Pat

Are the emails you send today going into the SPAM filter of tomorrow?

Are the emails you send today going into the SPAM filter of tomorrow?

Are the emails you send today stopped by the SPAM filter of tomorrow?

Is there a way to improve your email deliverability just by optimizing available email features – but you can’t get it right no matter what you do?

Before you call spamin the experts: your ESP, considered the following short list that mailers use to keep their email messages from being trashed.

1. Whitelisting. This can be done at the IP level, the domain or the email address you are sending from.  When you’re whitelisted, you are on the approved sender list.

2. As a sender, you might consider breaking up a very large list into smaller blocks.  If you receive SPAM complaints (Even if you have a squeaky-clean list it will happen) when you send in smaller blocks, these complaints will not come in all at once, which may put you on a blacklist.

3. Clean your lists.  When you continue to send to a bad email address, or you have a habit of not removing bounced messages when you should, eventually, your IP will be awarded a higher SPAM score.  With a high SPAM rating, your deliverability and sender’s reputation will naturally decrease.

4. Always provide a quick easy way to unsubscribe from your list.  I know, for myself, I dislike clicking an unsubscribe link only to be brought to a questionnaire. You do not want your member to become frustrated with unsubscribe polices and report you as a SPAMMER, so make it easy for them to leave.

5. Test your message before you release your campaign to your entire list.  Send the completed message not only to your test audience, send it to your Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc., so you can test both opens and delivery.

6. Did you know that SPAM and Junk filters check your message content for messy HTML code to earmark that type of message as SPAM?  Create content with the built-in HTML editor provided by your ESP or another email specific program.  A few programs to avoid are Microsoft WORD and Publisher.  These programs are notorious for adding extra HTML characters and styling into your work. If you insist on using them anyway, review the completed content in an editor so you can eliminate the extra HTML characters and styling that is added by these programs.   AND if you cut and paste your content to make a template, you are also copying the formatting, creating more extra HTML characters and styling problems.  You may find yourself with sloppy code with an increased message size, incorrect rendering in email clients with added links to unknown or unwanted places.

7. There’s also the school of thought not to use one big embedded image as your content, as SPAM filters seem to look for this too.  Typical SPAMMERS use large one-page Images, to pass along messages that are unseen to the filters, like Viagra advertising.

When you need the experts:

As you know sometimes it’s not only a matter of trust but a matter of volume.

As mentioned before, breaking up your list to send in smaller chunks may not avoid the filters but complaints will not hit you all at once.  Is that a SPAMMER trick, maybe?  Do you want to be associated with SPAM, probably not?   And there’s no guarantee that your IP wouldn’t be blacklisted once an ISP starts to receive complaints about a specific mailing.

Having a list of 5 million emails to send out, breaking them up in chunks of 1 million will not lessen the number of SPAM complaints you may receive.  SPAM and Junk filters count the number of emails an IP address sends at a time.  If you have a substantial number of members and you have found your message landing in the SPAM filter more times than not, ask your ESP is to send your messages out slowly over a dedicated IP.

A dedicated IP address helps keep your sending reputation intact.  Even so, it’s interesting to note big volume senders can be slowed down by the receiving ISPs (Yahoo or Gmail for example). They do this by executing rate limits on your messages.

Rate limits, also known as throttling,  are put in place by the ISP mail server administrator.  Basically, the ISP limits the number of connections per hour they accept to prevent mail servers from being overtaxed.   Limits are used to deter spam.  Generally, a list sends messages over one dedicated IP or shared IP that connects to the ISP.   Dundee uses the concept of mail streams, which bind one or more IP addresses together to form a common sending unit, distributing messages out in parallel.  This method increases the speed of delivery as mail streams open more connections during email delivery but increases the tolerance of sending blocks.  Simply put, if one IP address is blocked by rate limits, ListManager can continue to send messages out using the other IP address associated with the mailstream in order to maximize delivery.

SPF can also assist with email delivery. This is another form or email authentication, explained more fully in this article: “Are You Really an Email Marketer OR Are You Forging This Email Address?”

Even if you do all these things perfectly, your emails may still end up in the junk folder.  Email spam filter criteria change almost daily and can be impacted by things that you have no control over. However, if you, as a habit, send good email that your clients want, you’ll get into the inbox more often than not, I’m only suggesting following the above guidelines because, once an email provider thinks that your email is spam, it is very hard to get back into the inbox!

Even if you do all the above suggestions perfectly, your emails may still end up in the junk folder.  Email spam filter standards change all the time and can be affected by things you have no control over.  You can get to that in-box more often than not regardless.  Always send content your members want, follow best practices and keep up that good sending reputation.  Because, once your email is marked as a SPAM by a recipient, intentional or not, its difficult to get back in the inbox.

Write-Send-inboxSmile

 

 

Never Say Never or FREE email advice, today only.

Never Say Never or FREE email advice, today only.

Never say never to Free Email Advice

The Deal of The Year sale is next month. As an email marketer, you want to grab the attention of your list members and be able to direct them to your website with a coupon incentive. You have everything ready except the Subject Line. You believe the best Subject Line for this event can only be “Deal of the Year”. However, you’re reconsidering the Subject Line, as you say to yourself:

“Self, can I use the word Deal in a Subject Line and get away with it?”

teeth

You are concerned, with a Subject Line like that, your email will be considered too SPAMMY to be passed on to the inbox by most Junk filters.  Are you right?

I’m sure you’ve heard or read somewhere, never use the words “Free, Discount or Deal in your Subject Line. These words, according to some, invite Spam filters to trash your message.

I suppose using the word Free or Deal or even Discount may trigger the spam filter, but if you regularly send out informative emails to a list of people who opted into your list, the message will bypass the filters, landing where it should. And using a word like Free, once in a while might pique curiosity with results such as an increase in opens.peeking through

And as far as deliverability, as I said this should not be a problem especially if the recipient has opened your emails in the past and hasn’t marked them as SPAM.

In fact, depending on your reputation and past content, Free or Deal may be a great word to use. Remember to use those words wisely and consider personalize your Subject Line for added impact.

Addressing someone by their name in the Subject Line is nothing new. Once in a while, instead of addressing the Subject as “Mary, the Deal of the Year is Here”, try using a pronoun instead; “The Deal of the Year is here, just for YOU.” Either way, the Subject Line adds a personal touch. And to decide which to use, always do a few A/B tests to figure out which works better with your audience.

And while you’re getting personal, how long should your subject Line be, in other words, how many characters? There have been several studies on the ideal length of an email Subject Line – search under the ideal length of a Subject Line to see various schools of thought. For myself, I think the Subject Line should be limited to the idea you’re trying to get across. I’m not saying make a paragraph or a long run on sentence, but something readable and interesting enough for your reader to want to know more. And should these messages always be in HTML with images and graphics?

Plain text messages aren’t pretty. They do not include links to your sale or coupon, in fact, they are very similar to emailing a typed letter. Some recipients prefer it. In fact, with Dundee ListManager, when you create your HTML message, a text message is created too. The use of multipart MIME, (actually called actually called Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)

The multi-part MIME also assists in email delivery – as most spam filters like this format, they want to see that there’s a plain text version as well as an HTML version. And as for your subscribers: Statically people are less suspicious of a plain text message versus an HTML message. For them, it’s a matter of security and even privacy.

Speaking of subscribers, did someone tell you never to use those pop-ups to grow your list? Pop-ups are actually very useful for subscriber growth. jack in the box

There are some considerations, including the timing, the design, and the offer. Pop-ups are very successful and versatile for email capture. They are so popular there are even several Email Pop-up Best Practices posts on the net to review.

Speaking of reviews, have you read that using one big image in an email is bad? Well, it might be if the recipient doesn’t download the image that would allow him to read your message. And then consider the belief that image only emails are a red flag to most spam filter blocking them as the first line of defense. But then again there are cases where an email warrants a large image. You’ll have to experiment with A/B testing to find out. Overall, occasionally a large image is fine.

What about writing a Subject line in ALL CAPITALS? The old school of thought tells you that using all capital letters is rude, it’s a form of printed yelling. But that’s not true, in fact depending on the point you are expressing, capitulation is just fine. It may be a bit harder to read, that’s all. You could go extreme and leave out a subject altogether.

Subject Lines matter, as its goal is to get the recipient to read your message. With a solid email reputation and known brand, it may be fun to send out a blank email and see what the response rate is.

And did you know you can increase your response rate if you incorporate emojis in your Subject Line? 😍 Emojis statistically increase in open rates. They can evoke an emotional response, they are creative and appear to be something that took time to do -the downside, the emojis, do not look the same in all email clients, some testing is in order to use them – But emoji’s save space and if you can’t say it with words say it with an emoji 🙌

Putting emoji’s aside, to be successful, break some rules, have some fun, try different things. Not everything will work, but you might be surprised what does.

Social Media -is it the best marketing tool around?

Social Media -is it the best marketing tool around?

You heard is all before: Email and email lists, were the best marketing tool around.

Why is that?  Is it because email marketing is a quick, easy, cheap, way to grow your customer base or is it an old technology, quickly being replaced by new social communication tools people are gravitating toward?

So, is the email format is too old school to use?

antiquesBefore you answer, let’s take a trip down memory lane and review some of the unsuccessful social networks that encouraged outside advertisers.

MySpace – They enjoyed about 6 years of fame, and at one point they notably had more visitors than Google.  MySpace is currently active, you probably can join, but it is not the social media giant it once was.  The memory most people have of MySpace, it was hacked in 2016

BEBO , purchased by AOL, outran MySpace and became the most widely used social network in the UK.   AOL stated that BEBO platform was not competitive enough to continue.

Vine allowed members to upload short video loops,  attracting upwards of  200 million members.  Twitter bought Vine, and disabled it in 2016.  You can still view Vine Videos for older content.

Friendster started as a great social networking site, attracting the attention of Facebook and Google; both wanted to purchase the platform.  Instead of selling, eventually, Friendster relaunched itself into a gaming site.  In 2015 it closed for “lack of engagement by the online community”.

About.ME allowed anyone to set up an information page for themselves.   About.Me was sold to AOL and then resold by AOL. It is still active, but not nearly as popular as it once was.

Then there’s Google+.  My businesses are on Google+, having hopes of great connections and higher ranking.  However, Google+ did not achieve what it set out to do, compete with Facebook, so it’s faltering.  Most users found, and still find this platform clunky, with a bland interface for sharing messages and images.  It’s active but normally not actively used.  By the way, Google+ this is their 4th attempt to create a good social Media platform and is closing down.

Ping, short-lived, vague network launched in 2010 and closed its doors soon after in 2012.  Apple used ping to promote social and music networking.  The cited failure “did not integrate with other popular networks.

The Hub by Hasbro and Disney was hailed as a misguided and confusing platform that poorly tied shopping to culture and social networking.  The intended user base was children, who probably didn’t even know about it unless their parents were involved

Somewhat popular is the social network called Stories, which allows members posts to remain on their platform for a short 24 hours before they disappear.   They, like the others, offer an advertising feed, to bring in the cash.

These few examples show us that nothing lasts forever, so spend your marketing dollars wisely.   But, consider that the history of email runs so much deeper than Social Networking.  Through the years email continues to be first, the number one communication tool, surpassing the popularity of Facebook and all others – and interestingly enough, most, if not all these social network platforms require a working email address to access them.

Email marketing on its own yields the best bang for the buck overall social media marketing?  Campaign Monitor’s 2018 research found “For every $1 spent on email marketing $44 is made in return” and Salesforce states “Email marketing has an average ROI of 3,800 percent. For every dollar invested, the base return is $38” – that’s an average of $41 ROI between the two studies!

Email Marketing is successful because:

email marketing man

Email is like first class postal delivery – it is delivered to the person it’s addressed to, sent to their inbox.  With personal inbox delivery, you know your message was received, you do not have to depend on your customer sorting through hundreds of posts to find your latest message or remember to go to a certain URL to see your latest announcement.

It’s a staple for communication.  Most people, (okay some people) can go for days without logging into their Facebook account or check the latest post on Instagram.  And when they do check their social media networks, they may never get to your post, just because of all the missed social media messages they are catching up on.   Even when your “fans” are notified they missed, (for example) “40 Tweets” and have 25 notifications waiting, few actually care.

Email can be entertaining or deadly serious. Email is very customizable.  You can use any Subject, add an image, color or sound.  You can use tools to customize your message to Mary, Dear Mary, Dear Miss Mary or any name you like:  because email allows you to personalize each and every piece of email that leaves your computer.  Target a specific group of people, based on their clicks, automate an email follow up, automatically send an immediate Thank you for their purchase and so much more.  With Dundee email list services, you can even prewrite Birthday greetings, or emails to mark those memorable dates, that will be sent on the future date you desire.  With email services by Dundee, you can even form a neighbor watch discussion group with searchable archives – so much easier to follow than Facebook postings.

Email is also s a fantastic sales tool.  Your list subscribers are people who are interested in your services and/or product.  They opted-in to receive your emails, they want to hear what you have to say.  In fact, your list members statically speaking are 79% more likely to purchase from you before they purchase because of your Facebook page, posting, and advertisements.

Did I mention that Email is inexpensive, quick and immediate?

Email also tells you where you went wrong or right.  Dundee Internet email services produce detail reports with every email campaign.

List admins can view for example:

The Report Dashboard: displays a variety of information in a graphic format about recent mailings, member lists, server performance, and sales resulting from your email marketing.

Tracking statistics: Indicates how many people opened your message, clicked on a tracked URL, or who have gone from one of your mailings through to other pages on your Web site.

And you can test which message format your members are likely to be more receptive too, by changing Subjects, color, content, layout, and images in your test emails.  In fact, with Dundee, you can test anything in your email before you make it an active campaign.

Keep in mind the success of an email campaign, may depend on the email marketer reading and analyzing the reports.  Email marketing success has a foundation with a list that has quality members, who are opted-in and familiar or getting familiar with your brand.  While social media allows you to advertise and talk about your brand, it may only be a temporary platform until the next best one comes along.  Email, the old technology is here to stay.

Email Security: Are You Really An Email Marketer Or Are You Forging This Email Address?

Email Security: Are You Really An Email Marketer Or Are You Forging This Email Address?

Do you ever think about email security? I suppose it depends where you are in the internet chain.

As the email marketer, your concerns are normally focused on deliverability, ROI, content, opens, and so forth.  Most likely you probably leave email security to your employer, your IT department and your email hosting provider.  Those aforementioned entities have a shared security concern with a bigger community of companies and organizations:  Those include the email abuse groupsthe blacklist monitors and ISP’s both big and small.  Why? –  because regardless of who and how you get online when you’re on the Internet, security, or lack of email security affects you one way or another.
  • On a daily basis, we usually receive unwanted annoying messages that fill our inbox and Junk folder known as SPAM
  • Do you find yourself tempted by messages from the King of some Country willing to share their wealth?
  • We are educated to know that clicking on a link included in an email, even from someone we may know, can infect our computer with Malware (adware, zero days, viruses, trojans, etc.)…………..…..By the way, do you know you still owe the IRS $150?

However, there are a few tools available for email security that will stop exploits and fraudulent emails.  Fraud can be lessened by using SPF. Sender Policy Framework.

SPF is an older protocol to authenticate email, designed to stop forged emails, but not designed to stop SPAM. Its all about stopping a potential forger from sending emails on your behalf. It identifies a domain (the last part of an email address, like gmail.com) as a legitimate mail source from the sender and blocks unauthorized domains from getting through.

SPF is all about communication with the correct servers,

All this is accomplished with the magic of DNS also known as the Domain Name System.  The DNS of a website takes the IP address of a domain (Internet Protocol) and converts it into a human-readable domain name.  For example, the IP address 50.121.73.21, which belongs to Frontier Communications can be found by typing frontier.com in any search bar instead of 50.121.73.21. (IP number mapping to actual domain name translation was discovered in the 1980s.)
Don’t’ you agree it’s a lot easier to remember amazon.com than the IP address 176.32.103.205.  IP number mapping to domain names allows all of us to easily type in any domain name in any web browser.
Now that you know something about DNS, o SPF: it’s a type of Domain Name Service (DNS) that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain.
How does SPF work you may ask?  Well, for instance, today you email Pete.  Your email once received, is verified and placed in Pete’s email inbox. How does Pete’s ISP know that the email you sent is really from you?  In reality, there’s no way to tell it’s really from you unless there is SPF setup on the DNS servers.

SPF protocols identify the IP addresses that are allowed to be used to send your emails from your domain.

So, with SPF in place: your email is sent to Pete’s mail server. Pete’s mail server, not knowing who you are, looks for an SPF record from your domain.  The SPF record shows the receiving email servers (Pete’s), the entire list of IPs that can be used on his behalf.  Once verified that your message is sent from one of those IP addresses listed on the SPF record your message is delivered to Pete.
What happens if SPF is not set up?  When you email Pete, again Pete’s mail server, not knowing who you are, looks for an SPF record from your domain.  This time it doesn’t find one.  Pete’s mail servers essentially say I can’t verify who you really are, without an SPF record your email is denied.  (even if a message fails SPF, there’s no guarantee it won’t be delivered. That final decision about delivery is up to the receiving ISP.)

spf flow chart

SPF flow Chart
Now that you know the general gist of SPF, as a marketer the best example I can give you, as a customer of Dundee.net list hosting service, our IP addresses should be included in your SPF record,

To recap, SPF is simply a way to authenticate incoming email.  The protocol allows the owner of the sending domain to stipulate which mail servers they use to send mail.

  • SPF is not a SPAM filter. It does not protect mail servers from being attacked.
  • SPF only works on the first email, in other words, a message that is forwarded does not include the initial SPF authentication, as it’s broken from that point
  • SPF helps with email delivery it doesn’t guarantee that the sender without SPF will be blocked by the receiving mail server.
  • SPF records should be kept up to date, as changes to services happen.
  • SPF along with DKIM are protocols
  • SPF is not required by all mail services to receive mail.
SPF is just one of the principal methods of email authentication used. as a defensive measure against phishing and spoofed email.
In conclusion from Wikipedia “If a domain publishes an SPF record, spammers and phishers are less likely to forge emails pretending to be from that domain, because the forged emails are more likely to be caught in spam filters which check the SPF record. Therefore, an SPF-protected domain is less attractive to spammers and phishers. Because an SPF-protected domain is less attractive as a spoofed address, it is less likely to be blacklisted by spam filters and so ultimately the legitimate email from the domain is more likely to get through”

How to be a Successful Email Marketer from Scratch for the Well Defined Customer

How to be a Successful Email Marketer from Scratch for the Well Defined Customer

Collect Email Addresses for the Well Define Customer

You just opened a small Bakery downtown.

start from scratch

Starting from Scratch

Your marketing includes a Facebook business page, you tweet, and post on Instagram.  E-commerce is part of your website for internet orders, but business isn’t booming.  You need another cost-effective way to attract and keep new customers.  Your Marketing Plan includes Email campaigns which are notably ideal for your business type plus extremely cost-effective.  You want to start this as soon as possible. However, you do not have a list of subscribers to work with.

The groundwork for any marketing plan starts with the well-defined customer

These are the people you want to reach with email.  Your Marketing plan helps identify the hypothetical ideal prospect and customer, what they look like, what industry are they in, male or female, old or young and so forth.  After you define your ideal customer, seek out those likeminded prospects – people who with the aptitude to turn into loyal customers.
Your ideal customer is most likely the people who already shop in your store or signed onto your website to look or buy your goods. These people are the ideal candidates for email marketing.

Start a membership list with your ideal candidates, your current customers, ask for their email address.  Collect email addresses at all the shopping touch points; in-person purchases, online shopping, craft shows, farmer markets, and vendor shows. Invite them to your join your list anytime you have an opportunity to do so.

user with a questionWho is your ideal customer?

Create sign-up forms that collect the data you need.  Share your email sign-up forms in your store, on your website, on your Facebook account, and at special events.

Once you add your customer’s email address to your members’ list, send a welcome letter and include a link to their profile page.

Profile Pages

With Dundee (aurea) ListManager member profile forms, list members can see and edit their collected information.  This is a useful way for members to change their email address or other demographic information all in one place. For example, ask if they interested in holiday baking or cake decorating classes or how many emails they want to receive in a month.  Ask anything that will be useful for you and your customer, because with this information, sending personalized one to one email messages is so much easier.

Send with Segments

Segment your contacts into different selling criteria: Use the information you gather to create segment categories for:

  • People who only buy goods during the holidays
  • That only purchasing with an offered discount
  • Shoppers who routinely order cakes
  • Pie lovers
  • Bargain hunters

Segments allow you to send targeted, relevant personalized email that will be read most times than not.  Next time you have a cake sale you’ll have a list of people who have indicated they are interested when your cakes go on sale.  Don’t forget to include people who shop online.

Reports

Any time you mail a campaign to your entire list or send specialized emails to list segments make it a habit to review your mailing reports.

Dundee (aurea) ListManager offers extensive reporting on your mailings and membership.  There are six categories of pre-built reports offered.

  1. Mailing
  2. Members
  3. Website
  4. Purchases
  5. Interest
  6. Surveys

If the report you need is not available: you can create your own custom report. Additionally, there is a built-in sales cycle map and a general map of all charts that allow you to access all reports more quickly

As you obtain new subscribers, Welcome them to your list.  Set up a succession of emails that follow the welcome letter, introduce them to your company, your products even an invitation to update their profile page.  Use the automation feature with ListManager to keep you new subscribers informed of what they can expect as a new member of your list.

Transactional Emails

Personalize all those transactional emails when you sell items, confirm reservations or just about anything you need to send an automatic reply. Send transactional emails to list members and non-list members with Dundee Internet ListManager.   Because these types of emails are shown to have the highest open rates of any email type include a call-to-action in your transactional message.

Write, Send and Grow!

Why Grow User Engagement With Email Just to Increase Your Sales?

Why Grow User Engagement With Email Just to Increase Your Sales?

Remember User Engagement because “Sales are coming to an electronic internet connected device to all”

Sale Tags

That’s right folks, we are getting closer to another Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

What does that mean for most retailers – now is the time to strategize, prepare and execute your marketing plans to end the 2018 selling year, as successful and profitable as possible.

Get the jump on the virtual buying holidays – Organize for the buying season

Review your website – check and test your order and return systems
Scrutinize your social media advertising including procedures and integration
Audit your product inventory
Check your service calendar
Prepare for seasonal workers Make sure your customer service is up to par

Special promotions work well when everything works together

Is your website visually appealing to mobile users?
Did you verify the check-out is quick and easy?
The marketing email list up to date?
To see what content yields the best ROI, did you test your promotions on various platforms?

Stir up enthusiasm with a taste of what’s to come by creating anticipation

As you already know, day in and day out, your email subscribers are constantly flooded with offers from all types of retailers.  This time of year, however, consumers pay more attention to inbox sales sent directly to them: So, use that as your ticket to their inbox – Personalize – it will lead your customer to that all-important purchase by keeping them engaged with your business.

Engagement works best with a goal in mind

Once you set your email marketing goal its time to create your offer to exemplify it. Your offer can include an incentive to look at your website, make a purchase, or share your email with a friend. Think of using a simple discount e-coupon toward the purchase or a downloadable webinar or a valuable whitepaper, the choice is yours.  Whatever the incentive is make sure it’s audience specific.  You don’t want to offer a webinar about cat care to a dog only lover.

Writing content for your email campaign for a specific audience may require a few renditions of the same offer.  Segment your list by the demographics you select and proceed.

Select a template to use during your entire campaign and plan your mailings.  You might consider sending out an email soon, focusing on Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday.  As these days approach, your email campaigns should elicit excitement and anticipation, with your “Call to Action”.

Your message should be personalized:  Dear Jane, not Dear jane34@gmail

Continue to update your social media to coincide with your emails

Set a marketing Goal: – to Increase your brand awareness that will grow user engagement and increase your sales. Segment by the demographics –  And test, test, test – consider changing up the subject line or graphics and test some more.   Note which email subject (for example) has the highest opens or clickthroughs.  Send your email campaign out early as those shopping day approaches,  with follow-up emails and reminders- and prepare for a fruitful sales experience.

Did You Know, Legitimate Emails Will Be Blocked

Did You Know, Legitimate Emails Will Be Blocked

As an email user, you probably noticed the increase in the amount of SPAM you receive.

As an email marketer, you do not want your messages to be perceived as part of the spam evolution.  ISP’s recognize that SPAM is an ever-growing issue. Therefore, most ISPs in response, have tightened their email systems to block spammy emails from reaching their customers’ mailboxes.  spam

However, the numbers are against us all.

Not only do ISP’s find it impossible to block 100% of incoming SPAM to their mail servers, but they also find it’s virtually impossible to block as much as 50% of Spam from reaching their customers’ inbox.  And what’s worse for email marketers; There are many false positives read by the ISP’s spam filters, which block legitimate emails too.

The email system as we all know it has no real delivery protocol – There is no guarantee that an email sent will be delivered to the intended inbox.  We believe that an email was delivered to the proper recipient when it’s sent unless we receive an “undeliverable” bounce back message.  However, in the real world when a big ISP blocks an email from being delivered they may not return an “undeliverable” message to the sender.  They aren’t under any obligation to do so,  besides,  it may be a matter of economics.

Putting economics aside sometimes you find, as an email marketer or discussion list member, you just can’t send messages to a certain domain, while you can send messages to everyone else.  There’re actually technical nuances that may prevent your email from sending to a certain domain (email address).

The issues can include:

  • Blocked IP Address (the domain is on a SPAM list)
  • Missing SPF record
  • Missing DNS records
  • Misconfigured DNS
  • The ISP filtered your email as SPAM, its MIA.

And as stated not all ISPs send back an “undeliverable” bounce back message. SPAM filtering processes for big ISPs, such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo and so forth, are set up to handle traffic created by billions of email messages.  To cut down on bandwidth and annoyance they try to set up strict spam filtering rules, which includes filtering out good emails too, so what’s an email marketer to do?

  • Ask your ESP (Email Service Provider) for a private IP address.  Most likely you are hosted on a shared IP address, this  will increase your chance of being blacklisted if someone on that IP is earmarked as a spammer.
  • Does your ESP have reverse DNS for their MX records?  I can’t imagine an ESP without reverse DNS, however this does happen. This is a requirement.  found in  RFC 1912, Common DNS Operational and Configuration Errors.
  • Is your SPF record correct?  https://support.dnsimple.com/articles/spf-record/

And then there are the more common email delivery issues.

  • Unknown User – the account is closed, or the name may be misspelled
  • Unknown Host – the hostname (domain) is not correct or doesn’t’ exist.
  • Delay in delivery – the mail server may be down or it may be a setting in your email program,
  • Blocked IP Address – You’re on a Blacklist

There are always Best Practices for all situations. Keep email out of the spam folder and through the spam firewall.

Need help with your email list?  Tell us your issue below,  and we will find you a solution.

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Is It An Email Error to Send an Email to Mike When it’s Pat’s Mailbox?

Is It An Email Error to Send an Email to Mike When it’s Pat’s Mailbox?

Email errors could be funny, or they could be serious.

Imagine, your department is working on their end of the year campaign, the company’s biggest sale of the decade.  With care, photos are placed in the correct colored border to emphasize the offering, the text, after going through many renditions is flawless and the landing page is ready to inspire sales with the perfect call-to-action.  The email will go out today as the sale starts 10/1/18.  The proofreader misread the final copy and the date was mistakenly changed to 01/1/18.

Bad Mistake?  It could be, considering the last email campaign you sent misspelled boot for boob.

mistake

Mistakes

Avoid email errors, because mistakes can be costly   Know what the common errors are:

Broken Links:  Links that bring a visitor to a landing page, form or anywhere, are important or they should not be in your email message. When a link goes nowhere or is broken, more times than not your message will get trashed.   Therefore, make sure your links are:

  • Defined, by color or underlined
  • Lead someone to click on the link, instead of saying, “click here” – consider saying “more can be found at” or “read this”
  • Ranked, with the most  important link at the beginning of your email
  • Designed to engage your reader
  • Included when they are permanent.  These links are the ones that should always be in your messages. i.e. refer a friend, social networks.
  • Matched to your content
  • In the same place in every campaign. Use a template so your readers can find your links easily
  • Used as needed. Do not inundate your readers with too many links
  • Tracked so you know which were the most successful.

Duplicate Duplicate Errors:  Sometimes typos go unnoticed, even with spell checkers on board. so, have more than one set of eyes reading your content from the Subject Line to the footer.  Subject Line typos are particularly bad, misspellings may signal spam to the recipient.  Try to;

  • Use a spell checker and grammar checker, such as Grammarly
  • Read your content out loud
  • Avoid using placeholders in your work: “Lorem Ipsum” is really meaningless to the reader

Stale Information:  For example an incorrect date will cause subscriber confusion, they may be unsubscribed because they are annoyed that the sale date has passed.

Unacceptable Personalization:  Personalized emails work.  With care using the right syntax, turn your greetings from Dear “First Name” to Dear Pat, which is a proven way to increase open rates.  If you are diligent with your profile pages you can avoid sending:

  • Dog Food coupons when they don’t have a dog
  • Men swimwear discounts when the subscriber signed up for Women’s’ fashion
  • An email to Mike when it’s Pat’s mailbox
  • A timely email for an event, such as a Birthday with no special offer.

Cannot reply to a no-reply address: Include a “comment here” at the end of your email message.  The subscriber might have something important to tell you and a no-reply address does not give them a warm fuzzy feeling.

Most of these common errors can be avoided if you employ a routine when developing and sending out an email campaign.  Look for issues, such as missing fields in your information list and other discrepancies. Always have a plan-  if the user didn’t give you their first name, and you are sending personalized email, insert another term for the name field: Dear Customer.  Test your messages, read them before you mail, verify the links and review the message on all devices before you hit that send button. .

I am sorry sign

I’m sorry sign

Realize that sometimes mistakes happen no matter what precautions are set in place.  If you find yourself in this position, first evaluate the situation to determine what happened.  Notate when, why, who and how your company or organization was effected.  If the error was small and would not impact the business or customers, no recourse is necessary except taking measures that it will not happen again.

If, on the other hand, the email error can cause harm to your customers and prospects or it has a negative impact on your company, a follow-up email is necessary.  For example, the link to the sale was broken, apologize and send a working one.  Respond to your list members as soon as the mistake is realized, tell them the previous email was an error.  They will appreciate the apology and you can use this as an opportunity to show them you care.

“Do I Want My ESP To Do Everything so I Always Have Successful Email Campaigns”

“Do I Want My ESP To Do Everything so I Always Have Successful Email Campaigns”

The foundation of successful email campaigns are made with the ESP you partner with.

You depend on your ESP to deliver, both for the email fundamentals you use and the performance you need.

Your ESP, one of the most critical parts of your marketing strategy is also one of the most critical parts of your marketing budget.

trying to do everything

trying to do everything

Just what is the core function of an Email Service Provider – the core functionality of an ESP is to send emails.  If your ESP integrates with other applications to do “everything” most likely you are connected to 3rd party software.  These partnerships have developed between companies to enhance the ESP experience, such as Magento, an e-commerce platform integrated with well know email providers.

Most of us use E-commerce, which seems to be the driving force for system integration.  E-commerce users want their customer to see account details, check what’s in stock, delivery dates, return policies and so forth. They want it convenient for the customer.  They want to receive and give correct information in a secure, safe environment.

Most businesses believe, to make the online shopping experience easier, the customer database should be accessible, right from the web; ideally a simple gateway to all and any customer information.  Not only Information, but mechanizes, that allows programs to capture customers buying habits, sales frequency and referrals, and in turn use this information to send an email when needed.  An integrated system.

For complete customer access using integrated software, databases need to be available to various systems, and each one must be secure.  Trusting that your vendor, such as an ESP that integrated with an e-commerce system, will have the necessary security in place, is risk businesses are taking.

E-commerce customer can be your email customers without integration:  the e-commerce software updates when needed and the ESP takes care of their own security.

  Easy, safe and secure without integration and just as seamless to the customer – and you are less vulnerable to breaches.

Software hackers normally attack the weakest point in your software. Vulnerabilities can hide anywhere: careless users, the software itself; networks, ISP’s partners, vendor systems, vendor access and so forth.  When you use an ESP with an integrated system, on their end their IT department probably needed to grow, which adds expenses that trickles down to the user. Security may seem good, but remember, a hacker only needs to get it right once.

Remember these breeches?  Did integrated systems play a part?

If your ESP, is part of an online integrated system, what would you do when something happens along the way – (misconfiguration, exposed passwords, hacker, glitch) that could have a domino effect on your entire business?  And then you have your innocent user, the one who is a victim of phishing email – who inevitability gives away their password, downloads ransomware and sends you a legit email with that attached as part of a comment to an order they placed. How many systems are affected then?

Realizing that not every customer will need every element you offer, using one platform for all services may also increase your licensing per user expense. Those additional costs don’t always translate into a better overall system.  You may find limited email list features, features you may like and use more often are no longer available.

Reduced features are only one of the biggest drawbacks of integrated software.  Integrated software pages are shown to be less powerful when compared to stand alone applications.  And yes they characteristically have fewer features compared to their specialized feature rich counterparts.

Integrated software usually has weak areas: you may have an excellent e-commerce solution but a mediocre list management program.

When integrating different programs and applications, software developers do not tend to specialize in one area. For example, there may be a company working on an upgrade in e-commerce shopping cart, while the other, shopping cart abandonment will be upgraded and tested at a later date.  And then there’s patches and continual security issues that are a concern in the overall product offering.

If you are using an ESP integrated with your favorite e-commerce package ask yourself, how do the cost analysis of functionally compare to using a traditional ESP to manage your email lists and the integrated platform?

As stated, the core functionality of ESPs is to send emails. With every function beyond that, brands have third-party options. And the majority of brands take advantage of supplemental software to improve their email creation process without integration.

Expecting your ESP to deliver all the functionality you need to plan, create, test, send and analyze the performance of your emails is realistic with Dundee Internet.  Expecting your ESP to integrate and work smoothly with your accounting software, e-commerce, ordering system and website, is not.

Trust your ESP and find the one that works for you that does their job well.

Dundee Internet offers exceptional email management tools: not new, they were always there –

Nonprofits, Decrease The Cost of New Recruitment and Grow Your Donor Base

Nonprofits, Decrease The Cost of New Recruitment and Grow Your Donor Base

Donor attrition is a fact of life, donor retention can be a challenge.

Just like any business, it is always costlier to obtain a new customer, or in this case a new donor, than it does to keep one.

The cost of obtaining a donation boxnew interest can really degrade your budget.

It is possible to decrease the cost of new recruitment and grow your donor base with supporter engagement driven by email marketing.

Nonprofits always have a base of loyal enthusiasts.  As you know not all supporters have made monetary donations to your cause.  These people need to be motivated to do so.  When a donor is totally engaged in your cause, this, as stats have shown, moves them to gift.  Engaged supporters who already donate are noted making greater cash contributions more often.  This motivation can be achieved by marketing to your donor base.

Using marketing strategies, such as an email marketing campaign, cost-effective and will boost those donations in no time.  Use what you know about your donors to create an engagement operation that will inspire donations.

  1. Analyze your existing database, categorize them into groups, for example, people who: never donated, donate once a year, donates several times a year.
  2. Consider creative ways to attract new recruitments. Google AdWords is an excellent way to advertise your nonprofit: include a landing page for those interests, to sign up to your mailing list.  Apply for the Google AdWords grant which will allow you to run your ads at a steep discount. https://www.google.com/grants/
  3. Review your donor base, keep it fresh. If you send to stale addresses you may be marked as a SPAMMER.
  4. With Profile Pages, you can build email campaigns that target your audience, using specific demographics. Are they female, male, older, younger, pet owners, homeowners…
  5. Make sure you include a CTA (call-to-action) in your email campaign. Don’t cover too much material at once, keep it simple and to the point.
  6. Incorporate parts of your blog post into your mailings. Offer just enough to whet their appetite so they will click on the link to read the rest of your blog.  Make sure you place a donate button on that page too.

There are always several email tools available to personalize your messages.  Use conditional content, triggered messages: and test before you send to get a sense of what produces the best opens. (Dundee offers all these and so much more!)

Donor retention is challenging, donor engagement does not need to be.  Listen to what your followers are saying.  They don’t understand how difficult and time consuming it is for the average nonprofit to raise money. They want results; show them results in what you say with email marketing along with available social networks.