. The best list is a list that you have compiled from customers either coming to you and making a purchase or at least signing up with you and requesting information. When someone makes a purchase or requests to be added to your list you will want to respond promptly. An email sent very soon after their request or purchase makes it less likely that they will forget your company or organization and possibly mark your message as spam as they delete it. Send them an email quickly so that it imprints with them that you are a known company, one that they want to receive information from. Also asking your customers to whitelist you or add you as a contact will help too.
But in cases where you or your client wants to use a rented or purchased list these questions (at least) should be asked of the list broker before purchase of the list has been made. Even when the answers to these questions are positive, proceed slowly. That way if there is an issue you will know after sending 1000 emails rather than after sending 20,000.
- Is this list opt in? If so, how did the person opt in and when? The broker should be able to provide this information or at least have it available if you ask.
- Has the broker ever harvested emails or is there any possibility that a harvested email could be in their list. The answer to that should be an absolute NO.
- Is the list checked frequently (at least monthly) for hard bounces and are they removed? This answer should be YES, certainly.
Again, when configured properly our program can track hard bounces and mark them in the list so that you do not send to them again It is extremely important to track and filter out any hard bounces of your list. Hard bounces in your sent can hurt your deliverability. While this is not a law, it is one of the things the spam cops watch. Also the incoming mail servers look closely at your hard bounce rate, if they see a send coming from your mail servers with a high percentage of the emails being hard bounces (and that can be 10 % or less) they may look more closely at your message before delivering it, deliver it to the junk folder, or even not deliver it at all. Spam cops also track high hard bounce sends and having a lot of hard bounces in your send can get you into trouble with them.
Our software does have the ability to throttle the sends (limit how many get sent to your server per hour). Sometimes sending very fast is not the best option There are times you may want to throttle your send, especially when sending to certain domains such as hotmail, yahoo, gmail, AOL and many others. Targeted throttling for specific domains may be a function available on your SMTP server.
One of the biggest factors in getting on a blacklist is the list you use. There are many things spam cops track with relation to your list. Is your list rented or purchased? That can count against you because when you use rented lists the receivers are more likely to mark your message as spam. If very many people do that, you can get blacklisted. If you list contains lots of older email addresses, that can get you into trouble because it will likely result in a higher hard bounce rate which spam cops also track. Also, if your list ever contains email address that have been "harvested", (and the spam cops have lots of traps out there to track that) you almost certainly will get blacklisted. And finally, if your list has people who are not opt-ins (asked for information from your company) they are more likely to mark your message as spam as they delete it and that is not good, the isp's track this and may report this to spam cops or are at least likely to send your message to the junk folder if they deliver it at all.
Any mail server that has smtp enabled is fine to use with our software. Make sure that your client adds the mail server they are going to use to their domain registration, so that the reverse dns checks out. Many of our customers use either PowerMTA by Port 25, Ironport or Ispwitch for their mail servers.
You are eligible for free upgrades when you maintain an active support plan. Updates are free whether you have support or not.
To recap, Campaign Enterprise:
- Helps you manage bounces
- Helps you manage unsubscribes and includes list-unsubscribe headers, which are important
- Message personalization helps you create relevant emails based on your client's interests
- Database interaction helps you hone your message personalization for more targeted, and therefore more relevant lists