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Avoiding Spam Lists

Posted on 2013-10-24
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Last Modified: 2013-10-24
I work for a small company and we send out mass emails to our patients approximately once every 6-8 weeks advertising new trials.  They go out to about 2000 people.

A few weeks ago we found that our domain had been added to Trend Micro's "spammer list".  My guess is that enough of our customers hit the "report as spam" button on their trend anti spam protection software to get us on the list.  We contacted our ISP and were able to get the domain removed from the list but it did take almost a week.

We haven't sent out any more because we're a little concerned about the "reputation" of our primary domain.  In our business, we basically have two sets of customers because we run trials for Rx companies.  So, we work hard to acquire the trials from those companies and then we recruit our "other customers", which are the Patients who participate in the trials.

Having a good reputation with our trial sponsors is obviously extremely important to our company, and it's frankly a little embarrassing to have our emails blocked as spam when we're trying to communicate with them.  So, I had the idea to get a totally separate domain to do these bulks emails in order to keep the reputation of our primary domain clean.

My question is just to ask for an expert opinion about whether this is the right thing to do.

Thanks!
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Question by:AccessGuy1763
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Alan Hardisty earned 500 total points
ID: 39597718
If you don't provide an Unsubscribe link, then the only option for the recipient is to report you as spam if they don't want the emails from you.  Do you provide such a link?

Mass emails are better send from a 3rd party mailing company as problems won't affect your day-to-day mailings.

Some good reading for you on email compliance:

http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

Alan
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by:AccessGuy1763
ID: 39597775
Yes they can unsubscribe... my concern is more about people hitting the "report as spam" button instinctively (even when they agreed to let us send email to them).  I read through the link you provided and I would testify under oath that we gave our best effort to comply with all of the elements described... yet we still got on the list.

I'll look into having a 3rd party handle these emails and compare the cost to the time I would need to spend configuring our Exchange Server to handle an additional domain.

Thanks for the advice!!
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 39597790
Well - then you can't do much about it unfortunately short of educate the plonker, sorry, customer, who reports email as spam rather than unsubscribes.

That's an educational issue which you have no control over, although I doubt one report would get you blacklisted.

Shifting the mailing off your main server would alleviate the problem though, but add to the costs sadly.

Alan
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by:AccessGuy1763
ID: 39597849
The worst part is that I, of course, have no clue who did it.  I do agree that it would've taken more than one report.  I would love to just shrug it off and hope it doesn't happen again, but  I'm concerned that our more "seasoned" patient/customer base might not appreciate the difference between reporting as spam and unsubscribing.

Also, our COO was a bit embarrassed because she is the one who communicates with the Rx companies and acquires new business for us.  They are also a lot more likely to use Trend or a similar product that has a list we could end up on so she was the main one affected.

I checked into it, and I think we'd probably be in the $15-$25 per month range to go with a third party company, so I'm going to try to save us some money and dig into setting up Exchange to handle a new domain which we can get for $10 a month.  I would celebrate having something to keep me busy but, of course, I'm swamped as can be at the moment. :P

Thanks for your advice! :)
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by:AccessGuy1763
ID: 39597851
Great advice.. thanks!

PS - Domains cost $10 a year, not per month :)
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 39597910
I think you're missing something here.  There are MANY factors that go into determining if your message is spam and not just someone marking it as such.  Heuristic algorithms try to look at content and determine it... "false positives" happen all the time and I see no reason why an intercepting service like Postini (if they still exist), or trend can have false positives as well.  Plus, it's not just domains.  I can send e-mail from any domain I want - including your domain - all I need is to configure my SMTP server to allow me to do so.  So domain filtering is ONE of MANY metrics that can be used.  Another - one I find FAR more common - is the IP address.  Get your IP blocked and it won't matter what your domain is.  And if you get your IP on an RBL... some of those can be EXTREMELY difficult to get removed from.

If you have to send out more than a few dozen e-mails, USE A THIRD PARTY.  The cost in the check you/your company writes will be FAR less than the possible headaches and embarrassment of not being able to communicate with your customers because you ended up on an RBL you cannot get off of.

(Another option - and I don't think this is as good - make your mailing list OPT-IN - with monthly - requirements to click a link indicating they wish to continue seeing your e-mails)
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by:AccessGuy1763
ID: 39598559
Thanks for the additional comment.  You are exactly right.. Trend (and most/all others... I presume) has a list by IP address, not domain.

Considering our limited options, management agreed that the small cost of outsourcing this function was worth protecting our site from being added to spam lists.

Thanks again to both of you.
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