Tag Archives: email delivery

DMARC – The New Spam Filter

New DMARC Authentication system looks to bring SPF and DKIM together under one system, and it’s supported by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and PayPal


Spam comes in many flavors, all hurt email delivery

Cnet says AOL, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, American Greetings, LinkedIn, and e-mail security providers Agari, Cloudmark, eCert, Return Path, and Trusted Domain Project.

To me this sounds like great news for us all, both senders and email inbox subscribers.

How Does DMARC Work?

A DMARC policy allows a sender to indicate that their emails are protected by SPF and/or DKIM, and tells a receiver what to do if neither of those authentication methods passes – such as junk or reject the message. DMARC removes guesswork from the receiver’s handling of these failed messages, limiting or eliminating the user’s exposure to potentially fraudulent & harmful messages. DMARC also provides a way for the email receiver to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail DMARC evaluation.

You can read the full DMARC specification here….

How To Screw Up Your Email Delivery

How To Screw Up Your Email Delivery, confuse your subscribers and get stuck in spam filters in one quick email or less

I do a lot of local speaking here in Phoenix where we have decided to settle for now.

So I get a lot of email from the MeetUp groups I participate in. But today one of my favorite MeetUps just really demonstrated with is wrong with most small emailers and I just have to share that with you for your own good.

If you are in the Phoenix area I highly recommend Club Entrepreneur. It is a great home for networking, the main floor holds up to 150 seats for public speaking, conference rooms and office space abounds as well. This is a great entrepreneurial setting for any business.

What they lack are Internet Marketing skills.

So here is the list of their mistakes. Are you making these bad moves too?

  • Putting HTML in the text box…
  • Putting text in the HTML box…
  • Using a free email address in the from field
  • Sending email from a social site that gets filtered easily
  • Creating multiple social groups and double emailing
  • Using digest emails with little focus
  • All of the Above…

Here’s the details of the mistakes made by my friends at Club E (short for Club Entrepreneur).

Putting text in the HTML box…

I see major Internet marketers make this mistake all the time. In AWeber in the broadcast and the autoresponder interface there are two textareas that you can enter text in.

One is designated HTML and one is designated text. The HTML box is at the top of the AWeber interface, the text box is below that. Do not accidentally enter plain text in the HTML box by mistake. Your links will not be clickable in Outlook or other email clients as in my Outlook screen shot below.

You may not be catching this mistake if you are sending test emails to a web mail or free email browser account.

Solution: Always test your emails first both in a web client and always in Outlook.

Click image to see full size.






Using a free email address in the from field

It is the reply to field that is the problem here. Free email addresses set off spam filters, proven fact.

Set all your email distribution settings to the main account on your domain. That way you can set all accounts to one reply to address and control where replies are going to. Don’t spray replies to your emails all over the web on free accounts. You email replies are your best source of feedback, sales, clients and return traffic.

Either that or use the default for a social site like MeetUp, so the reply address is their domain. Never ever use a free email address as the reply to or from field. Why? Because it is what spammers do. Look at any spam you receive and it will almost always come from a free email address in the from field and or the reply to address.

Click image to see full size.






Sending email from a social site that gets filtered easily

Most users manage their lists thru MeetUp.com. The bad news is that most groups manage their email lists thru MeetUp.com. Tons of spam posts get posted to MeetUp boards and the default settings on any MeetUp group sends and email to the group members. So, I am guessing that the spam button gets clicked a lot.

Solution: Get members of MeetUp into your main site’s autoresponder. Howie Schwartz said it first and best: “Drag your followers on the social site out and into your own autoresponder”…

Creating multiple social groups and double mailing

My Friends at Club E have two different MeetUp groups. That means to mail all the members they have to double email. That creates confusion and double mailings at the members inbox many times within minutes of each other. Bad idea, avoid this at all costs.

Solution: Mail well in advance, and if you have multiple groups don’t mail them all on the same day within a few minutes of each other. Craft unique emails for each group and for your list.

Using digest emails dilutes the focus and lessens return

Lastly, if you look at the emails above, they are digest emails. Digest emails suck when it comes to getting your subscribers to do what you want. In fact, digest emails cause confusion, get caught in filters because spam many times has tons of links and usually perform poorly.

I suggest sending digest emails on the front end if you must, then send follow up emails that are focused on one action you want the members of your list to take.

All of the Above…

Let’s hope you are not making these kind of errors in your email marketing. If you are then you really need to learn how to “Get It To The Inbox” now more then ever.

What do you think? Tell us!

Let me know in the comments below. I want to hear from you, your best practices and what has failed and what has succeeded for you in the comments section below.

Links to your creatives are welcome below. Don’t be shy!

How To Increase Email Delivery From Return Path

New Advice From Return Path and PDF

Return Path’s Q2 2008 Reputation Benchmark Report (pdf) found e-mails sent from “legitimate” e-mail servers averaged a delivery rate of 56 percent. 20 percent were rejected; 8 percent filtered out of the inbox. The rest — 16 percent — were bounces.

So nearly half of the time, e-mail marketers’ messages don’t get through. But there are ways to increase deliverability, insists George Bilbrey, Return Path’s general manager of delivery assurance. Here are five:

Do I Need to Include My Autoresponders SPF Record in My DNS?

Email Delivery: Should I Add My Autoresponder’s SPF Records to My Domain?

I recently ran across a post that claimed that by adding the SPF records of the writers autoresponder (in this case AWeber) that he expected to get past being blocked by a Canadian ISP. This is complete crap because any authentication technology associates the email in question with the sending domain and IP address not the email from address or the return email address.

I even contacted AWeber’s CEO Tom Kulzer with this scenario just to be absolutely sure and here is the email excerpt.

Chris Lang wrote:

Let’s say that an ISP receives my email from AWeber with my from address and reply address in the header. Do they look at my SPF record to see if I have a SPF DNS entry associated with your (my autoresponder) email servers?

Tom Kulzer said

They look at aweber.com SPF records.

Chris:

Also is all email sent from AWeber under the address keywebdata (at) aweber.com sent from the same IP address everytime?

Tom Kulzer:

It’s not sent from the same single IP, but load balanced across the same range of IP addresses. Those ranges can all be found in our SPF record directly or in our FAQ on the website.

Chris:

In other words does it matter if authentication records associate my domain and from address with yours?

Tom:

Does sending from the same single IP matter? No.

Does sending from the same group of IP’s matter that have an excellent reputation and reliable volume of mail built over a long period of time matter? Absolutely, yes.

Chris:

Also is there any data to support a higher delivery rate due to the use of SPF, Sender Id and DKIM?

Tom:

Not that I’ve seen which clearly shows this, but general industry knowledge of how various ISP’s build reputations
of senders and make delivery choices tells me it does help support higher delivery rates.

Chris:

Tom you have been a wealth of information on email delivery to us all many times, I just want to thank you again for taking time away from your business to set us straight.

Email Delivery and Your Email Reputation: Don’t Call Yourself a Spammer

How could you possibly ruin your Email Delivery and mark your own email IP address as sending spam?

Yes you really can be clicking the “This is Spam” button on yourself. It happens quite easily and you may have already done this yourself.

The problem is that an automated spam filter is simply unable to determine what is spam and what is a forward. Here’s a break down of the problem using Comcast as an example.

You setup an auto forwarder from your domain to your Comcast email account. This also occurs often when you forward email from your work email account.

You are forwarding mail from you@yourdomain.com to you@Comcast.com.

When your customers send emails to you@yourdomain.com the email gets forwarded to you@Comcast.com

One day you receive some spam at you@yourdomain.com, which was auto forwarded directly from you@Comcast.com.

You open your you@Comcast.com mail box and see the spam, so you click to “Mark it as SPAM” and add it to your Comcast spam filter . You have just entered a spam complaint against your own email server! Comcast’s spam filter does not register the originator of the email as the spammer – instead, it registers the last place the email came from as the Spammer and in this case and the last place the email came from is your email server which is the outgoing email server for hosts you@yourdomain.com.

Comcast will then blacklist the entire mail server so that no one can send email to any Comcast email accounts.

They will then contact your host and ask that your domain be deleted.

Until then Comcast will block all email from the outgoing SMTP servers associated with your server (thru reverse DNS).

Solution

What do I need to do you ask?

You need to login to your email admin on your domain and go through your email accounts and take off any forwarding that forwards email to any account or any other ISP.

Also check to make sure your email Alias is not forwarding to any email account or any other ISP.

Although it might be an inconvenience to many, I think this decision is necessary to protect our mail servers from being blacklisted by ISPs in this way.

Verizon, Comcast or AOL certainly do nothing to investigate the source of the spam and would rather shut down a server than take a minute to check it out.

Please note, this does not mean you cannot send emails to Verizon, Comcast, AOL or other ISP based email accounts. This simply means you should not set your email account to auto forward emails. You will still be able to compose your own email to ISP users, and you will be able to forward an email to those users from your mailbox manually.

Double Opt In, Email Delivery and Why Double Opt in Works

Double opt in, why you should not care if your double opt in rate is crappy and what to do about it if it sucks!

This double opt in article came to be written because of a number of people whining about double opt in and AWeber. It was written very quickly and with a little heat, most of which I have removed.

AWeber delivers 97% of the email they send to the inbox. Most others are at 80%. 20% more delivery = 20% more profits. Do the math.

Next AWeber is an autoresponder not just a list manager. The ability to set up preset marketing delivered at the rate you choose is priceless. Search “autoresponder tips” if you do not understand this.

Double opt in prevents spam complaints. Spam complaints are the result of a recipient clicking the “this is spam button” and will get you blocked faster than anything else. A visitor cannot misspell their email address and send someone else your emails with double opt in.

Double opt in also saves your email reputation because you are not bouncing emails to bad addresses. Those same misspelled emails that get the spam button clicked can bounce when the recipient does not exist. ISPs keep track of bounced emails and the server it is sent from. The more bounces, the lower your email reputation score.

The very first time someone clicks the “this is spam” button on an email you sent without double opt in can get you banned by the receiving ISP. Your host may delete your domain and you are going to definitely get listed on RBLs (real time blacklists).

Sure you can triple your opt in rate by not using double opt in, but all it takes is a five or six spam complaints and you are history! NO site, NO domain, GONE. Forever.

The bottom line here is still that any email service that uses single opt in is just not going to have high delivery rates especially to Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft and that is probably 90% of the email inboxes these days.

Now let’s consider this: If they won’t confirm their address will they open your emails that you send in the future?

Will these readers that wouldn’t double opt in click thru to your site from emails?

Will these same people enter their credit card in your forms when they wouldn’t even double opt in?

Now let’s talk about increasing your email delivery and double opt in rate

When someone signs up via a AWeber form you have a hidden field named “redirect”

Here you can enter a URL on your site that a lead is sent to rather than a AWeber page.

Here you need to have an irresistible incentive to get the lead to open your email and click the link.

Stuart, I am sure your content rocks but don’t be insulted here, content just ain’t goona do it.

Here is the page I use on my site: email delivery ebook and the four chapter incentive.

Next to stay out of the spam folder you need to get you subscriber to whitelist you.

Email whitelist generator will generate these instructions for you.

Finally when your lead clicks the AWeber confirmation link there is one more page that you can send your new subscriber to.

This page is configurable in the AWeber console.

Don’t just send them to some lame thank you page, surprise them with an unannounced bonus or at least send them to some good content that is new and worthwhile.

If your sales letter has a good conversion rate and content in addition to the sales process, send them there on the click thru confirmation. But whatever you do the whole process should brand you as an authority on your subject.

Hope this helps,

Chris Lang

New CAN SPAM provisions

New CAN SPAM provisions released, not anything ground breaking

• An email recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single Web page to opt out of receiving future email from a sender.

• The definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements.

• A “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under U.S. Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address.”

• A definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

You can read the full CAN SPAM FTC press release here.

Yahoo to use Return Path Sender Score Certified?

Yahoo is soon to start accepting Sender Score Certified via Return Path!

Yahoo using Sender Score Certified whitelist and Return Path was quietly made public in January 2008, “Yahoo! is implementing the scheme and will begin checking using it sometime in spring.” We have not heard much since. My connection at Return Path just mentioned Yahoo the other day and brought it back to mind.

Return Path blog says “Receivers that accept the Sender Score Certified whitelist include, among others, Windows Live Hotmail, Time Warner Cable, GoDaddy and soon Yahoo! and Yahoo! operated email properties.”

Maybe this is why Yahoo has been such a nightmare to deliver to lately and why Yahoo pulled it’s FBL in March.

Since they announced that Comcast would offer an FBL managed by Return Path I have been expecting the Yahoo Sender Score Certified Return Path full press release to come forth.

I don’t mean to be a nutty conspiracy theorist here, but first Comcast has no whitelist, no FBL and is tough to get your email delivered to. Then Comcast offers an FBL through Return Path. Next, it’s Yahoo, who pulls their FBL, calling it an end to a beta, is impossible to deliver any email to for months and now is poised to solve it all with Sender Score Certified and Return Path.

As always I invite your comments below! = Chris Lang

Technorati

Part of avoiding spam filters is using other forms of social media.

If you have ever wondered how blogs get those cool Technorati buttons on their site, here it is.

Create a log in, or log in to Technorati, then go thru the “claim blog” process. Once you are done it will provide you with the code to add the buttons to your site.

Hope this helps! = Chris Lang

Stefan Pollard Comments on the New Whitelist Email Generator

New Email Whitelist Instructions Generator and why I disagree with top email delivery authority Stefan Pollard

Being the most prolific email authority on email delivery (I have to be #2), Stefan Pollard of Email on Click Z is followed avidly by many, especially myself.

Marketing Sherpa went into very in depth detail in suggesting that we all use user email whitelist instructions on our sites. You can view Marketing Sherpa’a email whitelist instructions.

In fact this article goes into how Email Management is Lacking and not taking advantage of landing pages throughout the subscription process.

Now I asked Stefan to take a look at my whitelist email instructions and the whitelist email generator that built them.

Here is his response and mine is below it, so read on!

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the kind words, and I did take a look at your script. It seems to be very thorough, but I wonder if the personalization attempt at the beginning is really necessary? There are only a small handful of sites I have seen that publish directions for the different email clients to add to the address book (or whitelist in your case) and some studies done by Jupiter show a surprising sophistication by email users. Of the sites who do publish, general directions seem to be quite clear.

Marketers often times believe that the general user doesn’t know how to do simple things with their email client (like whitelisting) when the opposite is true, they know how but chose not to. The only time I have seen users use the whitelisting features in their email clients is during the reply function (when half or more clients ask you to) or when email of value consistently lands in the junk folder. The second part is quite rare.

What would be an interesting posting would be a complete list of FBL sources, links and directions on how to apply. Using FBL’s for list hygiene is much more valuable to a marketer than address book whitelisting directions. Professionals know how many sources exist and how to set them up, the average marketer is not aware of all the sources and often thinks the only ones are AOL/Hotmail.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan

Thanks for the reply here Stefan but I do have to disagree with you on the point that our subscribers are more advanced than I believe.

The one thing I have learned is that you must construct your instructions for anything to include the lowest common denominator in any type of instructions. Look at the questions that come in from someone that tries to download a report to their own machine. Most Internet users cannot even download a file to their own file structure, manage to find it and open the PDF file afterwards. You have to provide explicit instructions on how to do this so you are not constantly having to answer support emails.

When it comes to email it can be even worse. Your email can easily end up in the spam folder until a new subscriber finds it there, opens it and then whitelists you to enable HTML and clickable links. I reported on this a year ago when Hotmail was the first to disable clickable links and HTML. AOL, Gmail and Yahoo have followed suit.

After reading your email Stefan, I decided to go back and add a line stating that “Due to the overzealous filtering by ISPs you may have to look in your spam folder and recover my email.”

Do you have any suggestions on how I could word this better? It should portray that it is not there because I am spammer, it is there because the ISPs filters get carried away. Also what other suggestions do you have for my readers that could help us get over the hump of a new subscriber trusting us and whitelisting our email addresses?

Also as far as FBLs go I totally agree! I have a complete list of 10 ISPs, their FBL links and how to use them, but I have to save something for the email delivery book!

Of course I invite all your comments below. – Chris Lang