‘Tis the “spam” time of the year!

I don’t know about you, but between October and the end of January, I see a significant increase in the amount of spam that lands in my inbox.  The wonderful people that send us these tidings of great joy and discounts are desperate to get their names and products to the front of your brain so that you will quickly rush out to buy that gadget or widget that you never knew existed. As we are a company that is on both ends of this spectrum, we understand the rules that must be adhered to, both to keep your company off blacklists, and to also to get your products or services out to the masses, without making them despise you.

You may ask yourself: “What are ‘blacklists’ and why do I care if I get on one?” Blacklists are basically lists of email servers that are known to send out unwanted communications.  Blacklists are the very first tool in most spam lines of defense.  These blacklists trade information from one to another, so if you get on one, you will be added to more of them in a few short hours. If you’re email server gets on a blacklist, the likelihood of your email reaching its destination decreases dramatically.  So, that leaves us with the question of how to get off the blacklists if we get on one or, many.  The answer to this question depends on the blacklist(s) that you get onto, but needless to say, they don’t make it easy or convenient. Some services, you simply have to wait until the number of complaints diminishes, and then they will take you off, but you cannot get off the blacklist by request.  This can take days or weeks.  The point here is that blacklists are bad.

The first thing that I will say is that no matter what service you use to send your newsletters, marketing messages, updates, etc., you have to include a one-click “Unsubscribe” link. It is not only the nice thing to do, it is the law.  That being said, he only thing that makes me blacklist spammers—that is, clicking the “report spam” button in my email application of choice—faster than someone that doesn’t have an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email, is the one that makes me fill out some kind of form to unsubscribe.  I don’t need to do that; I will just go ahead and block every email you try to send to my mail servers.

I mentioned using an email service provider earlier, and when I say “service,” I don’t mean Outlook or your favorite web-based email system.  (Sending from these applications can get your email servers, or whichever email provider you use, blacklisted.) What I’m referring to are services that focus on email marketing compliance and are generally well-received by most corporate email systems, such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, or Vertical Response, to name a few.  These providers have policies in place as to what type of content you’re sending through them but, generally, they are loose policies that deal with inappropriate content.  Using these services is a must, both to get through the corporate spam firewalls to reach your targeted audience and to ensure that your normal email flow remains unhindered by blacklists.

The final point that I will touch on is that of simply making a presentable marketing email, which looks great both in clients that download pictures by default, as well as ones that don’t. While it is important to have a nice balance of images and text in your email communications, you must keep in mind that not everyone will see the images. Therefore, make sure the email looks good, even if the images won’t load.

If you need some assistance with your email marketing strategy or design, we have a great team dedicated to this. Contact us today to get started!