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SMTP Without Risk of Spam

Posted on 2013-12-23
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Last Modified: 2013-12-30
I have a timing business that has a fairly large database of participants.  I want to be able to notify participants of our events about upcoming events.  I have a "do not send" option in the email process but I am still concerned that we might get blacklisted.  What is the best way to send this type of email to lots of participants without the risk of being blacklisted?

Thanks!
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Question by:Bob Schneider
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 84 total points
ID: 39745942
An enterprise like you appear to have will often use a commercial sender such constantcontact.com .  

I think the only sure way to send bulk email without being blacklisted is via a commercial bulk mail sender. There are a variety of these offerings available including the one above.

There are free or low cost software offerings such as mailchimp.com

... Thinkpads_User
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by:Sjef Bosman
ID: 39745944
Contact your ISP and get them involved. They can remove the blocking limits.
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btan earned 84 total points
ID: 39745989
This link is pretty informative which you may want to explore to tune the title to content and even into your reputation..

http://emailmarketing.comm100.com/email-marketing-ebook/flagged-as-spam.aspx

The very first and most important thing that you can do to ensure great email deliverability and avoid being flagged as spam is to build a great email list. This means that you are not purchasing or renting lists that you can't trust the source of and it means that you are not sending your customers or subscribers unwanted email. Make sure that the email leads that you have generated for your database came from email sign-up boxes where the users clearly opted-in to your email program. For ideal security, use a double opt-in process where users must then click a confirmation link on an email they receive after they sign up in order to activate your email sends.

It may seem as though making it more difficult for your subscribers to sign up will actually cause you to create a smaller email list. That may be true. However, if you begin sending email to users who do not want your email and, as a result, get a high number of being flagged as spam, you'll risk not being able to email to your most valuable clients.

Your sender reputation is a number or score assigned to your sending IP or source. If you are using a third party email marketing platform, it's important that you select a service that has a high sender reputation and that protects its sender reputation by ensuring that its clients don't send spam emails.

e.g. a few free services to check if your email server is on a blacklist:
Free Email Blacklist Lookup - https://www.senderscore.org/blacklistlookup/
Email Blacklist Check - http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
Spam Database Lookup - http://www.dnsstuff.com/docs/ip4r/

e.g. a few whitelist provider for email filtering
Dnswl.org - http://www.dnswl.org/s
IPv6 Mailserver Whitelist - http://www.ipv6whitelist.eu/

One of the single most important steps to staying out of the junk or spam folder is to reduce the number of active spam complaints from users. By providing an easy-to-use and easy-to-spot unsubscribe link, you can reduce spam complaints significantly.

e.g. 3rd party email services - http://sendgrid.com/transactional-email/pricing
(of course if you run your own email servers then check into assuring Your DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID and Domain Keys are setup properly, you probably need your infra folks to advise)

There are many free online tools that will scan your email content and give you a score or a color-coded rating regarding the likelihood that you will be flagged as spam. While these tools are imperfect, they can give you a red flag if you are clearly in the danger zone.

e.g. A few of spam checking services:
MailingCheck.com offers a free downloadable tool for Windows that uses SpamAssassin to check. If you prefer to avoid downloading any software, you can send email to the IsNotSpam.com service and they will also check a few other items important to email deliverability. Alternatively, ProgrammersHeaven.com uses a form-based solution to test your emails. Another is IsNotSpam online spam checker (http://www.isnotspam.com/)

While images are an important part of any email template, the more images you use the more you may experience spam filter issues. If you are having a difficult time making it into the inbox, then one of the first steps you'll want to explore is to reduce the number of images in your email template

e.g.
Email Spam Filter Trigger Words To Avoid In Your E-Campaigns - http://blog.mannixmarketing.com/spam-trigger-words/

Importantly, be savvy on compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, see the requirements
-Don’t use false or misleading header information
-Don’t use deceptive subject lines
-Identify the message as an ad
-Tell recipients where you’re located
-Tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you
-Honor opt-out requests promptly
-Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
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by:Mohammed Hamada
Mohammed Hamada earned 83 total points
ID: 39746042
In our enterprise when we want to send bulkmail we don't use our exchange or mail server service.

We use an alternative one but it uses your domain name as well. Try using Streamsend.

http://www.streamsend.com/features_list.htm
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 83 total points
ID: 39746058
I would use either constant contact or mailchimp although I personally like mailchimp better.  either of these are good if you are sending out a newsletter.  You can do a one time import from your own database and from there use the api to automatically send people that fill out a form to both your db and mailchimp/constantcontact.

The other option is to send using cdo from your database.  For this I use both sendgrid.com and mandrill.com.   While mandrill does seem to appear less and expensive, I think sendgrid is about the same for larger quantities. One thing to factor in the price is sendgrid has a unique ip where mandrill does not unless you pay the extra $30 per month.    

Both of these companies are working to keep their ip's white listed. Sendgrid will cost $80 per month for the first 100K emails.  You can use this for your newsletter or one off emails.   With sendgrid/mandril, you will need to create your own html mail and either send using an api or via cdo as you are probably used to but just change the outgoing server/username/pass.

Using these 3rd party smtp's keeps the mail out of your domain.

The other part is the content.  Sending content and not a large image will help.   Try and avoid subjects that could be interpreted as being spammy such as, "****Free!!! whatchmacallit****"

(padas)
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by:Rich Rumble
Rich Rumble earned 83 total points
ID: 39746083
Use a 3rd party, and make sure you have a prominent  unsubscribe/opt-out link. We love using ExactTarget.  There are lots of them out there though. It only takes 2-3 complaints to get you blacklisted, and takes forever to get off the lists, ET and other have established relationships and understandings with RBL's and SPF maintainers.
-rich
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by:aburr
aburr earned 83 total points
ID: 39746228
one item not mentioned in the good ideas listed above
-
Urge your clients to be sure that their spam blocker is set to pass your e-mails
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