Why do you even need to sign up with a company to send out your email marketing? After all, you've collected plenty of email addresses yourself or have found a company that will sell you a list. And you've already paid for software that helps you create flyers. So you're all set, right?
The reality is that sending out mass emails, from either your personal email address or your business address, can be very damaging to you and your company's web presence. Without getting too technical, here's what happens:
Since spam is a concern for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), they have to find ways to combat it. Believe it or not, your email passes through quite a few gatekeepers as it goes from your computer, through the virtual world, and lands in someone else's inbox. And each step along the way, it can be blocked (see figure 1).
(Figure 1 - In this figure after the email is sent, it is approved for delivery each step as it passes through the outbound server, the edge network, the receiving server and the firewall, before it is delivered to the recipient's inbox)
Let's review how the different ISPs work and how they can block your emails, sometimes without you even knowing.
One way to stop individuals from sending spam is to figure out how many emails the "average person" would send in a day. If you send out much more than that, your outbound ISP may assume that your computer has been taken over by a hacker and turned into a spam machine, and they'll cut-off your ability to send emails through! They'll simply block anything you send out. Better safe than sorry, they figure. And you'll never even know your emails didn't get through.
Edge Networks, Receiving ISPs, and Firewalls
Edge networks sit on the outside of receiving ISPs and filter incoming traffic for spam and viruses, among other things. They could block your email from getting through, especially if they come in at high rates or have badly written code (yes, there is such a thing as well written code and badly written code, and most of us never know the difference).
Even if the outbound ISP sends out your email, and it gets through the edge network, the receiving ISP can stop your email from getting to its intended recipient if you don't follow best practices.
Nowadays, most companies have firewall systems in place that may not let your email in (think of a firewall as a spam filter on top of a spam filter). And if you're sending to an individual's email, they may have their own personal filter software too.
So, if the ISP said it's okay to go through, what else could be stopping your emails from being delivered
The Accidental Blacklist
Getting blacklisted is no laughing matter and can happen innocently enough. If someone else using the same server as you sent lots of spam, the whole server can get blacklisted. That means that no emails going through that server will get delivered. So you're left scratching your head, wondering why some of your emails just aren't getting through.
If there are enough spam complaints about emails from you, or someone with your company's domain name, your URL or email address can be blacklisted (see figure 2). Once this happens, emails from you or anyone from your company will be blocked.
(Figure 2 - As Joe sends out emails from his personal email address, they pass through the outbound server, and the edge network. But as a result of complaints from AOL subscribers, Joe's emails will no longer get through to anyone with an AOL email address. They may get through fine to Yahoo or other email addresses, but in this example AOL has blacklisted Joe's server and will no longer deliver his emails to their customers)
The harsh reality is once you get blacklisted like this - whether or not it was you who caused the problem - it's very, very difficult to get whitelisted again. And you'll quickly find that not only are your marketing emails going nowhere, but since any email sent from your email address is getting blocked, your everyday communications with your clients and prospects will no longer get through. Just imagine trying to run your business without any emails getting through to clients. It could be devastating.
In severe instances, your entire URL can get shut down. So, Joe@mymailserver.com can get the whole site www.mymailserver.com shut down by accident.
Another reason emails get blocked could be because a filter scanning the text in your email found too many words that were too salesy. We'll get more into how to avoid this problem next.
So as you can see, when using email as a marketing tool, it's very important that you use a company that has strong, continuing relationships with as many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as possible, and sends your emails through servers that are not blacklisted. For example, eCampaignProTM stays up to date with new laws, keeps in constant contact with ISPs, and has a feedback loop with them to make sure all of its servers remain whitelisted.
- Now you have a basic understanding of how firewalls and filters work.
- And you know why using a reputable company to send out your emails is just good business practice.
But what can you do to get your email through those pesky filters that scan your text and also increase your chances of getting people to actually read your email?