Tags: Spam

How to Overcome Email List Fatigue

Beyond • September 12, 2009

Email list fatigue has become a real topic of debate among email marketers. Some customers may not receive your emails because of spam filters. Some do receive your emails but do not open them because their mail account is inactive. But what about those people who don’t read your emails anymore because they are no longer interested? Such customers do not wish to break all ties with you; however there is a definite drop in their interest level. This phenomenon is called ‘email list fatigue.’ Though it is not possible to avoid this issue, there are ways to counter its impact. So, how does one deal with email list fatigue? For a start, try to identify your inactive customers within a certain time period, a year for instance. This period is sufficient to gauge the amount of interest your clients have shown in your emails. The number of emails sent during this period depends on your emailing frequency. Let’s assume you send one email in a month; this means you would have sent out a total of 12 emails in a year. Now, take a look at your customer data. Consider those addresses which have received all 12 emails. From these addresses, find the number of users who have opened your emails and clicked on links. The customers who haven’t received or opened your emails are inactive customers. The point of identifying such customers is not to remove them from your list but to try and reactivate them. Take a look at some techniques that you can employ to reactivate inactive customers and counter email list fatigue. 1. Supply them with fresh content Fresh and high quality content is a must when you seek to rekindle interest among disinterested customers. Put yourself in their shoes and come up with ways to evoke interest among them once again. 2. Limit the number of sales pitches It is acceptable to make subtle sales pitches with great content, once in a while. However, avoid making sales pitches on a frequent basis. An overdose of sales pitches will result in killing your customers’ interest in your emails. 3. Follow a frequency schedule If you send more than one email per month, there is a possibility that your customers may feel overwhelmed. The best thing to do is send emails when you have something worth communicating. Make sure you send a newsletter at least once every month. If you fail to do so, your clients may forget that they had subscribed to your emails. 4. Use the same name and address in the \'from\' field: Your clients will look the name and address in the ‘from’ field and decide if they want to read your email or even open it. They will not open the email, if they do not know the sender. So, avoid changing the details in the ‘from’ field. If you must change it, then inform your clients accordingly. 5. Make the subject line creative Your subject line is the deciding factor when it comes to the opening or deletion of your emails. For this reason you need to create a subject line that will capture the imagination of your customers. If you can’t come up with a creative line, consider hiring a professional to create it for you. 6. Let customers unsubscribe if they want to Let customers unsubscribe from your campaign, whenever they want to. For this reason, you should provide an unsubscribe link in all your emails. There’s no point in keeping disinterested customers on your list. 7. Give customers special offers from time to time Give your customers new and special offers at regular intervals. You may offer them a discount on products and services or even a free trial. For instance, if you have a book store, you can give your customers a discount on the latest releases or bestsellers. 8. Keep taking new subscriptions Regardless of how active your list is, don’t stop the inflow of new subscriptions. This is because peoples’ interests change very swiftly. New subscriptions will ensure that your list doesn’t become dysfunctional due to a lack of interest on the part of your subscribers. 9. Change the day and time of sending If you haven’t had much luck by sending emails on a particular day and time, change both of them. It may or may not work but it’s worth a shot. 10. Change the format You can also alter the format of your emails. If you have been sending your emails in HTML format, and they don’t seem to be doing the trick, you can consider using the text format for a change. Of course, the content and links you provide need to be a lot more specialized. 11. Keep track of the emails Create a separate list for the most important domains. Keep a track of how your emails have been faring in all those domains. If they are unable to make it past spam filters, try to develop other versions, which will get past spam filters. 12. Send your clients postcards You can request clients to revise what they want in the emails. In return, you can send your clients postcards offering them something valuable. 13. Understand the needs of your subscribers It is possible that all inactive clients may have something in common. They could all be women or senior citizens. If that’s the case, try and identify their needs or preferences. For instance, if you publish a newsletter on fitness for males, you could include content for females and categorize it into different age groups so that none of your subscribers feel left out. 14. Form joint ventures cautiously Form joint ventures only with those companies whose clients are interested in what you offer. If you form joint ventures with companies whose clients have no interest in your offerings you will just end up with a new batch of inactive customers. It’s not possible to completely avoid the issue of email list fatigue but the techniques listed above should help you deal with its effects. Once your customers start responding to your emails, add their addresses to the list of active customers. In doing so, you will know for sure how many of them are yet to become active again. So, give these tips a try to combat email list fatigue! Good luck!


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Email Marketing: Avoid Sending to an Old Email List

Email Marketing: Avoid Sending to an Old Email List

Beyond • August 28, 2009

It is very common for companies to slowly and steadily gather email addresses on their websites from the very first day. The problem here is they are so busy collecting these addresses that they fail to use them. The reasons for not contacting those email addresses immediately could range from companies not knowing how to send marketing messages to not having the time to contact their addresses. Whatever the reason, these companies tend to hold on to their collection and do nothing - till one fine day, a year or more later. At some point in the future these companies suddenly wake up and decide to inaugurate their massive collection of addresses, compiled lovingly through the years. Unfortunately, when they start emailing their list they do not get back very loving replies. Why? Because the email addresses, and the permission that was given with them, has an expiry period. After holding on to addresses for more than 12 months and doing nothing, you no longer have the right to send these addresses your campaign newsletters. If you do suddenly blast them with newsletters – you are heading for some serious trouble. Take a look at some of the trouble you are headed for: You will get accused of sending spam Your customers visited your store, bought something and left. Some of them signed up to your email list. Now 12 months later you set up a brilliant email marketing system and send them sudden and frequent newsletters. Will they be happy to receive your numerous newsletters? Would they remember ever visiting your store? The answer to both is No. The recipients of your newsletters would in all likelihood wonder who you are and how you got their email address, and then complain that you are sending them spam. This is also the right path to getting blacklisted. Your mails will rapidly bounce back When you send newsletters to email addresses that are more than 12 months old you will notice that a lot of your mails come bouncing back. There are a lot of reasons for this: The email address may no longer exist: When this happens you should remove the address from your list. Unfortunately, if too many messages bounce you may not have the time to rectify your list as your Internet service provider may think you are sending spam and take action. To remain above the blacklist radar you need to ensure that you do not exceed a bounce rate of 10%. The address has been redirected: This could happen when a person switches jobs, or when an account is cancelled. In either case, there is a good chance that someone new will receive your newsletter. This new person has no idea that the person the newsletter was intended for had subscribed to it; this person will therefore complain that the newsletter is spam. The address has become a spam trap: Addresses that are very old are sometimes turned into spam traps. These are dangerous as sending marketing mails to these addresses have a huge adverse affect on deliverability and result in making your email service provider quite irritated. You may get blacklisted After being accused of sending spam and having your emails bounce back you now discover that you have been blacklisted by all the big Internet service providers (ISPs). This is due to a combination of people forgetting that they had signed up for your newsletter, people changing their email addresses and you walking into spam traps. Most of these issues may not be your fault, but the end result is that your mails have been bouncing and people have been making spam complaints. To your ISPs, you are using a list that is old, dirty or has been bought. This leads to your ISPs blocking you which in turn leads to your email service provider shutting down your account. So the basic fact is, if you want to save yourself the head ache of going through all these issues, make sure you clean your list regularly and remove all old and outdated email addresses. If you must use email addresses that are older than 12 months, make sure you re-introduce yourself and remind the recipient how you got their email address. You can also ask them to either sign up again, or you can ask them to use the unsubscribe link in your very first mail, if they are no longer interested. This helps getting rid of those addresses that can cause you problems later on.


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How to Reduce Spam Complaints?

How to Reduce Spam Complaints?

Beyond • June 16, 2009

One of the keys to success in e-mail marketing is to reduce the number of spam complaints that you receive. Spam complaints can hurt your standing with your ISP or hosting provider, and even prevent your messages from being delivered to millions of users of popular web e-mail providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. In spite of these potentially very significant consequences, many businesses that rely on e-mail marketing as a major part of their advertising efforts fail to understand the steps that you can take to prevent spam complaints from being submitted. The following tips will help you reduce your spam complaints: Confirmed opt-in: The best way to ensure that your subscribers want to receive mailings from you is by using a confirmed opt-in process. It requires your subscribers to confirm their subscription by replying to an e-mail before they can be added to your e-mail list. Your list only: It is no longer acceptable to purchase e-mail lists or use third-party lists. You should remove any e-mail addresses obtained from third party sources. Practice good list hygiene: Don’t get in love with your list. The quantity of email addresses in your list means little; it is the quality that counts. As a general rule, the older your list (or addresses in your list) the greater the chance that they may not be any longer interested in receiving mails from you. That said, there are no specific rules as all businesses are different. Some businesses will know that some of their best customers are their oldest customers, so the culling of all e-mail addresses obtained before a specific date may not be suitable for those businesses. Include the Unsubscribe Link: The first and most important step you can take is to include an unsubscribe link in every message. Beyond this, the unsubscribe link should be two things: obvious and painless. Customers who want your emails will ignore the link, and those who don\'t will find it easy to unsubscribe from your list, rather than hastily clicking the email as spam. Evaluate your Subject Line: Ensure that - especially when starting out - your company name is included in the subject line. You may be thinking that is not necessary, since your company name will more than likely show in the \"from\" field, however, this helps to convey professionalism. Be sure that the message in your subject line is actually conveyed in the email. No one likes to be duped, and doing so raises the chances of your e-mail being marked as spam. Familiar layout: Using a consistent e-mail template with the same colors, fonts and layout will help your subscribers to recognize your e-mail campaigns. Over time your subscribers will recognize your layout and with that familiarity they will be reminded that they have subscribed to your list. Familiar and consistent company name: Confusion and complaints can originate from subscribers being unfamiliar with your company or brand name. Consistent from address: Using a consistent ‘from’ e-mail address serves two purposes. First, using the same ‘from’ address over time is another way to ensure that your subscribers recognise your e-mails. It is best to use a from e-mail address that includes your brand or the company name that they subscribed to. Second, if different ‘from’ addresses are used it increases the chances that the subscriber’s local e-mail filter programs (spam filters) will block your e-mails. It is a good idea to ask your subscribers to add your e-mail address to their address book to ensure that your messages will get past any local filters. Frequency: A common complaint trigger is businesses sending too many e-mails to the same group of people. While a subscriber may like your products and your business, there becomes a point when your mailings become annoying when sent too often, particularly if you are sending essentially the same message over and over again. The frequency of mail-outs will depend on your business and the type of information you provide to your subscribers. By outlining the anticipated frequency in your sign-up subscription terms, your subscribers will know how often to expect your mailings. Few other tips: - do not write long email copy - go for “short and crisp”, then point to your website for more information; - don’t repeat your website URL over and over again — you are more likely to get more complaints than more sales; once or twice is usually enough; - run a spam-check on your messages before you send them out and fix any problems that it detects.


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Image-Only HTML Emails Getting Blocked

Image-Only HTML Emails Getting Blocked

Beyond • June 13, 2009

Do you think one image will convey your message more effectively than 50 words? Well, certainly not, at least as far as email marketing is concerned because your email message containing only an image might be categorized as spam by leading search engines. So, what\'s the key to this little scenario? Balance. You need to balance out every single email. Instead of featuring a large image and a small amount of text in your email or newsletter, give each element adequte proportion. A large image in your emails, with an equal amount of text, will work. But never let your images dominate your email as doing so will bring you bounce rates like you would not believe.


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Understanding Email Authentication

Understanding Email Authentication

Beyond • June 8, 2009

Today ISP\'s are seriously working to rid their networks of spam. Email authentication can help these ISP\'s to validate that the email is originating from a legitimate source and the recipient can validate the mail source. So if an email message appears to come from one domain, while actually it is delivered from another, the recipient can verify if the mail source is valid based on additional header information passed in the email. This is a great technique to prevent spoofing and phishing scams. ISP\'s uses different techniques to authenticate the incoming emails, and the three major standards prevailing are Sender ID Sender ID is a Microsoft protocol which validates one of the email\'s header fields. It retrieves the Purported Responsible Address (PRA) for the email and then validates that address against the sender. It is used by Hotmail and Windows Live Mail. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) SPF authenticates the envelope HELO and MAIL FROM identities by comparing the sending mail server\'s IP address to the list of authorized sending IP addresses published by the sender domain\'s owner in a \"v=spf1\" DNS record. It is used by AOL, Google, Earthlink, Hotmail, and many other providers. DomainKeys DomainKeys uses cryptographic authentication to validate the domain name that is associated with the message. What are the benefits of email authentication? All major ISP’s like Hotmail, Gmail , AOL, Yahoo! and use email authentication to filter out suspected spam emails. By setting up Email Authentication, you can enable these ISP’s to verify that your campaign are from a “legitimate” source, and being delivered to your target’s inbox, instead of being flagged as spam. For example, here\'s an authenticated and non-authenticated email in Hotmail: What email header difference will my contacts see if I use Benchmark Email Authentication? Benchmark Email includes the Sender ID if you have enabled the Email Authentication. This information is part of the email header. Outlook, Hotmail, and MSN webmail clients would display these headers to the recipients. Email Clients displaying only From Name (friendly name) From: ABC Sales These includes Outlook Exprees, AOL, Comcast, MacMail Email Clients displaying From Name (friendly name) and From Email If Email Authentication is set off If Email Authentication is enabled These includes Microsoft Outlook, Hotmail, Entourage, Thunderbird


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Tips to avoid spam filters

Beyond • June 5, 2009

As an email marketer, you\'ve probably felt the frustration of knowing that because your emails are competing against thousands of others, there\'s no guarantee they\'ll get the attention they deserve. A big reason for this is spam: recent studies show as much as almost 70% of email sent out is spam. That\'s the main reason the spam filter was created. The spam filter, in its most pure form, is supposed to weed out the spam emails so all that\'s left in your inbox is opt-in emails that you\'ve subscribed to. Unfortunately, with so many factors affecting the job spam filters do, sometimes good email gets blocked with the bad. Despite making mistakes like blocking good emails, spam filters are here to stay. And it would probably help you tremendously as an email marketer to understand exactly how they work. First off, spam filters can be set up a few different ways. They can either be set up to follow certain rules, or used exactly as programmed. Because there are so many ways they can be set up and used, it\'s quite common to have one email get to the inbox with one email service, and one be placed in the junk file with another. Here are some tips to get your emails to the inbox, regardless of the spam fiilter used: Good HTML code matters. Period. If your capaign layout features sloppy code that makes your emails or newsletters look strange in different email service inboxes, expect it to be blocked. And missing code? That\'s bad too. Make sure you spell words correctly. Bad spelling is the hallmark of spammers. Use a spellchecker to prevent misspellings. Title your email properly. Any email without a title will raise the ire of spam filters. Don\'t send an email that only features an image. Many spammers use a single image in their emails. Use both text and images in all your emails. Send a plain text version along with your standard, HTML version of your email. By sending a plain text version, your mobile phone and PDA-using recipients can also read your emails. Make certain your plain text version of your email matches your HTML version as much as possible. DON\'T USE CAPITAL LETTERS. This will trick spam filters into thinking you\'re sending out spam. Don\'t use non-standard colors, italics or large-sized fonts. Try to personalize your emails by calling your recipients by name. If you don\'t have their names, feel free to use sir and madame. Don\'t use the word “free”. The word free is a big fave when it comes to spammers. The use of the word free can land your emails in the trash bin, especially when you\'ve used all capitals to spell out the word you want to write. Other spammy words and phrases ito avoid are: No risk, risk free, click here, click below, order now, money back guarantee, guarantees, click to remove from mailing list, home loan, bad credit, buy now. Avoid bringing up spam or spam legislation in your campaigns. Spammers use spam legislation as a way to try and dodge filters. Don\'t fall into this trap. So, what\'s the solution? If you\'re not sure if you\'re sending out spammy emails or not, your best bet is to use a spamchecker. For the record, Benchmark Email features a spamchecker tool that analyzes your email and not only shows you which words and phrases will set off spam filters, but gives you an overall score showing your chances of getting to the inbox. Another technique is to set up free accounts with Yahoo!, Gmail and other email services, and sending your campaigns to these accounts as a test. If they make it through, chances are your overall campaign will. If not, you have some work to do.


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Inside the mind of spam filters

Inside the mind of spam filters

Beyond • June 3, 2009

As an email marketer, you\'ve probably felt the frustration of knowing that because your emails are competing against thousands of others, there\'s no guarantee they\'ll get the attention they deserve. A big reason for this is spam: recent studies show as much as almost 70% of email sent out is spam. That\'s the main reason the spam filter was created. The spam filter, in its most pure form, is supposed to weed out the spam emails so all that\'s left in your inbox is opt-in emails that you\'ve subscribed to. Unfortunately, with so many factors affecting the job spam filters do, sometimes good email gets blocked with the bad. Despite making mistakes like blocking good emails, spam filters are here to stay. And it would probably help you tremendously as an email marketer to understand exactly how they work. First off, spam filters can be set up a few different ways. They can either be set up to follow certain rules, or used exactly as programmed. Because there are so many ways they can be set up and used, it\'s quite common to have one email get to the inbox with one email service, and one be placed in the junk file with another. Here are some tips to get your emails to the inbox, regardless of the spam fiilter used: Good HTML code matters. Period. If your capaign layout features sloppy code that makes your emails or newsletters look strange in different email service inboxes, expect it to be blocked. And missing code? That\'s bad too. Make sure you spell words correctly. Bad spelling is the hallmark of spammers. Use a spellchecker to prevent misspellings. Title your email properly. Any email without a title will raise the ire of spam filters. Don\'t send an email that only features an image. Many spammers use a single image in their emails. Use both text and images in all your emails. Send a plain text version along with your standard, HTML version of your email. By sending a plain text version, your mobile phone and PDA-using recipients can also read your emails. Make certain your plain text version of your email matches your HTML version as much as possible. DON\'T USE CAPITAL LETTERS. This will trick spam filters into thinking you\'re sending out spam. Don\'t use non-standard colors, italics or large-sized fonts. Try to personalize your emails by calling your recipients by name. If you don\'t have their names, feel free to use sir and madame. Don\'t use the word “free”. The word free is a big fave when it comes to spammers. The use of the word free can land your emails in the trash bin, especially when you\'ve used all capitals to spell out the word you want to write. Other spammy words and phrases ito avoid are: No risk, risk free, click here, click below, order now, money back guarantee,guarantees, click to remove from mailing list,& home loan, bad credit, buy now. Avoid bringing up spam or spam legislation in your campaigns. Spammers use spam legislation as a way to try and dodge filters. Don\'t fall into this trap. So, what\'s the solution ? If you\'re not sure if you\'re sending out spammy emails or not, your best bet is to use a spamchecker. For the record, Benchmark Email features a spamchecker tool that analyzes your email and not only shows you which words and phrases will set off spam filters, but gives you an overall score showing your chances of getting to the inbox. Another technique is to set up free accounts with Yahoo!, Gmail and other email services, and sending your campaigns to these accounts as a test. If they make it through, chances are your overall campaign will. If not, you have some work to do.


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How to enhance your email delivery

Beyond • April 10, 2009

Great email delivery is one of the most important parts of a successful email campaign. In the long run, it will not only save you money and time, but increase your audience and ultimately boost your sales. At Benchmark, we go the extra mile to make sure you have the very best delivery and open rates, constantly adjusting our strategy to move past any roadblock email clients put in place. But did you know there are things you can do on your end – as an email marketer – to improve your deliverability?Here are some things you can do on your end to ensure most of your emails and newsletters make it to the inbox: 1. Slow down your email send rate Some ISPs set a threshold for how many emails you can send during one session. If you exceed this threshold or limit, their system can flag you as a spammer and will block the rest of your email newsletters. One way to avoid this is to send your messages in small bursts, with a pause of a few minutes between these bursts. 2. Tuesday / Wednesday 2-3pm = increased response If you send during this time frame on these days, your subscribers will come to expect that your email will arrive in their inbox on the same day and at the same time every week. This means that they want to read your content and will generally be more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include. If you keep things consistent, customers are less likely to get confused about your newsletter or email and report it as spam. 3. Use a tag line at the beginning of the subject line Mark your newsletters with a tag line so customers recognize that they\'re coming from you. Here\'s an example: ‘[BME Newsletter] TEST. 297, 04.07.2009—Email Marketing — Tips’. Stay consistent and put a tag line in your subject line every time. The more you do this, the less chance you\'ll get a spam complaint. 4. Always insert the current date in your content A correct date that indicates when the newsletter was sent is more important than you probably think it is. If the date isn’t mentioned or is provided incorrectly, the newsletter is given spam score points. 5. HTML is OK, but only if MIME-Multipart is used When sending newsletters as HTML, make sure that the plain text version is also attached. Messages sent in MIME-Multipart-Format are automatically sent in a way that subscribers without active HTML viewers still get a decently formatted e-mail. It is important that both plain text and the HTML-versions have the same or very similar content. The percentage of text should be higher than the percentage of HTML or images. 6. Use CSS very Carefully In most cases it is better to use in-line CSS-styling in HTML instead of referring to the CSS- file in HTML. However, referring to external CSS-files is better than sending them with the newsletter. 7. Avoid graphics and complex HTML elements Spam-filters consider number issues related to HTML when deciding whether or not to deliver your emails. For instance, if the newsletter has too many closed tags, too many images or table elements, it gets just as many spam score points. Also, keep this in mind that many readers use software (Outlook, for example) which automatically blocks images. If users don’t understand what the mail is about they will report it as spam. Complex HTML is generously awarded with many spam score points. Thanks to this, we suggest that you keep it simple. Colorful backgrounds, tables, JavaScript and Web forms should not be in your newsletters. 8. Ask / Request that your users add you to their whitelist To ensure the bulletproof email delivery, ask your readers to add you to whitelist. 9. Use the same \"from\" address Keep your \"From\" address constant and same. This helps subscribers that have added your email address to their whitelist continue receiving messages from you. 10. Monitor new subscribers Monitor new subscribers to your email lists. Set suspicious email addresses such as \"abuse@\", \"nospam@\", \"postmaster@\" and \"marketerspam@\" as inactive subscribers. these email addresses should not be in your email list. 11. Verify your subscribers with signup confirmation Always make your mailing lists double / confirmed opt-in. This means that when a user subscribes to your mailing list through your website or any other source, they will be sent an email with a link that they must click on to confirm their subscription. This is very important because many people can accidentally enter an incorrect email address or even the email address of someone else on purpose. When that person receives a newsletter they did not subscribe to, they will assume they have been spammed and they will report your newsletter as such. Using confirmed opt-in subscription method will also help you to keep invalid email addresses out from your email list, which reduces the volume and percentage of undeliverable messages or hard bounces.


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