MARKETER’S DELIVERABILITY TOOLBOX

Having Troubles With Getting Your Emails Delivered?

These days, it sometimes appears that marketers are only interested
in gaming the system. There is always a new “super-chargedmad-
scientist-marketer’s-system” product out there that claims to
“increase inbox placement by 3%” or “increase traffic by 900 percent.”

 

Frequently, the methods for achieving these kinds of gains involve lessthan-
honest marketing techniques, such as hiding one’s true identity
or relaunching a new product under a different brand each month. In
a world with endless options to get ahead, no matter the cost - who
needs to play by the rules?

 

It might be maddening to you that marketers get away with this sort of
thing. Perhaps the curious part of you wonders if some of their tricks
might actually work. We want to convince you, though, that these
quick-fix tricks are not sustainable, and do not build integrity into your
business practices nor trust with your clients.

Instead, we contend that sending mail the right way - not under the guise of any halftruths or lies — allows you to create longer-lasting and more profitable relationships with your customers and prospects.
We believe this integrity should be situated at the core of your
marketing practices.

This report is for the marketers who are
interested in building honest, long-term relationship with their
customers. If that includes you, yay! We’re thrilled to guide you on a
quest to create a brand that will build a solid client base, make money
and endure over time. Ready, set, email deliverability!

MARKETER’S DELIVERABILITY HANDBOOK

Messaging Content

 

First, there are several factors that impact the successful delivery and
processing of a message. From copy and list hygiene to infrastructure
and authentication, each element must be just right to make it to
your subscribers’ inboxes. We’re starting off our handbook with the
easiest element to edit on-the-fly — your messaging. In each section
below, we’ve got tips for tweaking different parts of your messaging
immediately for improved results in your marketing efforts.

 

From Address: Who are You?
Your From Address is key, because alongside your From Name, it
provides your identity to both the Email Service Providers (ESPs)
and your readers. Because your readers are looking for identity
markers via the From Address when they sift through their emails, it’s
important that yours is consistent and immediately recognizable so
your message doesn’t get trashed.

In other words, if your From Name is different every time, your readers may get confused about the email’s origin and will be less likely to open it. If they aren’t opening your emails, you’re not making much money and they aren’t engaged.

 

Lack of engagement will trigger their ESPs to move your messages
to the spam box — which can instigate a snowball effect of more and
more mail ending up in never-never land. Once your messages start
hitting readers’ spam boxes, there is little to no chance they’ll read
your messages.

The lesson here? Use a clear, unique From Address consistently. Don’t
share it with others. This email address is your identity and your
reputation to the world, so treat it as if it’s being broadcast from your
personal social media page. As marketing rapidly expands day-byday
and the market is increasingly flooded with mediocre products,
make sure what you’re promoting has solid value, and that your From
Address reflects this value.

You may not become rich overnight,
but this consistent identity will help you to build a brand and image
that is sustainable over time. Additionally (and this one’s important):
make sure your chosen address’ domain has valid mail exchange (mx)
records setup and that this inbox actually exists.

 

Reply To: Don’t Just Talk at Your List

 

In a time before email, written communications were sent by way of
letters that were manually written, carefully folded into envelopes,
and placed in a physical mailbox for delivery. Later, the fax machine
allowed people to send messages to anywhere in the world with
a phone.

Email, however, has been the ultimate game-changer
in communication. With email’s inception, messages could be
transmitted from one point to another almost instantly. People could
write to their families at any time - day or night. What an amazing tool
to bring people together! Back in those days, the role of email as an
interpersonal tool was clear, and imagining mass marketing invading
this interpersonal realm would have seemed crazy to most.

But fast-forward to today where email is used extensively as both
an interpersonal and as a mass channel. Although they exist in the
same context, we’d like you to consider the distinct differences in
interpersonal and mass communication that you use or are exposed
to. Think about how a mass message might be written in a way
that feels more like an interpersonal message. Constructing your
messages in ways that feel personal rather than generic is the key to
encouraging people to read your emails.

 

For example, you might use the word “fat” in a message to a friend,
so feel free to use it in your broadcasts. If you’re writing to this
friend, you probably wouldn’t use really s t r @ nge spacing and
characters, so why wouldn’t you put that in your broadcasts? You will,
though, while writing to this friend, provide a lot of useful and relevant
content, such as recent stories from your life or funny experiences
you’ve had recently.

 

If you’re addressing your customers conversationally, like you would a
friend, you are more likely to get positive customer responses. Don’t
stop and pat yourself on the back there, though. Instead, answer them
back. Whether it’s you taking the time to answer, or nicely asking an
intern to tackle this duty, a personal reply creates an extraordinary
experience for your prospects. Furthermore, the ESPs will notice
the high level of attention you give your people. Admittedly, this
process takes more time, but remember: we are focusing on building
lasting relationships, which inevitably takes more effort. To sum up,
use conversational, purposeful language in your messaging, and
make sure to actually answer each response you receive (whenever
possible).

From Name: Keep it Real

 

Again, the key here is consistency. Use a consistent From Name, don’t
pretend to be someone you’re not, and definitely don’t dress up your
From Name like it’s 1999 and you’re choosing an AIM screen name.

Here’s one example of a From Name gone wrong:
~*Brendan*~
Don’t try too hard to be cute; just be you.
Domains: One Bad Mailer Can Ruin the Lot

 

ESPs are starting to develop fingerprinting methods. What this means
is that if you’re sharing links or copy with other providers, you will
be flagged (“fingerprinted”) and judged side-by-side with others
using the same methods/copy as you. So, if you’re sharing links,
it’s important to make sure that you and everyone involved is using
impeccable list management strategies.

These strategies should include active re-engagements (automatically getting rid of users who don’t engage), auto-removing bad or full email inboxes, unsubscribing complainers, and avoiding sending attachments.

Attachments: Fast Lane to the Spam Box
I’ve got some simple and clear advice here: don’t send messages
with attachments. By using attachments you’ll likely end up in the
spam box when sending bulk mail. Instead use a free file hosting
service like Dropbox, Google Drive, to upload your document and then get
a download link. You can easily include this download link in your
messaging to prevent the pitfalls of using attachments.

Hyperlinks and Redirects: What are You Hiding?

 

If you plan on linking to websites in your message and you’re using
an ESP that tracks link clicks, make sure that you do not enter the
raw URL into their message editor. Why? Doing so will temporarily
redirect these links to your ESP’s tracking URL, first hitting a different
page than the URL listed. Essentially, the ESPs think you have
something to hide (even if you don’t).

 

Providers such as Gmail and Yahoo see this as a phishing attack and
often will send your message to the spam box as a result. Instead,
use text that says something like “visit this webpage” and hyperlink
it.

This way, your links will be tracked and you won’t suffer any of the
deliverability issues we mentioned. One more pro tip: don’t use any
public link shorteners. When you use them in your messaging, your
reputation becomes shared with everyone who uses them — including
the spammers and scammers.

Buzzwords: Keep “Phat” on Urban Dictionary (and Out of Your Emails)

 

We’ve already talked briefly about the content of personal emails versus
mass emails. Again, consider an email thread that you might exchange
with a friend. You may tell him about a “free offer” you’ve found, or talk
about something you’ll give him for free, such as furniture, appliances, or
boxes.

Or you may talk about something like fitness, and in doing so you
might utilize words like “fat loss,” “diet,” and “supplement.” Ask yourself
this: why doesn’t a one-on-one conversational email on topics like these
get sent straight to the spam box? Our personal emails, even when
we use phrases like “free offer,” still manage to make it to our friends’
inboxes because the ESPs are very smart.

The ESPs are focused on distinguishing who is interested in only
getting money from who is providing value. So, how do they tell
the difference? The first indicator of your motives will be specific
elements of your verbiage; in particular, they’ll look for obfuscated
words.

The huge engineering teams at these providers figured out
a long time ago that people trying to game the system tend to
purposefully misspell filtered words in an attempt to make it to the
inbox. Believe it or not, the penalty for using such obfuscated words
(phat, f.ree, Cr. ed IT, etc.) is actually higher than just using the actual
word itself. Obviously, if you’re sending a legitimate email, the words
will be completely spelled out and written correctly.

The only reason for obfuscating the words would be to hide something or game the system — which won’t be liked or tolerated by email providers. In sum, don’t try to hide any of your buzzwords. Write them out in proper
English like you have nothing to hide (because you don’t!).

Have a Conversation with Your Readers

 

One of the best ways to get your message into the inbox is to start
a conversation with your readers, rather than just talk at them. You
can do this by enticing readers to comment on your blog or your
Facebook page, or to simply reply to the message. It’s a great way to
increase click through rates, make your email more engaging, and get
much better delivery rates.

 

With Gmail and many of the other providers out there, if a customer
responds to two or more of your messages, your From Address
will automatically be added to his/her address book. Why should
you care? Well, anyone in a user’s address book is automatically
whitelisted (i.e., those contacts will surpass most spam filters). So,
assuming you’re not sending content that is a known virus, you’ll skate
right into the inbox every subsequent attempt. However, we’d like you
to remember that it is still important to continue to engage readers in
order for your emails to be placed in the high priority inbox!

 

Length: How Long is Too Long?

 

Your messages should be long enough to communicate your point.
We generally suggest at least two paragraphs for optimal delivery,
especially if your ESP uses a pixel to track opens. Try to limit your
emails to approximately 5-6 paragraphs at most. If you need to go
longer, insert a “Read More” link that redirects your readers to a
webpage or blog to continue reading.

 

If you plan to include images, it’s important to consider how that
affects the amount of text you should include. Spam filters don’t
like it when lots of images are used in comparison to text because
spammers of the past could write anything in an image, and spam
filters would be none-the-wiser. Therefore, be sure to include a solid
amount of copy if you plan on using images; aim for about 80% copy
and 20% images.

 

The Swipe Copy Epidemic

 

It’s spreading like the plague and most marketers don’t realize
it’s responsible for the rapid demise of their online businesses. An
incredible amount of testing is done every day to determine what
landing page, form, email, arrow, logo, headline, copy, and so on will
get the best return on investment.

Because of this obsession with maximizing marketing potential, it’s become commonplace that gurus and entrepreneurs alike offer their highest performing copy and pages to their affiliates in order to squeeze out as many sales as possible. This is a reasonable tactic for those looking at the bottom
line.

However, what they fail to consider is that the game changes
when there are hundreds of people using the same copy and methods
to promote the same product.

Your messages and IPs’ reputations are only as good as their weakest
link on the path to the inbox. This means that if someone else is
sending a message similar to or the same as yours, the fate of your
emails will be intertwined. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to get
100% inbox hits on an IP that also has someone mailing nefariously
— it’s just more difficult.

The ESPs out there are implementing fingerprinting technology to target those using borrowed or shared content with poor mailers. They know when you’re sending the exact same offer as someone else, and they judge you for it. The major problem here is that while the ESPs know who is sending out similar copy, you, as a mailer, typically don’t.

 

Why does that matter, you ask? Well, if another mailer is spamming
the messages, you’ll find that your ability to reach the inbox will only
be as good as theirs. Bummer, right? Using that swipe copy may have
gotten you an additional 5% conversion rate, but considering that
your mailing probably only actually reached 50% of the intended
recipients, that’s not all that great.

 

Now consider an alternative scenario, where you’ve mailed copy that
you’ve written. This drives users to a blog page where you pitch the
affiliate product or perhaps you’ve even reviewed it. In this situation,
your mailing reputation is your own. Assuming you’re not an all-starseven-
figure copywriter, you may not get as high of a conversion
percentage — but the sheer volume of people reached will outweigh
the higher percentage in no time.

Furthermore, using this technique will help create a positive reputation for you and you domain moving forward, ensuring your continued and lasting success. A successful future is earned by the charismatic, energetic, individual entrepreneur.

Greatness is not achieved by plagiarizing others.

As an exercise, the next time you sit down and are tempted to use
swipe copy to run an affiliate promotion, I want you to envision the
swipe copy of a face-to-face presentation given on stage by another
marketer. Now, read over the transcript of this speaker, and open up a
blank document. Pretend that this document is where you’ll be writing
the transcript for your presentation that you will deliver just five
minutes after the previous presenter (who used the swipe).

 

Is getting up on stage and pitching the exact same thing in the
exactly the same words a good idea? No! Of course, you will include
some similar elements, but generally speaking, originality is going to
be your ally. Rather than just using the swipe word for word, you’ll
probably be more inclined to read it and then write your copy in a
way that improves it piece by piece.

The key takeaway here is this:
be different, be individual, and write in your voice — don’t borrow
someone else’s. You may not realize it, but your people will become
attuned to your writing style and voice, and that is an irreplaceable
asset.

Other Important Considerations

 

Use Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension Messages
Instead of choosing to create your messages in either plain text or
HTML format, always utilize Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension
messages (MIMEs). MIMEs can be used as a container for both plain
text and HTML. Basically, you format both versions of your email and
then broadcast it out. When your message arrives at a particular
recipient’s inbox, his/her provider determines whether it wants to
show the HTML version and render all of the tags to make it look
“pretty,” or show the plain text version sans any of the code. This way,
if a subscriber can only view text only emails in their inbox, they won’t
be bombarded with a bunch of HTML tags that won’t render (which
would make their emails loud and confusing).

 

Set Clear Expectations: What are Your Subscribers Getting Into?

 

Too often, we as marketers put up a simple squeeze page with a
problem listed and an amazing solution...All we need in return is a
user’s email address. However, we often forget that in order to earn
a person’s trust, we need to let them know who will be mailing them
and how frequently. If you don’t say you’re going to continue to mail
them, they probably won’t expect to be receiving continuous emails
from you.

This situation can lead to high complaint rates and a lack of brand
continuity. To make sure you don’t run into complaint trouble and
achieve long term recognition in the inbox, be sure your brand or
name is always present on your Opt In and Thank You pages/emails.

Again, be clear from the start about what those who enter their emails
can expect from you. Remember, we’re building integrity into your
business, so be upfront
— no half-truths!

 

Take Advantage of Thank You Pages

 

Always, always, always ask your subscribers to add your email address
to their address books on both the Thank You page AND in the first
email they receive from you. Why? Well, it whitelists you, which means
that moving forward your email address will hit the inbox and skip
most of their spam filters.

It’s also a great way to make your email
more reputable to the ESPs out there. If users are taking the extra
time to add you to their address book, the ESPs see clearly that you’re
providing something of value that their subscribers want. On top of
that, it’s polite to thank your subscribers and help them to receive all
of the valuable content you have to offer.

Take Care With Your Affiliate/JV Marketing

 

Having an affiliate/JV (Joint Venture) program is a great way to grow
your business. However, it can also be very detrimental. There are
a variety of potential issues that may affect your success in running
huge affiliate programs. These issues, which we will touch upon
below, can impact the longevity of your business/brand as well as
your pursuit of perfect inbox placement.

 

One “bad apple” can ruin the whole bunch, especially in affiliate
marketing. If you’ve got one poor affiliate who is promoting your
domain via spam or less-than-ideal means, your other affiliates will
feel the drain. Fingerprinting technology implemented by the ESPs
has been cracking down on affiliate networks, and their grip is getting
tighter by the day. Because of this, we urge you to be very selective
about who you let promote your product/brand.

Questions for your ESP

 

When choosing who you want to send your emails, it is important
that you have a bit of information about the “fine print” of the ESPs.
While it is basically a requirement that the aspects discussed below
are already in order when mass mailing, it’s a good practice to ensure
that your provider has all of these elements covered. In this section,
we’ve included a list of things to ask your ESP about, alongside a brief
description of each issue.

 

Sender Policy Framework

 

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a tool used in the fight against
impersonation and phishing. To set SPF, you must create a record
and then add it to the DNS Zone file of the domain you would like
to protect. (Note that you can only add SPF for domains you own/
control.) If you’re using a “name brand” ESP, this should already be
taken care of for you. If not, we would highly advise switching to
another provider. A few more technical details are listed below.

This is what an SPF record looks like:
exampledomain.com. IN TXT “v=spf1 ip4:209.237.236.157
ip4:209.237.236.156 ip4:209.237.236.159 a mx ~all”
In the SPF listing, the portion that says v=spf1 means that this is
version 1 of sender policy framework.
IP4 means they should be able to send from this ip address.
a means it should also accept mail from their a record.
mx means it should also accept mail from their MX record.
~all means this is all conclusive of their spf rules.

 

Note that each additional IP associated with the domain is listed after
a space from the previous ip, followed by the phrase ip4.
Here are a couple examples for you:
exampledomain.com. IN TXT “v=spf1 ip4:209.237.236.157
ip4:209.237.236.156 ip4:209.237.236.159 a mx ~all”
exampledomain2.com. IN TXT “v=spf1 ip4:209.237.236.160
ip4:209.237.236.161 ip4:209.237.229.162 ip4:209.237.229.163
ip4:209.237.229.164 ip4:209.237.229.165 ip4:209.237.236.163
ip4:209.237.236.165 ip4:209.237.236.166 ip4:209.237.236.162 a
mx~all”

Domain Keys Integrated Mail (DKIM)

 

DKIM is a technical infrastructure setting that allows a domain to be
connected to an IP. Through the use of an encrypted key (preferred to
be 1024 bits or more), IP/Domain owners are able to connect domains
with IPs in a secure way. This allows the ESPs out there to check DKIM
values both on the sending server and on the DNS of the sending
domain.

 

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)
DMARC is one of the newest forms of authentication to be released
(it’s actually still in Beta at the time of this writing). DMARC allows
domain owners to give ESPs instructions on what to do with
messages if other forms of authentication are broken (spf/DKIM). This
is a great tool because now a business owner can make sure anyone
trying to impersonate his/her brand will immediately be blocked and
that business owner can be notified.

IP Reputation

 

IPs earn reputations just like people and places earn reputations.
Think of a crime-laden neighborhood. It’s probably not somewhere
you would travel to very often, right? Now, think of the most
unpleasant, negative person you know. We’re going to bet that you
probably ignore that person’s phone calls if you can. Well, email
providers do a very similar kind of sifting, filtering and decisionmaking
about emails that we do with people and places. They are
watching what each mailing IP out there is doing and silently taking
note — deciding “who” to trust.

 

Over time they start to determine if “good mail,” “gray mail” or spam
is leaving the IP. When spam or “gray mail” is seen leaving an IP, that
IP will start to develop a poor reputation, and less and less mail will
reach the inbox if that activity continues. Conversely, if only good
activity is observed, ESPs will start to trust messages coming from
that IP source and will apply less strict filters, making the path open
and clear to the inbox.

 

Next, we’ve included descriptions of the top tools for marketers,
starting with some information on two free reputation monitoring
services.

Top Tools for Marketers

 

Senderscore.org: Where Do Your IPs Stand?
Senderscore is a great free tool released by Returnpath. To check
an IPs senderscore, you’ll visit their site (you can get your mailing IP
from your mailing provider, or if you’re self hosted you should already
know this) and enter in your IP into the search box. After this, a score
will pop up somewhere ranging from 0-100. The higher the score, the
better. You should never be mailing on an IP that is 85 or lower. Find it
at https://senderscore.org.

 

Senderbase.org: Check Out Your Mailing Neighbors
Senderbase is another great, free utility for checking an IP’s reputation.
Senderbase (made by Cisco and the Ironport network) is frequently
overlooked in the deliverability community. However, don’t let its
obscurity play down its importance and accuracy.
Senderbase uses a three-tiered scoring system of “good,” “neutral”
and “bad.” While ideally you’ll be mailing from IPs that are listed as
“good,” mailing from an IP that is “neutral” is not the end of the world.

Stay away from any servers that are categorized as “bad.” A large
benefit of using the senderbase ranking system is that it will tell you the
reputations of IPs nearby. If a nearby IP has a ranking of “bad,” chances
are its reputation is going to do some residual damage to your inbox
placement, and you may want to find a different IP to use on a cleaner
block. To check Senderbase, go to their site and paste your IP into
the lookup box. After hitting enter, Senderbase will return with your
IP alongside a list of all of the nearby IPs that could be affecting your
ability to reach the inbox. Try it at www.senderbase.org.

Blacklist Management Tools

 

Even the best of mailers will get blacklisted once or twice. Whether
due to a rogue complaint or just a false positive, it’s bound to happen.
This makes it even more important to have monitoring solutions in
place and to take quick, appropriate action whenever listed.
MXToolbox: An Email Marketer’s Best Friend

 

MXToolbox is a great free tool for looking up more info on any mailing
domain or IP. Visiting www.mxtoolbox.com will allow you to run a
multitude of tests and pull information including:
• Blacklist check
• SMTP Tests
• MX Record
• A Records
• SPF
• TXT
...and many others that are a bit more technical.

URIBL
URIBL is a domain blacklisting service that lists domains belonging to
and being used by spammers. These domains can be anything from
the Return-Path on emails, the From or Reply To addresses, or even
just a domain in the body of an email. Visit www.URIBL.com and sign
up for a free account to see if your domain is listed.

SURBL
SURBL, like URIBL, is a domain blacklisting service. This service
integrates with many other databases, and is a great free resource to
check on the blacklisting status of domains you may be promoting.
Visit www.SURBL.com to check your domains.
SpamCop: Putting Bad Messages in Email “Jail”
Since 1998

 

SpamCop is one of the largest blacklist providers out there because
anyone can sign up to report. SpamCop lists IPs based on feedback
from their community. Most of this feedback is accurate and useful;
SpamCop monitors the content and will typically ban users who post
false positives. SpamCop’s weakness as a totally public forum is also
its greatest strength. Those voluntarily reporting have nothing to gain
by getting an IP or domain listed, so there is reason to believe it is
generally reliable. SpamCop’s blocking list is open for free to anyone
that wants to use it. Visit www.spamcop.net for more info.

Spamhaus
Spamhaus is an international nonprofit that tracks spam sources.
It relays this information to networks to provide real-time spam
protection, and to help law enforcement agencies identify and pursue
spam crews worldwide. Like SpamCop, Spamhaus was founded in
1998. Its most recent appearance in the news came after the world’s
largest DDOS (distributed denial of service) was launched against
Spamhaus by a Dutch man going by “S.K.” Check it out at www.
spamhaus.org.

Content Filters
Each ESP out there uses a different combination of content and
reputation filters, which can make it difficult to have 100% compliant
copy. However, utilizing each of the tools below will increase your
likelihood of making it to the inbox unscathed.

Spam Assassin
SpamAssassin is the world’s largest open source spam analyzer
available. It’s a very versatile tool that allows users to customize the
checker to their liking. It also has many plugins available (such as
domain blacklist checkers through SURBL and URIBL), which make
it a must-have tool. Note that just because your email passes a Spam
Assassin test, it doesn’t mean it will definitely reach the inbox (though
it’s much more likely to). Visit http://spamassassin.apache.org/ to try
it out.

 

Litmus
Litmus is powerful software for rendering and spam checking. Its
powerful suite allows you to check numerous spam filters such as
Positini, Outlook, and Barracuda, among many others. Additionally, it
enables you to render multiple versions of your message so you can
easily view what they will look like in different mailboxes/browsers.
Find it at www.litmus.com.

Handling Bounces
Bounces are inevitable and come in many different forms. The
important thing is to be aware of is how to properly handle bounces.
If you’re using an ESP like ONTRAPORT, it should keep up-to-date on
bounce-handling protocols and definitions, meaning you shouldn’t
have to worry about it. But, in case you want to know a little more
on the subject so you can “speak the lingo,” we’ve included a few
sections with more specific information.

 

Hard Bounces: “There’s No One Here By That Name”
A hard bounce is when you send an email message to an address
that no longer exists. Hard bounces will usually be associated with
an SMTP 554 error. If you receive such an error, it is important that
you unsubscribe that email address immediately. Continuing to mail it
could cause you to hit “graved” spam traps and will cause your hard
bounce rate to rise — both of which have very detrimental effects on
your emails’ deliverability and reputation.

 

Soft Bounces: “The Lights Are On But No One’s Home”
A soft bounce occurs when you try to send mail to an inbox that is
currently full (which the ESPs call “over quota”). Most mail agents
will automatically retry the send a few times before eventually giving
up. If the mailbox remains full for approximately three sends in a row,
it is best to unsubscribe the contact, as this is likely an abandoned
mailbox. If this user really misses your mail, he/she will probably clean
up his/her act and subscribe. It’s possible that this user has already
subscribed to your emails under a shiny new email address, but has
stopped using the one you got the soft bounce from.

 

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
Whenever mail is returned or accepted, it typically occurs via SMTP
(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) code. This code makes it easier for
humans to translate the interactions between servers and then take
appropriate action on message returns.
Without the knowledge of what each value means and the
subsequent action to be taken, the codes are meaningless to you. So,
let us share the secret “language” with you! There are generally three
digits in an SMTP code and each value signifies something different.
We’ll review them digit by digit.

The Meaning of the First Number:
1. The server has accepted the command, but has yet to take
action. A confirmation message is required – this is not
currently in use.
2. The server has completed the task given successfully.
3. The server understands the request but requires more
information in order to complete it.
4. The server has encountered a temporary failure. If the
command is repeated without making changes, it may be
completed. This is generally used to keep untrusted senders at
bay (AOL uses this frequently).
5. The server has found an error.

The Meaning of the Second Number:

6. A syntax error has occured. 

1. An informational reply has been sent (i.e., a help request).
2. Refers to the connection status.
3. Unspecified.
4. Unspecified.
5. References the status of the mail system and the server as a
whole.

 

The Meaning of the Third Number:

 

The third number indicates even more specific ESMTP (the E stands
for extended or enhanced in this case) server response codes.
Reference RFC 821 for a full list of SMTP protocols.

Spam Law
Below is a quick, combined compliance checklist for both CASL
(Canada’s Anti Spam Law) and CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of
Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act) including:
• Explicit affirmative permission (no co-registrations or prechecked
opt in boxes)
• Physical address of sender in every message
• Clear From Name/Address
• Easy opt-out procedure (clickable link, no additional info
needed)

 

Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
In December of 2010, Canada passed CASL. The law encompasses
many forms of digital messaging, including SMS, social media and
email. Most mailers needn’t be worried - if you’re currently abiding by
best practices, you should be fine. However, here are a few details.
Enforcement began on July 1st 2014. Unlike American CAN-SPAM law,
CASL requires explicit affirmative consent. This means that pulling
opt-in information for co-registrations or forms with a pre-checked box
does not suffice as an opt in. Similar to CAN-SPAM, a physical address
for the mailer must be identified as well as an unsubscribe link that is
easily recognizable/actionable.

While CASL applies to all email sent
from or opened in Canada, the law does list an exception for external
senders who have reasonable reasons for assuming Canadians won’t be
getting their emails (i.e., those who only market to those in the U.S).
Here are more details to clarify how this law might affect you.

Who the CASL Applies To
This law applies to you if you send any commercial electronic
messages—SMS, email, social media or instant messages—from or to
Canadian PCs or devices. CASL does not apply to you if you can make
a reasonable assumption that there aren’t any Canadian residents on
your list (i.e., you don’t run any marketing campaigns in Canada). As
is always the case with fine print, there are a few exemptions. You can
still send commercial messages to Canadians under these conditions:
• You already have an established personal relationship with
that person (i.e., your family or friends).
• The recipients are your colleagues, employees, or anyone
associated with your business.
• The recipients are your current customers, or people who have
requested information about your business within the past six
months.
• The message is a legal email attempting to enforce a court
order or legal right.
• You’re sending information regarding subscription, purchase,
account, loan, upgrade, or delivery of a product.
• You’re sending information related to a warranty or recall of a
product or service the recipient has purchased.
• You’re sending a one-off message (as opposed to a bulk
message) to a referral that you have no connection to. (Note:
In this case, the full name of the referrer must be included
in the message. The referrer must have a pre-existing
relationship with who you’re mailing.)
If you are sending marketing messages to the people we mentioned
above, and they don’t fall into any of the exempted categories, you’ll
need to obtain consent in order to keep sending messages.

How to Obtain Consent for Compliance with CASL
Under CASL there are two types of valid consent: “implied” and
“expressed.”
You’ve obtained implied consent when:
• Someone has purchased something from you within the
previous 24 months.
• A contact has made a donation, gift, has volunteered,
attended a meeting organized by you, AND you’re a registered
political party or charitable organization.
• You’ve mailed contacts in the past 24 months and they haven’t
published or asked not to receive unsolicited mail.
In other words, if you haven’t directly asked for consent to message
someone but you’ve been contacting this person for a legitimate
reason before this law went into effect, you have their implied consent
to continue messaging.
You obtain expressed consent when:
• A user specifically requests to hear from you via electronic
messaging.
-- This request can be in writing or provided orally.
(However, be careful with oral confirmations, as they are
less documentable than written confirmations should you
need proof in court that they were obtained.)
• A user fills out a form that indicates they want to hear
from you.

There are a few stipulations on expressed consent, however.
Expressed consent is only applicable if, in the communication of
consent, you’ve included:
• A clear description of the purpose for obtaining consent.
• A description of what exactly you’ll be sending them. It’s
important that you set expectations upfront; even better, let
them know when they’ll be receiving your messages.
• Your name and contact info, including your physical mailing
address, telephone number, and email address or website
URL. (Note: If you’re using an email address, it may be wise to
obfuscate it so that spambot crawlers don’t find it and add it
to their spam bank).
• A declaration that users can unsubscribe at any time.
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography
And Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM)
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was meant to make sending unsolicited
email illegal. Unfortunately, it did quite the opposite and actually
made it legal. Under CAN-SPAM, you are allowed to send unsolicited
mail if: you have your physical address listed in the footer of
messages, you don’t use confusing or misleading subject lines,
and you have a clear (and accurate) from name. Because a lot of
spammers can fulfill these requirements, you can see how this
backfired. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that while
permission may not be required by CAN-SPAM, it is a requirement for
regularly reaching the inbox.

 

Deliverability Vocab 101
Internet Protocol Address (IP)
What is an internet protocol address? Well, think of it as an address
for your computer, similar to how your house has an address. Every
computer and every server connected to the Internet has an IP
address. When a server is sending mail, it sends mail from its own
IP address to another receiving IP address. When you are choosing
a mailing provider, there are many variables that factor into your
decision about a mailing provider, such as whether you want a full
business and marketing automation suite or just a simple application
that can only send emails manually.

However, you’ll also want to
consider a few things related to IP addresses that can impact your
business when you make this decision. The mailing provider you
choose will depend on your business needs, but any direction you go,
you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be using a publicly shared IP pool,
or a bright-and-shiny private IP. We’ll explain more below.

Private IPs: Complete Accountability

 

A private IP is exactly what it sounds like — an IP used only by you. By
using a private IP, you can ensure that no one else’s mailing ability will
affect the reputation of your IP or inbox placement. Be wary though;
this also means that you need to have impeccable mailing and list
hygiene practices. This is because if you mess up, you don’t have
anyone else’s solid reputation to lean on! Many marketers have been
to the seventh gate of the spam box due to some less-than-ideal lead
gathering and continuity practices. Not to worry, though! If you’re
with a reputable provider, they should have someone on staff who can
coach you to success with your private IP.

 

I suggest making sure that you will have this kind of support before
making the decision about which provider to use. You’ll also need to
make sure that you’re sending a semi-consistent number of emails
each week. If you go too long without a message, your IP will start
to “cool off,” or return to a neutral state, limiting the volume of mail
you can send via that IP. Alternatively, if you send too many messages
after a previous broadcast, you’ll start to see huge deferrals to the
spam box. The best rule of thumb is to never increase weekly volume
by more than 100% once the IP has been fully “warmed” to your list.

Public IPs: Know Before You Share

 

Public IPs are shared amongst many users of an ESP or CRM (contact
relationship management). Whereas others’ mailing activity can affect
your activity, mailing reputation it is much easier to manage and mail
from. Volume doesn’t need to stay consistent because if you stop
mailing, someone else using the pool will surely continue to send
messages, ensuring that the pool doesn’t “go cold.” Your provider
should also keep a pretty close eye on anyone using the pool, which
means there isn’t likely to be any poor traffic over that IP.

However, this blessing can also be a curse. If a “bad apple” manages
to get onto the IPs, that “bad apple” can get the IP blacklisted. If
this happens, anyone using that pool of IPs will then be subject to
decreased deliverability because of the listing. Be sure to review our
section on “Questions to ask your ESP” before hopping aboard a
service that uses a shared public IP pool.

I  hope you’re feeling like a real deliverability whiz by now. Keep
checking up on ONTRAPORT’s blog at www.ontraport.com/blog for
more business education and inspiration to keep your biz moving
forward!

Looking Forward To Your Success...

Kent Brown

IMKBrown.Com

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