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

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Comments

  1. I think the only thing Stefan said that I disagree with is:

    “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,”

    I don’t mean to sound rude or insulting to Stefan, for I think he’s a pretty smart guy, but it does seem to me that he has either forgotten (or never learned) that most of the people considered as “General Users” barely know how to do simple things with their computers ~ let alone do simple things which are net related.

    On a daily basis I deal with people who don’t know much more than how to turn on their computers and connect to the net to get their email, it amazes me sometimes how hard it is for people to do simple point and click jobs – let alone know the technical terms for the things they do. Sometimes it’s a difficult task to get people to understand that Links and URLs are basically the same thing. It’s not that these people are stupid, for not all of them are… they simply have no need or desire to do much more than point and click is all.

    When I first came to these types of Blogs and Forums, I had no idea that the term “Whitelist” existed. I’ve never heard the term used before in the 50 years I’ve been alive. I did know what a blacklist was, so I assumed the whitelist was the opposite. When researching the term I find variations in how people define the term, in most cases the definitions are very similar — but they are not all the same. To think a Whitelist is basically the opposite of a Blacklist suffices, in order to follow a conversation… but it’s not the same as knowing the proper definition for the term.

  2. Thanks Chris and John, I appreciate the kind words, and we’ll just have to disagree on general user internet skill sets. However, I will answer the question Chris posed about wording of the whitelist request and language.

    I stress with my clients the importance of the opt-in process and the touch points associated with it. Your sign up form should stress the value of your program, but you have two more touches immediately afterwards, the thank you confirmation page and the welcome message.

    Good copy writing provides clear directions and benefits for taking an action, but also contains a consistent “voice” of the website. So I won’t attempt to provide the perfect sentence because the voice on different sites dictates the copy.

    I do request readers to “ensure your subscription reaches your inbox, please add sample@sample.com to your address book” on the thank you page. Notice I don’t call it a whitelist or safelist as these are techie speak. If you wanted to use your script here, placing on the thank you page would make sense.

    The welcome email should contain similar language to the thank you page with more benefits of being a subscriber, links to previous or special content (incentive of some kind), and the add to address book language. Beyond this email, I place copy down in the “Email Admin” center for future mailings with a very small link in the preview pane that states “Ensure Delivery” if I think it is a real problem.

  3. Ruh Oh Shaggy, this isnt going to turn into a heated discussion is it???

    “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.”

    I Completely Agree!!!

    Im sorry but I have to disagree in a different individual points ….

    “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.”

    Marketers, Good Marketers, will take you by the hand and walk you through everything that you do in their process …. Big Difference.

    It’s not that we “marketers” believe this or that.
    It’s our job not to ASSUME that our prospect is familiar with the process.

    Look at it this way, When you go to a fast food joint (McDonalds) and ask for a hamburger what to they ask you? …
    Just the burger or the meal? …
    Do you want fries with that? …

    They dont assume you know about the value meal, or that you know how to place a proper order … its also upsell but thats a totally different topic.

    What about when the cable company comes out to install service?
    They show you how to use the remote and everything.
    I, Personally just had my cable internet and phone installed.
    I have used it several times before, I have been using a computer since I was a little kid, and I studied computer networking at my local college, so I am plenty knowledgeable about the product and how it works …

    I couldn’t get those guys to leave fast enough, trying to explain everything to me.

    It’s their job. Their employer (Big Cable) requires them to inform you of how to do everything.

    Look at it this way as well.

    What about the angry email subscriber who never got his email returned, or even got their free reports because the email went to the spam box….?

    You tell them, well if you whitelisted, this would have never happened.

    The Response …. Get Ready ….
    Well I didnt know? I didnt know how.

    When you are a marketer of any type, unless targeting a specific group of people, you can never assume they know anything!!!

    “Your sign up form should stress the value of your program, but you have two more touches immediately afterwards, the thank you confirmation page and the welcome message.”

    I agree with that… in part.
    If all you have is a thank you page and a welcome email, your missing out.

    This is the Michael D Price newsletter optin process.
    land -> squeezepage | action->submit form
    land -> confirmation/whitelist page | action->open email client
    land -> email client | action -> open confirmation email
    land -> confirmation message | action ->click link
    land -> one time offer | action a->buy,b->click no thanks
    land -> Thank You Page | action ->download products

    There is a free outline you can use for your optin process.

    Michael D Price
    Developer of Whitelist Wiz

  4. Stefan said: “I do request readers to ‘ensure your subscription reaches your inbox, please add sample@sample.com to your address book’ on the thank you page. Notice I don’t call it a whitelist or safelist as these are techie speak.”

    Sure, if your clients or customers are more tech savvy, which EmailLabs’ most probably are, then you *might* get away with it. But in the majority of cases I’ve come across, I don’t think just that one line is enough.

    Just have a look outside the (email/internet marketing) industry. Just today, I met with a hair salon owner who I’m building a site for. He’s a guy in his thirties. He knows he must have a website for his business but admits to not being computer savvy. For example, his anti-virus software has expired and he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t even know what a blog is!

    Another recent example… I sent an email to another new client, on a Monday. He owns a care home. I didn’t hear back from him for a few days. I assumed he simply didn’t check his email as often as us lot. So I followed up by phone and discovered he was waiting for my email and was wondering why he hadn’t received it. I told him to check his spam/junk folder. Guess what? Yep, there it was. It had been sitting there since the Monday I sent it. Obviously I explained why that happened and advised him to add me to his address book, which he’s done.

    The point is, whatever industry we’re talking about, involved in, you must cater to different levels of knowledge and experience. Offer a helping hand that goes beyond just “please add sample@sample.com to your address book” and explain why this is so important for them to do. Emphasise the value of doing so. Give them instructions.

    Educate people. Those who want it, and realise the value of it, can take it and make use of it. Those who are more clued up can choose to skip it. But give your audience the choice. And for us who deal with B2B, we must educate our clients to educate their audience in this.

    I do agree with not calling it a whitelist or safelist. After all, if someone has no idea what a blog is, more mumbo jumbo is only going to confuse them further. Use the language they know – “address book”, “contacts list”. That’s what they’re clearly marked as in all the email programs and services.

    The mistake I see so many businesses (big and small) making is assuming that just because people have joined their list that they’re tech savvy. Sure, some are. But many, many others aren’t as ‘geekie’ as us lot. For some businesses – I’ll even go as far as to say for most businesses, this is the majority.

    And it’s these people they’re doing a disservice to by not going the extra mile and educating them about the importance of whitelisting.

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