By: Chris Lewis
From time to time we get questions concerning email address verification. Though many SMTP servers allow the verification of email addresses there are probably just as many that don't allow it. So, email verification at it's best is about 50% accuracy using the method the internet RFC guru's designed. Thanks to SPAMers this built in verification system is not very usable, especially with the big email providers.
Campaign Enterprise and Email Marketing Director do not have this email verification capability mainly because doing mass email verification can cause your SMTP server to become blacklisted. Many SPAMers use this technique with fabricated email lists in hope of getting valid email addresses (ie: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,...). So while it is an important thing to keep your list clean it should be done as if you were a normal one-at-a-time emailer that gets a bounce when the email is bad, then you don't send to it again. When you send out the first email campaign on a new list you will receive bounces if the email addresses are not valid. It is important to receive these emails and mark them as bounces to not send to them again. There are two reasons for this: First, you don't want your campaign to waste time sending to these addresses again. If your list is small, this may not matter, but if your list is big, or you are paying for each email sent out through a service, it is especially important. Second, if you keep sending emails that bounce your SMTP server will acquire a bad reputation will eventually get blacklisted.
There are verifications services that specialize in the field of email list cleaning that have good internet reputations, are known for being good citizens of the internet, and are allowed mass verifications of lists. One of them we recommend is http://freshaddress.com. You send them a list and they will make sure each address is usable, and they also do other services like email forwarding if the email address has changed.
If you use sending services like SMTP.C
Taking the time or spending the money to get your list clean will have many benefits over the cost. If you try to save money here and do it marginally you may end up spending a great deal more in time and money trying to get your SMTP server off blacklists.
By: Chris Lewis
Click-Throughs are are one vehicle you can use to track your email effectiveness. A link in your email could go directly to your website, but if you use a click-through, the link initially goes to the Campaign Enterprise system, marks in your database that "this person" visited "this link", and then the person is forwarded to the intended website. Now it is possible that you could use a normal link, with some parameters in the link, to track who came to the website, but then you have to get your website designers involved and if you do a lot of campaigns then it because hard to manage. Setting up click throughs can be a challenge depending on where your computer running Campaign Enterprise is positioned.
If your computer is "exposed" to the internet, then you will have a fixed external IP assigned to the computer you have Campaign Enterprise running. If this is case, it is recommended that you make a new sub-domain (like ct.yourdomain.com) and assign the A record in your DNS to point to your server's IP address. It is true you could have a click through link in your email with just the IP address of the Campaign Enterprise computer but most recipient SPAM filters will see this and reject the email, so a domain in your URL is preferred. In the Campaign Enterprise Administration area, you need to set that domain name up in the click through URL section. This will cause this domain to be used in the click-throughs that are created for the emails. If you need to send emails on someone else's behalf, and you need the domain name to be different for each campaign, then in the Miscellaneous tab when editing a campaign you can set a specific URL. Each domain or sub-domain you use here will need to have it own DNS A record entry. If you leave this blank it will use the default URL from the Administration area.
Also, if possible, you should us port 80 for your click through settings as found in the Administration area. By default, Campaign Enterprise is set at port 81 for click through, but this is usually just for demo purposes. If we set the default to port 80, you might already have another program on your machine that is listening to port 80 and the installation of Campaign Enterprise would fail. Make sure you don't have another software using port 80 on your system and make that change in the Administration area in Campaign when you are ready to go live.
Campaign Enterprise will "listen" for responses from the outside but that does not guarantee that people will be able to communicate with the software. There could be firewalls, antivirus system, web-proxies, or even port limitations that would block email recipients from communicating with the Campaign Enterprise system. So, here are some things to check if things are not working out:
1. Make sure your URL is pointing to the correct IP address for your machine. You can do this by using NSLOOKUP command from DOS, or from the Terminal program on a MAC (in the Applications/Utilities folder). Type in NSLOOKUP, then type in your domain name and hit enter, then you will see the IP address the DNS system "thinks" is your correct IP address for your machine.
2. If that works, then make sure the IP address you are using is an "real internet IP" and not an internal IP assigned in your network.
3. If you are using a web-proxy or external firewall then you will have to tell these systems to send the click through traffic to your Campaign Enterprise system (an internal IP address). This is sometimes called "port forwarding".
4. Be sure sure to check for personal firewalls on the computer running Campaign Enterprise. Windows can use two different types of firewalls. There is a firewall built into Windows and can be found in the control panel. If this firewall is turned on, then chances are people will not be able to get to the Campaign Enterprise system to activate click-throughs. You will need to make an "exception" in this area to allow the traffic to make it through to Campaign Enterprise. Some servers do not use the firewall but use IPSec (IP Security) which is much more specific and a bit harder to configure and test. If your system uses IPSec you will have to make an entry to allow the Campaign Enterprise traffic to make it through. These two system can be configured by your system administrator.
Overall, having traffic coming back your server is the most difficult aspect of configuration. This is due to the fact that it is a dangerous world out there and having traffic coming back your server needs to be locked down hard to avoid having your system infected by something.