email Marketing, Mass email and Can-Spam

No Spam circle signEmail marketing remains a very popular and effective method to promote products and stay in touch with customers.  Because mass email marketing is easy to set up and send thousand of emails out it is also very easy to abuse and is often abused.  The most common abuse is known as Spam and Spammers selling everything from Viagra and Cialis to investment schemes and Phishing scams to rip off credit card and financial information.  

Many legitimate organizations unknowingly get labeled as spammers and have their domains black listed through unintentional poor email marketing practices.  Good intentions and legitimate products are not sufficient to separate you from Spammers.  If your email practices break the rules and look suspicious your domain will be blacklisted and generally you do not get a courtesy notification, it just happens and suddenly your emails are not reaching people anymore.

Doing email Marketing Right

If you intend to use email marketing it is essential to do it right and follow the rules.  Esotech can help you develop a compliant and highly effective email marketing campaign that will ensure your domain is not Blacklisted and also deliver exceptional results for deliverability, open rates, and click throughs.  More information on our email marketing programs is available here – Setting Up an email Marketing-Mass email Campaign

What is email Spam?

Congress  passed the well known, but little understood, Can-Spam act in 2003 which is enforced by the FTC.  The Can-Spam act (see previous link) actually has a number of loopholes in it and has not been stringently enforced so email Spam continues to be a problem and Spammers still send millions of Spam emails daily.  Wikipedia has an excellent explanation of the Can-Spam act and the problems with enforcement and application. 

 The problem for legitimate companies is that while the Can-Spam act is somewhat loose in its interpretation and application, the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have been extremely vigilant in taking action against Spam.  All of the major ISPs now have Spam Filters on their servers designed to block Spam emails before they enter their network.  They do this to protect their own networks for security reasons (virus, malware, etc.) as well as to reduce the burden that Spam traffic takes up on their servers and networks.  A side benefit is that it also reduces Spam emails to their users and subscribers. 

How Your Legitimate email got Labeled as Spam

If you are sending large quantities of email with the same content and same or similar content this is mass email marketing.  Even if you send the emails in small batches or one at a time they look like Spam as this is exactly what Spammers do to fly below the radar.  Spam filters look for suspicious email sending behavior that could be Spam.  The filters follow a set algorithm (formula) and if an email meets the criteria it is flagged.  If enough emails coming from your domain are flagged your domain is blacklisted (marked as a Spammer) and once Blacklisted even your regular email will be blocked by the Spam filter.  Each ISP has slightly different Spam filter settings and thresholds so, for example, you could get Blacklisted by ATT or AOL and maybe not by Comcast or Verizon.  

email Deliverabiltiy – why some people don’t get your email

This is why some organizations have email deliverablity problems with some people receiving emails from the organization and others never receiving the same or similar emails including nothing in their Spam folder.  If this is happening your domain likely has been Blacklisted by one or more ISPs which means your email is being blocked at the ISP server and never enters their network. 

How to tell if your Domain has been Blacklisted

 One of the largest and most popular Spam filters used by ISPs is Barracuda Networks.  Barracuda provides a reputation look up where you can check the reputation of your domain to see if it has been Blacklisted.  Another, but less reliable, way is to send individual emails to people in different networks, e.g. ATT, Comcast, AOL, Verizon, etc. to see if they all get the email.  This test does not always work because even when you are Blacklisted some emails may get through and you may not be Blacklisted on all of the networks.  

 What to do if you have been Blacklisted

If your domain has been Blacklisted you can get it removed and restored to the White List.  The process typically takes several weeks to as long as months as requests must be sent to each Spam filter provider that may have Black Listed your domain.  This is a time consuming and somewhat complicated process.  Esotech offers these services and can restore your domain reputation and set up a email marketing/mass email program for your organization that will be compliant with best practices and keep your domain reputation intact.