By: Chris Lewis
One of the uses of Campaign Enterprise is to send out triggered emails like for birthdays, anniversaries, or other info that has to be sent on X-amount of days after a date. The following example sends out an email 3 days after someone signs up for information:
First, we have a table where information about your signups are stored. For this example we will call this tblSignups. In this table, we need a date column in this table to trigger on in your email. For this example, we will have the column called "SignupDate" and this should be set at the date that the person signs up on your website.
Next, we create a campaign that we want to use to send the email and on the Datasource tab we use this following SQL statement (assuming MS SQL Server):
SELECT * FROM tblSignUps WHERE DateDiff(dd,SignupDate,GetDate())=3
Now for this Campaign to work, the campaign will need to be scheduled to run each day at the same time. If a day is missed, then that day's emails will not go out. The only way to make sure all emails go out is having another column in the database that is marked when the email is sent, and then you can check that in the SQL statement used for sending. For example, if you had another column called EmailSent (a BIT type) that was set when the email was sent, you would use an SQL statement like this:
SELECT * FROM tblSignUps WHERE DateDiff(dd,SignupDate,GetDate())=>3 and EmailSent=0
You can add more sophistication to these statements but this is a good start.
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
Mass Email Professionals have a job to do, and that is to get the emails into INBOXes. To make an email campaign successful, there are things that need to be in place before you hit the send button or it is possible that even though all your emails seemed to go out, many of your emails could be in the SPAM box which is as good as the recipient not getting the email at all. So, in order to increase your effectiveness in getting those emails delivered correctly, there are some guidelines you should follow that will be true for many of the big email providers like Gmail, AOL, and hotmail.
Make sure you have an SPF record in your DNS!
This is the #1 problem why email does not make it to the recipient, and many times you wont even know it. Gmail requires this, and every email sent to it, it makes sure the SPF record is there. At best, it goes into the Spam folder, at worst, it does not make it at all.
Make sure your links in your emails are not IP addresses and that they use port 80 (HTTP)
Many times you can just cut and past a URL not really noticing that the URL is an IP address or that it may even use a non-standard port. These are huge red-flags to recipient email systems. Also, try not to make the "test" part of a hyperlink the same URL. Use real words like, "Click here to see..." or something.
Make sure your subject line is not too "flower-y"
Using all upper case words or lots of punctuation in your subject line can cause a higher spam score. You want to attract attention to your subject but it should be done tactfully. Use some type of useful information that is very specific to the recipient so that you may attract their attention. Just mentioning their name is not good enough, and can sometimes be annoying and look like SPAM. Be specific! Think about what you would click on if you saw your subject line. Getting an email to an INBOX and not having the recipient even open it is a crime! Bad examples of this are:
YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!
Hello Chris, I think you will like this
It sounds simple, but you would be surprised by how many do this type of thing in the subject. This happens a lot too when the email is not written by a person not using primary language skills or different cultures. I don't mean to be harmful here, but many terms and sayings can be outdated or actually repelling, so make sure you edit things before sending out. Overall, write emails like you were just writing to one person in a normal scenario.
A new label is being applied to a specific category of unwanted emails. BACN is the "clever" new acronym that applies to emails that don't quite fall into unsolicited bulk email, or as highly prized and desired email. It falls somewhere in between on the desirability scale. As email marketers it is imperative that you take steps to avoid your messages falling into the BACN designation.
What is BACN?
Unlike SPAM, BACN email is slightly more palatable, but too much of it is not good for you. The email that falls into this category is best described as something you signed up for, but don't really read. However, you don't want to unsubscribe because every so often you might get a golden nugget of information, or a coupon for something you really need. From the email marketer's standpoint, the problem with BACN email is that it is rarely read.
There are three major steps you can take to avoid the BACN designation:
By: Chris Lewis
Well, not really for dummies, but knowing more about this anti-spam system will help you get your emails into the Inbox. Most of the time, the question is, "should I use DKIM for my email sending..." YES! "Will it ensure my emails get into Inboxes?" NO! But, it helps a ton. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a method for associating domain name to an email message thereby allowing a person, role, or organization to claim some responsibility for the message.
Here is how it works:
- You send an email using your SMTP server.
- Your SMTP server that has authority to send in behalf of your domain adds a DKIM signiture header to your email and sends it
- The destination SMTP receives the email, sees a DKIM signature in the email, and then looks up the public signature on your domain using via DNS
- If the signature in your email authenticates with the public signature in your email, then the email is "good"
Now, saying that the email is "good" means that the destination SMTP knows it is from you, but the destination mail server will still SPAM score your email by the content. DKIM adds a ton of "good" SPAM scoring advantage to your email and thus will greatly improve it's inbox-ability.
So, if you are not using DKIM, use it! Click here is a great link in Wikipedia on the subject
Understand this will not have anything to do with your email sending client, like Outlook or Campaign Enterprise. The system works because it is on a SMTP server level of activity and is based on authority that can only be established by domain owners.
By: Chris Lewis
Working with clients over the past 15 years on email projects I have seen some really great emails. Many times I have seen these great emails have really bad subject lines. You may craft the best email ever, but if your subject line is not done correctly, it is like it never existed. The subject line many times is just an afterthought right before you send the emails but it is probably the most important element of an email. When a recipient receives the email, they usually only see two pieces of information that determine whether it is worth opening your email is the From and the Subject.
So spend a good amount of time crafting your subject line. Here are some guidelines to consider:
There are several different accepted methods in use now that keep spammers from being successful. One of those methods is the SPF designation. In order for your emails not to be rejected by the recipients mail system we recommend that you create a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record for your domain. An SPF record is a type of Domain Name Service (DNS) record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain.
The purpose of an SPF record is to prevent spammers from sending messages with forged From addresses at your domain. Recipients can refer to the SPF record to determine whether a message purporting to be from your domain comes from an authorized mail server.
For example, suppose that your domain example.com uses Gmail. You create an SPF record that identifies the Google Apps mail servers as the authorized mail servers for your domain. When a recipient's mail server receives a message from email@example.com, it can check the SPF record for example.com to determine whether it is a valid message. If the message comes from a server other than the Gmail's mail servers listed in your domain's SPF record, the recipient's mail server can reject it as spam.
If your domain does not have an SPF record, some recipient domains may reject messages from your users because they cannot validate that the messages come from an authorized mail server.
To Create an SPF record for your domain, you will have to be able to edit your domains DNS information and use a format that specifies your mail servers.
By: Chris Lewis
The choice of the SMTP server you use is as if not more important that the email marketing tool you us. You can create the best looking, most effective email ever but if your SMTP server setup is not set up well then it is like you never sent it.
SMTP servers are the email work-horses of the internet. In the world of amazing technology, it is sometimes hard to be impressed, but I am constantly amazed by the thought and foreknowledge of the whole SMTP server framework. As time has moved on, the SMTP framework has changed, and the biggest change is that of SPAM control. There are to main problem areas we see daily with SMTP servers: How to connect to your SMTP server, and how "good" your SMTP actually functions.
SMTP Connection - The problems that are encountered when connecting to SMTP servers are varied and usually include these:
SMTP Providers - There are specialized companies out there that will act as your SMTP server. They will ensure your emails going out are appropriately make to conform to SPAM rules, they monitor their servers to make sure they are not blocked, and they will help you resolve issues that do come up is there are any problems with email recipients. Now it is true this will cost you some money, but if you add up all the time you or someone you will hire to work on these issues I think the value is there. If you are sending 100,000 emails a month, then the prices are really reasonable. If you send over a million, then that is maybe when you can start thinking of having your own SMTP server, but it really depends on the connectivity, your budget, and your expertise. One of our partners is SMTP.com (http://arialsoftware.smtp.com) and they have been a great partner with us for years. There are others, but I think they are the best, so check them out if this seems like a solution for you.
By: Jim Kinkade
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.
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:
In June 2005, Microsoft began to implement its check for Sender ID records of its Hotmail and MSN email accounts using their version of a specification known as Sender Policy Framework (SPF). Sender ID is only slightly different than SPF, in face Sender ID is specified in the Sender ID string as "v=spf2." Sender ID records are simple identification records attached to the Domain Name Server(s). This identification allows the recipient mail server to determine that email being received is coming from a domain authorized to send that email.
Legitimate email marketers will definitely want to take the time to establish a Sender ID, or risk non-delivery of a substantial portion of their legitimate email messages. Those messages could either be automatically blocked or sent to the recipient’s junk email folder if they fail the check. It will only be a matter of time before other large online email accounts and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also begin to check Sender ID to authenticate email. MSN and Hotmail already check for Sender ID records, although it does not yet block unauthorized senders.
It is extremely important to test your email messages in a variety of email clients, including Hotmail. If no Sender ID record is associated with the domain name server, the message displays a warning, indicating that the sender could not be verified. Depending on the recipient's filter settings, the message may never even be seen. Each incident will add to the deniability rate, as the ISP learns more about a particular machine’s email practices. It is important to configure your Sender ID as soon as possible.
Here's how to configure your Sender ID
Simply go to the Sender ID Framework wizard at http://www.anti-spamtools.org/SenderIDEmailPolicyTool/Default.aspx and follow the four easy steps (These steps may need to be taken by your network administrator, who should readily understand all the technical instructions that will be requested). Additional configuration may be necessary for companies with multiple name servers, or those who are sending email on behalf of companies with a different domain. Once the initial record is made, there are options for implementing more advanced features of Sender ID.
Once implemented, it is a good idea to check the Sender ID record (this check can also occur ahead of time, in case the network administrator already has Sender ID in place). Go to http://www.dnsreport.com and enter the domain name to check. The results of the Sender ID test appear toward the bottom of the report at the end of the "Mail" section. If there is no record, a yellow warning is displayed, with some information on why you need Sender ID.
Another new term associated with Sender ID and Sender ID is Purported Responsible Address, or PRA. The PRA is a modification to Sender ID on the recipient mail server that should address concerns about blocking forwarded messages. Microsoft will shortly be implementing PRA in their mail servers, namely Hotmail and MSN. As a sender, the only step you need to take for PRA configuration is to ensure that the Sender ID is associated with the proper domain; the recipient mail server determines whether it will simply look for the Sender ID or implement PRA.
For more information about Sender ID, you can visit the Sender ID home page at http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/safety/technologies/senderid/default.mspx.