1 Getting Your Delivered Beware: If you send out spam mail (unsolicited s), whether it be knowingly or not, you will put your business and your reputation at risk. Consequences for spamming have grown into more than a simple slap on the wrist from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or just getting some angry s from annoyed recipients. Being labeled as a spammer will drive your customers way, ruin your business, and can even get you a big fine or a jail sentence! In order to help people deal with the increasing volume of spam that clogs their inboxes every day (and to help protect themselves in terms of reduced customer satisfaction and lost revenues), most ISPs and free Web-based services filter all incoming s for spam by blocking messages that include specific combinations of words or phrases. In addition, they work closely with anti-spam organizations to block out all messages from domains and IP addresses of known spammers. They also have extensive algorithms designed to determine what is spam and what isn t. All of this means that you can be labeled as a spammer even if you ve just made an honest mistake. Your s could end up being filtered and never even reach your subscribers. It s hard to put an exact number on this, but say 20% of your list of 2,000 subscribers gets filtered like this. That means 400 people won t get your message. If you operate with a clickthrough rate of 10%, then that s 40 potential sales that you ve lost. You can t afford that! That means you can t afford to make mistakes. If your s are blocked, it can take weeks or months to fix the problem. In some cases, if you really make a mistake, you might never be able to send s from a specific domain or IP address again. Take a minute to think about how much that can damage your business. You will waste a lot of time trying to fix the problems. You ll lose important promotional opportunities
2 with the people on your opt-in list. You will damage your credibility and relationships with your subscribers. And that s not to mention the costs and hassles involved with setting up a new domain and IP address. You might even get into some legal trouble if you send out s that don t conform to certain rules. Because of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2004, there are laws in place to prosecute spammers. These laws lay down specific guidelines you need to adhere to if you are going to use as a marketing tool. We will talk more about the CAN-SPAM Act later in this lesson. You need to learn the tricks to creating s that your customers will be able to recognize as coming from a reliable source and that won t be filtered or deleted as possible spam. In order to create such s, you need to really understand the difference between an opt-in and spam before we go any further. What is opt-in ? The biggest difference between spamming and marketing is that opt-in is only sent to people who have given you their permission to contact them. They have opted in to your list by checking the form on your website that says something like, Yes, please send me regular updates about your products. Opt-in is also referred to as permission-based marketing. The important thing to remember about opt-in is that it is a legitimate way to build on existing relationships with your subscribers, customers, affiliates, business contacts, and sales leads. Opt-in marketing is easily trackable, cheap, and very effective. The reason behind its effectiveness is that you are only sending your promotions to people you already have a relationship with. The people on your list are only there because they want to be, whether they be customers or subscribers. Someone who has not directly requested information from your company through an opt-in form, or who has not purchased a product from you, should not be on your opt-in list.
3 For example, someone who signed up for your newsletter on puppy training would be a targeted potential customer who you know is interested in puppy training.. If you were to send them promotional offers for weight loss products, however, then you are veering away from the relationship that you ve established with them. Even though this person is on your opt-in list, weight loss product offers would be considered spam. Put your effort into sending relevant information to the people who are interested in your products and services instead. Why opt-in s are different from spam. Spam is: a) Unwanted sent by a person or company with whom the recipient has had no prior contact; or b) Unwanted sent to someone who has requested to be removed from the senders mailing list; or c) An offer that is unrelated to what the recipient expects from the sender. In some cases, spam is in the eye of the beholder. For example, two people might sign up for your newsletter on the same day. When they get their first from you, though, they might have completely opposite reactions to it. One person might remember signing up and open the while the other person might have forgotten that they signed up and delete it (or worse, report it as spam). This is why you need to make sure that you follow the guidelines described in this lesson. If the second scenario does happen to you, you ll have your bases covered. If you have been online for any length of time, you ve probably experienced spam firsthand. You know exactly how annoying and offensive it can be. You probably get s like the one below all too often: From: Sandra Goroxx Subject: read a letter it s urgent!!! Key stockkk factors analized by professional expercts This stock I Going to Explode!!!
4 Check ot hot tips THYPW.PK Don;t forget to buy and earn on this stock An unlikely name, nonsensical subject line and copy, no personalization, the sender has a Hotmail address, no unsubscribe links, and poor spelling and grammar this message is definitely spam! Most readers will delete a message like this right away. We re not telling you to avoid the profitable world of legitimate marketing, but you do need to know how to not send spam. Here are seven common spam identifiers that you should be aware of before you start ing your list Is your spam? 1. Your is spam if it is sent to people you have no relationship with. 2. Your is spam if your offer is fraudulent or promotes fraudulent activities. 3. Your is spam if it uses a deceptive subject line to trick people into opening it. 4. Your is spam if you use a fake or nonexistent From address or name. 5. Your is spam if you forget the headers in your message so that it looks like it came from someone else. 6. Your is spam if you don t include an obvious and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe from your list. 7. Your is spam if it doesn t include a valid postal address. Your potential customers can tell the difference between spam and a legitimate opt-in . Marketing Sherpa reports that more than 90% of Internet users consider the following phrases to best define spam: Intends to trick me into opening it, From unknown senders, and Offensive subject matter.
5 Legitimate marketing can be a very powerful marketing tool, but spam is a bad idea in any situation. Your account can be shut down by your ISP if you are a spammer. You can even get fined or spend time in jail! Anti-spam measures can save your business. Spam is no small problem, and as such businesses and consumers alike are spending more money on anti-spam and filtering software for desktop applications (like Microsoft Outlook. According to a Pew Internet report in 2007, 71% of users use spam filters. Most consumers also use the spam-filtering features offered by more software, such as bulk folders and junk boxes. Besides that, there are also organizations in place now who are dedicated solely to stopping spam. There are traps and organizations in place today designed to catch spam messages before they get to people s inboxes. These include: Anti-spam groups like SpamCop, Spam traps, Anti-spam software, service providers anti-spam filters and defenses, and Users reporting s as spam. You need to know about these anti-spam methods so that you don t run afoul of them. As far as anti-spam groups, you need to understand why they take their job so seriously because if you end up on their bad side, your can be blocked by all providers, including Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and AOL. Don t Get Blacklisted! A blacklist is a list of known or suspected spammers that is maintained by a spamfighting organization like SpamCop. You want to keep your name off of these lists at all costs!
6 Most of these lists are based on reports of spam from recipients. They tend to operate on a guilty until proven innocent principle, so if you get onto one of these lists you might have to engage in a serious (and public) defense of your mailing practices in order to clear your name. The major ISPs and services use blacklists created by anti-spam groups to block whole groups of IP addresses from getting through their servers. If you are on a blacklist, it s safe to say that most of your messages won t make it to your subscribers inboxes because they will be filtered out as spam. This might sound extreme to you, but try looking at the situation through the eyes of an provider. All of those spam messages use a ton of bandwidth, which costs the provider money. Hotmail, for example, reports that 3.6 billion of the 4 billion messages they receive every day are spam! In addition, as service providers customers get more and more spam each day they start to complain and eventually leave. For these reasons, most of the large online services have their own anti-spam measures. The latest versions of Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and AOL include some kind of spam filtering or reporting features and these features get used a lot! To you, this means that you need to make sure that your subscribers know who you are, what your relationship is to them, and why they are getting from you. You can t just assume that your readers know who you are, because if they don t, you ll end up facing spam accusations no matter how legit your list might be. Don t violate the CAN-SPAM Act and other anti-spam legislation. While it might make your life more difficult, being banned by Gmail or Hotmail isn t the worst thing that can happen to a spammer. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, spammers can also be prosecuted and if found guilty, they can be fined and even jailed! This Act is designed to combat spam. It contains specific requirements that all companies who send out commercial s must meet. We detail these requirements in the next section. It is critical that you familiarize yourself with them.
7 Ever since the CAN-SPAM Act went into effect on January 1, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported a number of settlements in which people have been successfully prosecuted and fined for sending out spam s. Defendants in these cases all violated CAN-SPAM rules by using false headers and subject lines, failing to include clear unsubscribe links and instructions, failing to provide the sender s physical address, and/or sending out misleading messages and offers. The FTC defines commercial as an message that contains commercial content such as advertisements of promotions of products and services. You are sending commercial if you are marketing your product or service by . Also, if an contains transactional or relationship content (like a thank-you message for an order, or an to a customer regarding their account) PLUS commercial content, that can still be defined as commercial and is thus still subject to CAN-SPAM guidelines (if the commercial content is more prominent that the other content). In addition, as far as the FTC is concerned, if an just looks commercial, then it is commercial. On the other hand, s that only contain transactional or relationship content are not considered commercial by the FTC. You can access the full text of the CAN-SPAM Act here: Also, as of December of 2006, there is another federal anti-spam law, the SAFEWEB Act. Officially titled the Undertaking Spam, Spyware and Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers Beyond Borders Act, this law extends the CAN-SPAM Act and gives the FTC more authority to fight spam, spyware, and consumer fraud that originates offshore. Basically, SAFEWEB lets law enforcement officers share information and prosecute spammers that began working from outside of the US after the CAN-SPAM Act went into effect.
9 5. Be careful if you use rented lists. You should always ask to see the form that a provider uses to collect addresses for a rental list so that you can be sure that the people on your list will really be interested in what you will be promoting to them. You also need to make sure that the people on the list actually gave their permission to the list broker to sell or rent their address. 6. Use a real return address that has enough storage space to receive your bounce backs and opt-outs. If you use a free account, be sure there is enough room in your account before you send out a mailing. While you should be instructing people to unsubscribe to your list by clicking on a link or sending an to a specific address, you also need to honor any remove requests that get sent to your return address. In addition, it 9 might be tempting, but never reply to angry messages you get from people who are accusing you of sending them spam. Just remove these people from your list and be glad that they re gone. 7. Give clear and easy instructions on how to be removed from your list. If you don t, your message will be flagged as spam, there s no way around it. For example, you can use the following text to tell people how to opt out of your list: If you have received this message in error or with to no longer receive from us, please visit the URL below to unsubscribe. You will automatically be excluded from any future mailings. If you would prefer to unsubscribe via postal mail, contact us at: [mailing address] Please include the address we have contacted you at so we can complete your request promptly.
10 8. Give a valid physical postal address of the sender. Your promotional s need to include a valid street address, not a P.O. Box or mail drop. 9. Use a real from address. Your from line needs to be accurate and valid, not false or misleading. You can use the name of your business or your own name if it is identifiable with your business, for instance. Your address also needs to be clear enough that your subscribers will recognize you, since some ISPs don t show the from name when people use web mail (web mail is that is accessed from a web browser). This practice will also help to build your brand. 10. Use a genuine, non-misleading subject line. Your subject line also needs to be valid and not misleading. For example, if you promise a 15% discount in your subject line, that offer had better be included in your message. We will talk more about writing subject lines in Lesson 44. If you follow these ten rules you can increase your delivery rate and avoid being accused of spamming. Over the next few sections, we will discuss some more advanced strategies that will take some time on effort on your part but which can give you the competitive edge of the major senders. Test Before You Start Mailing The best thing you can do when it comes to ensuring that your s are being delivered to the four major providers is to create a good test list. You should create your own accounts with Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail and then before you send out any mailings you should send a test mailing first and make sure you received your in each of your four inboxes. If you didn t get the message at one of these accounts, then chances are other people with that service probably won t either.
11 If your message doesn t get delivered to one of these accounts, examine the before you send it out to your real list to try and figure out what the problem is. Do not just send out your s anyway because chances are a lot of people won t get it since it s being blocked as spam. You will only hurt your reputation with the service provider if you send out an that you already know they view as spam. Try tweaking your message to remove words you think might be causing the problem. You can also try a different subject line. Read through the postmaster guidelines to see if they can tell you what the problem is. If you can t figure out why your messages are being classified as spam, do not send them out. If circumstances dictate that you have to send out the s, for example because of a deadline on a promotion, then at least remove the addresses from the provider you can t get the through to. You can at least avoid getting on the wrong side of the provider for an that your subscribers probably won t see anyway. Summing up. Opt-in marketing is easily trackable, inexpensive, and very effective. The reason it is so effective of a marketing tool is that you send s to a highly targeted group of people who actually want to hear from you. On the other hand, spam will anger and alienate your potential customers. It makes them resentful of you. And, if they report you, you can end up getting into a lot of trouble. Sending spam is just bad business, plain and simple. Even legitimate s can be trapped in the web of anti-spam measures, though. Countless marketers have experienced mysterious bounce backs or sent out s that never made it to their intended recipients. Some have even been blocked. Following even the most basic strategies talked about in this lesson will put you a step ahead of your competition. If you move beyond the basics, though, you will gain an unbeatable advantage.
12 Here are some basic steps you can take to improve your delivery rates: Make sure your opt-in list only contains your own customers and subscribers. Provide clear instructions about how to unsubscribe from your list in every that you send out. Handle removal requests quickly (at least before each mailing). Read through your content looking for trigger words that can get your flagged as spam. Take advantage of free postmaster services and delivery advice offered by each of the big providers. Use an effective test list. If you are accused of spamming, respond to each complaint quickly and politely. This will help resolve the issue more effectively than arguing with people about why they are wrong.