Marketing Do s and Don ts A Sprint Mail Whitepaper

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1 Marketing Do s and Don ts A Sprint Mail Whitepaper

2 Table of Contents: Part One Marketing Dos and Don ts The Right Way of Marketing The Wrong Way of Marketing Outlook s limitations Part Two Understanding Spam What is Spam? UK Anti Spam Law 2003 The Spam Process o Bayesian Filtering o Black Lists o Firewalls o Challenge/Response Filters Avoiding the Spam Filters How can I tell if my s were spam filtered? How can I tell if my s were spam filtered? Part One Marketing Dos and Don ts If you are new to marketing it s now important to read this info-booklet to ensure that you are getting the most out of your data and are using it in the correct way. It can be a bit of a minefield out there and there are many pitfalls that even the experienced marketer can fall into if he/she doesn t work with care and diligence. The Right Way of Marketing We believe there are really only two ways to safely market: Approach What You Do Pros Cons The DIY Approach Obtain a piece of bulk mailing software that takes care of the sending of your s in multipart format (HTML and Plain Text) and send out in bulk using your own dedicated sending server with it s own static ISP. 1) Enables you to send thousands of s an hour. 2) Free to do (except the rental/purchase cost of your dedicated server). Con: You ll still be sending from your own IP address and run a high risk of being blacklisted by ISP. The Professional Approach Using an internet based marketing company to do it for you (these are good because many offer WYSIWYG HTML creators, tracking etc.) 1) Enables you to send thousands of s an hour. 2) Your messages won t break. 3) They help you comply with good marketing practices. 4) They send s individually to each recipient and give you the opportunity to personalise each . 5) Better delivery rates- many have established relationships with the major ISP and anti-spam organisations ensuring your message is not blacklisted. 6) They offer clever reporting statistics for your campaign Some provide built in spam filter checkers 1) It s more expensive than the DIY approach

3 The Wrong Way of Marketing Sadly many people think marketing is as simple as copying in a contact list writing a message, hitting send and making millions from the sales generated by that campaign. It isn t! Many small businesses tend to start their marketing lives sending to small lists of clients/customers from their Outlook account or their normal client (sometimes with attachments). This is ok if you re sending to 50-ish people once a month but if you are serious about getting results from your marketing campaigns then using Outlook as a sending platform needs to go out the window, now! Outlook is simply not built for marketing (nor is Yahoo, Gmail etc.) One of the main problems that occur is that HTML newsletters break when someone without Outlook views them. By break we mean will not look the same/may have missing content/may not display pictures etc. Outlook s Limitations You can t send too many s from your own computer (your ISP will think you re a spammer and possibly block you). Most ISPs have built in quota limits that you can t surpass (if you attempt to send too many messages you ll get a message saying you ve reached your quota of sent message that day/hour (usually maximum of 500 per hour and 1000 per day). If they notice that you re regularly doing this they may shut you down. Sending too many large attachments will annoy your ISP and eat up your bandwidth (essentially the connection between you and your ISP that you pay for). Worst case scenario they ll shut you down. firewalls and ISPs don t like receiving too many s from one single IP address so you really need to throttle your delivery or ideally spread it across several IPs in the way an Marketing Company would do. (This is how we work at Sprint Mail). If you connect through your desktop you ll probably be connecting through your local ISP which will be a dynamic ISP. Unless you ve got a dedicated IP address set up with your ISP you ll be in trouble because ISPs and spam filters don t like receiving messages from dynamic IP addresses and will see you as spam. One common misconception with Outlook Users is that they can get around this sending volume problem by simply CC-ing people into a message. Be warned, if you do you ll face a whole new set of problems. It only takes one person to hit reply and then everyone on that list is ed and everything goes wrong! Part Two Understanding Spam What Is Spam? Spam exists that is a fact. In order that your marketing campaigns don t get flagged up by ISPs and Spam Filters you need to understand it. In the UK spam is classed as mail that you send to an unsolicited to a whole list of people (consumers) you can legally send to unsolicited lists of business/corporations as long as you include a clear unsubscribe option in your mail.

4 UK Anti Spam Law 2003 Revised UK regulations will mean online marketers can send pitches and SMS messages only to consumers who have agreed beforehand to receive them, except where users are existing customers of a particular company. So, for consumers at least, the UK government is applying the 'opt-in' approach to regulating spam. Corporations can still be approached 'cold' with pitches but in these instances s must have an opt-out clause. The Office of the Information Commissioner will enforce the new regulations. Any breaches of enforcement orders issued by the Information Commissioner will be an offence liable to a fine of up to 5,000 in a magistrate's court, or an unlimited fine if the trial is before a jury. The Spam Process Bayesian Filtering This is a very important type of spam filter to know about as it s not used so widely and installed in so many applications these days (Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail). Bayesian filters work by noting when users classify as junk (for example when they click a this is spam button). It reads the junk mail and then compares it with other s the recipient called junk, and looks for common traits in the subject line, the content, the hyperlinks, the sender, etc. Over time, Bayesian filters adapt and learn to find these traits in every message the recipient receives. Every time they find something that looks like spam they assign a measurable score to it. For example, using Free! might get you 0.7 points. Using colourful fonts may get you 1.5 points. Once an exceeds a threshold (set by the recipient), the is classified as spam, and thrown into the junk folder. Black Lists Many servers have started to track the IP addresses of the servers that sent them spam, and put them on blacklists. Every time they received from a server on their blacklist, it is deleted immediately. Servers also share their lists with other servers on the web and other servers add on to those blacklists. Web wide blacklists now exist with large ISPs syncing up with them. If you send that s very spammy you could end up on one of these blacklists and unfortunately once you make it on to a blacklist it s very difficult getting off. Firewalls Managing servers (and incoming spam, viruses, and phishing attacks) is a lot of work. Most large corporations these days install firewalls which handle their incoming . These can be described as the spam filter on top of a spam filters and they are very powerful and effective at stopping anything that looks even remotely spammy getting as far as the front door. Firewalls use a combination of Bayesian-style/adaptive filters, community reporting and blackhole lists to keep spam out. Most of the time, when your s not getting through to a larger company, it s their firewall stopping it. Firewalls will ask the questions: Is this sender new to me? Why is he sending copies of the same, exact , to a bunch of people in our company? How long has their server been around? Can I really trust this sender? You ll probably experience some deliverability issues in the beginning, because you re new. But they ll eventually learn to let you through. To speed things up, you may have to ask the IT people in charge of the firewall to white list your IP Addresses (or the IP address of your service provider). Challenge/Response Filters These are more common among at-home recipients. Sometimes when you send to someone with a challenge/response filter, they require you to prove that you are not spam. The filter sends you an automatic reply with a question that you have to answer, or some link you have to click (this is to prove you re a human, and not a spambot).

5 Diagram Showing Levels of Spam Filtering Recipients Inbox Challenge Response Bayesian Filtering ISP Blacklisting Firewalls Avoiding the Spam Filters Sadly it s a fact of life that evil spammers are out there and spoil things for the rest of us. This has led to the development of incredibly fussy spam filters being implemented all over the place. Even worse, you don t have to even be a spammer to be spam-filtered. These days it s almost considered a science in how to avoid being caught in a spam filter or simply not even being delivered but unfortunately there is no simple quick answer, you have to understand spam filters to avoid them. How can I tell if my s were spam filtered? The first thing to do is look at your open rate (you can purchase tracking software that can do this for you or alternatively your service provider will organise this for you. If it suddenly dropped from your average, you probably have a spam filter problem. If you're new to marketing, 20% is a rough open rate average. An abnormally high bounce rate is another indicator. Look through your hard bounces, and read the SMTP replies. Some may say Denied by Firewall or Spam Filter. This is the most common reason a "valid" address hard bounces and is when a spam filter somewhere blocked the . You'll see something in the SMTP reply like, "Denied" or "Unacceptable Content" or "Blocked". Remember, spam filters can be on the recipient's computer, on his company's firewall, or at their ISP or all of them at once! Another reason could be that some corporate spam filters and firewalls don't like seeing a big group of the exact same s being sent to multiple recipients as it looks like spam. Sometimes corporate firewalls can be really strict. They'll block or "blacklist" an server for all kinds of reasons. Luckily sometimes, the block is temporary. Like if they just feel that too much is coming from one server too fast. Sometimes, the block is permanent, and the only way to get around them is to kindly ask the IT group in charge to white list your

6 ISP. If a major ISP (like AOL, or MSN/Hotmail, or Yahoo! or SpamCop) is blocking your s, this is actually not too bad. The major ISPs usually block s temporarily, and delist servers within a day or two (when spam complaints subside). Bounced A bounce or bounce back is an that is returned to the sender because it cannot be delivered for some reason. Too many bounce backs can cause your mail to be blocked with certain ISPs. The Two Types of Bounce: 1) Hard bounces are returned when either the recipients address (the bit before sign) is not valid or because the domain name (the bit after sign) doesn t exist, e.g. or 2) Soft bounces occur when an gets as far as the recipient s mail server but bounced back before it reached the recipient. This usually happens when the recipient s inbox is full.

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