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Marios Italos

Beating the blacklists: How to Make Email Marketing Work for Your Business

The blacklist: every email marketer’s worst nightmare. There you are, putting together a perfectly innocent ad campaign. You’ve identified your ideal demographic. You’ve spent months carefully collecting subscribers. You know that you’ve got something to say that these readers want to hear. And yet, unaccountably, your email is blocked. Your ROI is into minus figures, and because your IP address is now flagged as a spammer in one of the revered Spam Monitoring Databases, you have no way of getting it back. This isn’t just a bad dream; you’ve slipped into night terror territory.

Blacklists are becoming more and more prevalent. And it’s a necessary thing, because in addition to the nuisance spammers, there are a multitude of email scammers out there. The problem is, that while the blacklists – real-time flags used by ISPs to identify spammers – are doing a great job at filtering out the dross, it’s very easy to become caught up in them… Unless you know what you’re doing.

How to avoid the blacklists:

  1. Avoid SPAM complaints. It’s fairly obvious, but as tempting as it is to use the scattergun effect to reach as many customers as possible, if you’re contacting people who aren’t interested you’re much more likely to be reported as a spammer. Once those reports start coming in, it won’t be long before you’re blacklisted.
  2. Audit your subscriber lists. Bouncing emails are never a good sign. Firstly, it’s a flag to you because your message obviously isn’t getting through. But, importantly, it’s also a flag to the ISPs, telling them that your list is either out of date, or simply a fishing trip. If it looks like you’re fishing, they will shut you down. EmailVerifier.com has been created to quickly and easily verify your email lists, avoiding these potential pitfalls.
  3. Steady as you go. One thing that will alert ISPs to the fact that you might be doing something dodgy is if your email list suddenly and dramatically grows. It’s a not very subtle hint that you’ve probably been buying email addresses, which is at best, bad practice, but worst case, it can actually be illegal in multiple countries to contact people without their consent. Most mailing lists grow steadily over time, so make sure that you’re adding to your database in real time, and not storing addresses up for future verification and addition.
  4. Confirm opt-ins. By sending an email confirmation to all subscribers before adding them to your core mailing list, you are achieving two things. 1) Making sure that the address is valid, cutting back on potential bounces through typos etc., 2) Avoiding SPAM reporting through unwanted/accidental subscriptions.

Email blacklists can seem like the enemy. The thing to remember is that they’ve not been created to make life harder for you, but to make life easier – and in some cases, safer – for everyone. If you do your job properly, and use the tools available to you, then there is no reason at all why blacklists should ever cause you problems and everyone can enjoy a SPAM free inbox.

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