XBiz’ own new_BEE returns with a look at the perils and pitfalls of running an e-mail campaign and some of the steps that you should take to protect yourself from the fallout of accusations involving the dreaded ‘S’ word…
If you are running a mailing list, you risk being branded as a spammer even if you never break the rules (rules that are bound to be broken) & really nasty things could happened to you. Often, your ISP will deny you access to your account pending an investigation; a similar reaction from your web hosting company may shut down your site (temporarily, I hope...).
Finally, you will be blacklisted: a sordid and often secret process whereby your email address is added to hundreds of confidential lists around the Internet. These lists are maintained by ISPs, cyber-vigilante groups and others, and a listing on one of these groups will guarantee that in future your email address will be cut off from some recipients (your email will be filtered automatically and thrown away before it arrives).
5 Tips to Survive Your Mailout
1. Always keep a backup copy of your website on your local PC (never make changes to your site by working on it remotely). Keep a piece of paper handy with full contact details (telephone, fax, email and snail-mail) for your ISP and web hosting company. Always keep a copy of all your outgoing email, especially the newsletter itself.
2. Don't include anyone on your mailing list (even friends, family, colleagues etc.) without their explicit permission. Make people work to sign up for your newsletter by requiring them to email a certain address with a "subscribe" instruction or by providing a newsletter sign-up box on your site for them to add their address to your list.
3. Don't surprise people! As an example if your current newsletter is about Adult Dating, Don’t even bother to broadcast on penis enlargement assuming that one looking for a date needs a big cock! Any way if you are willing to break the rules (MOST OF US DO) and you do get into trouble, call your ISP immediately and explain in a calm and polite manner (even if you want to rip the support person's head off and feed it to your dog) why your newsletter is not spam, and could you pretty please have your email account back. When I had problems once my ISP was so understanding (after reviewing a copy of the newsletter) that I am now on a special list of people who should NOT be cut off without prior consultation!
4. Give clear instructions about how to unsubscribe from your newsletter somewhere within the newsletter, perhaps in a separate section at the end along with your site's contact information. TEST the unsubscribe mechanism to be sure it actually works; nothing irritates people more than being unable to get off a mailing list even after following the instructions.
5. Avoid the use of ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, excessive use of "!" marks, then proofread and spell-check your newsletter well (when was the last time you saw well-written spam?) and above all DON'T say "This is not spam." as that's what all the spam messages say. Instead, explain WHY people are receiving the newsletter: "You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up at /www.url.com/signup.htm" (Make sure this is true i.e. if people go to the URL in question they really will find the sign-up form for your newsletter)
If you follow this simple advice, you should be able to run a straightforward email marketing campaign, and protect yourself, and your business, if you’re ever accused of spamming…