Email Marketing Tips, Tricks, & Articles

Email Marketing Video Tutorials Show you how to plan, create, and send successful newsletters.

Read Email Marketing Tips and Lessons written by Michelle Keegan, Constant Contact's Email Marketing Diva.

Learn E-Marketing Lingo from the glossary of Email Marketing terms.

by Michelle Keegan, Constant Contact's Email Marketing Diva(TM)

"Seriously Dude, Where's My Email?"

In a previous article entitled "Dude, Where's my email?," I gave an overview of all types of email bounces. Today, in the sequel, I want to cover a few of the hottest subjects in email marketing today: email blocking, email filters and false positives. I'll define the issues and terms, explain what industry experts are doing on your behalf and tell you what you can do to make sure your permission-based email gets through.

>>>Let's start with some staggering statistics:
 

"In 2002, the average consumer received an estimated 2,300 pieces of spam email. By 2007, the number is projected to grow to 3,600 pieces."
 

Jupiter Media

"Spam cost US corporations $8.9 billion in 2002, and will cost these companies $10 billion in 2003."

Ferris Research

Is it any wonder that ISPs and corporations are now doing everything they can to stem the tide of spam flowing into their users' email inboxes?

But despite all of the efforts to decrease spam, a foolproof solution has not yet been created. And, as a result of current email blocking and filtering techniques (see definitions below), a lot of legitimate permission-based email is being blocked as well. In the industry, we call this a "false-positive."

"On average, 15% of legitimate commercial email does not make it to the intended inbox," according to Assurance Systems' Fourth Quarter Email Blocking and Filtering Report.

>>>So, what do "false positives" mean to you?

 

If you were one of the early admission applicants to Harvard University eagerly awaiting email notification of your acceptance or rejection last December, you could have been among 100 of those applicants who never received word. All because Harvard emails were inadvertently flagged as junk mail and blocked by AOL.

And, to quote Trevor Hughes, Executive Director of The Network Advertising Initiative: "If you're expecting a g^ft cert^ficate from an online bookstore or a city meeting notice, you may never see it due to the blacklists and filters that are currently in place. Or a message to your accountant may bounce, if someone has put the server that handles your company's email on its blacklist. A message from a long lost high school buddy may be filtered if he uses too many exclamation marks."

 

Sounds grim, huh? It really isn't. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

Spam is universally recognized as an industry wide crisis on the Internet and experts representing all areas of knowledge are working together like never before to come up with a solution.

>>>Here's what the experts are up to:

 

The National Advertising Initiative (NAI) Email Service Provider Coalition is a group comprised of companies that provide email services to the full spectrum of the marketplace. The coalition's goal is to provide solutions to the spam problem and to protect the appropriate use of email as a business and marketing communications tool.

I_Did_Not_Get_My_Email
To help the email industry to develop better and more accurate spam filtering techniques, this Yahoo Groups forum (supported by the NAI) has been established as a place to report the non-delivery of email that was wanted, but was blocked. Join the group and report your own missing email.

JamSpam is an industry-wide initiative against spam with participants representing many communities, including producers of e-mail client and server technologies, ISPs, e-mail service providers, legitimate e-mail marketers, and security vendors. These groups have come together to produce an anti-spam protocol that interoperates between the many email-enabled systems that are connected to the Internet.

The Federal Trade Commission has also taken notice and is hosting a three-day "Spam Forum" April 30 through May 2 to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail and to explore the technical, legal, and financial issues associated with it. The FTC is encouraging attendance by e-mail marketers, anti-spammers, Internet Service Providers, ISP abuse department personnel, spam filter operators, other e-mail technology professionals, consumers, consumer groups, and law enforcement officials.

>>>But, what can you do to make sure your permission-based email gets through?

 

If your email is being blocked at a particular company or ISP, ask your subscribers to help by contacting their postmaster and requesting to have your email "un-blocked."

If your email is being filtered, check your from line, subject line and email copy and avoid using key words that might look like spam to a content-based spam filter:

 

  • ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
  • Excessive punctuation
  • Excessive use of "cl^ck here," $$, and other symbols
  • The words fr^e, guarant^e, sp^m, cr^dit card, s^x, etc.
  • Redundant unsubscribe instructions

     

Note: If these words are essential to your message, use a variation - fr*e or fr^e - as I did above, to avoid being incorrectly filtered.

Finally, if some of your email is being blocked, know that you're not alone. And, if you are using an established email service provider, like Constant Contact, know that you are in good hands. Why?

Because a reputable email service provider:

 

  • Delivers your emails using the proper protocols.
  • Maintains strong permission policies and an active anti-blocking team working on your behalf.
  • Develops relationships with ISPs and is whitelisted (see definition below) to ensure their customers' permission-based email gets through.
  • Provides reports and bounce management and helps you stay on top of current best practices - like including a failsafe one-click unsubscribe link in every email.
  • Is at the forefront of the industry, protecting the appropriate use of email as a business and marketing communications tool through its involvement in organizations like the ones listed above.

     

And, if a problem does arise, a good email service provider gets more attention than you could ever get on your own.

"Seriously dude," help is here and there's more on the way. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here is a glossary of terms to add to your repertoire:

 

>>>  Glossary of Terms
 
 
  • Email Blocking - Email blocking occurs when the receiving email server (e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail etc.) prevents an inbound email from reaching the inbox of the intended recipient. Most of the time the sender of the email receives a "bounce" message notifying the sender that their email has been blocked.

     

  • Filters - Filtering" is a technique used to block email based on the content in the "from:" line, "subject:" line, or body copy of an email. Filtering software searches for key words and other indicators that identify the email as potential spam. This type of blocking occurs on a per email basis.

     

  • False Positive - A false positive occurs when a legitimate permission-based email is incorrectly filtered or blocked as spam.

     

  • Blacklist - It is common for an ISP to a use a blacklist to determine which emails should be blocked. Blacklists contain lists of domains or IP addresses of known and suspected spammers. Unfortunately, these blacklists also contain many legitimate email service providers. Just a few spam complaints can land an email service provider or IP address on a blacklist despite the fact that the ratio of complaints to volume of email sent is extremely low.

     

  • Whitelist - A whitelist is the opposite of a blacklist. Instead of listing IP addresses to block, a whitelist includes IP addresses that have been approved to deliver email despite blocking measures. It is common practice for ISPs to maintain both a blacklist and a whitelist. When email service providers, like Constant Contact, say they are "whitelisted" it means that their IP addresses are on a specific ISP's whitelist and are confident that emails sent using their service will be delivered.

     

 

Email Marketing Video Tutorials Show you how to plan, create, and send successful newsletters.

Read Email Marketing Tips and Lessons written by Michelle Keegan, Constant Contact's Email Marketing Diva.

Learn E-Marketing Lingo from the glossary of Email Marketing terms.

by Michelle Keegan, Constant Contact's Email Marketing Diva(TM)
 

Email Marketing Tips, Tricks, & Articles