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Paging Dr. Spam-Free #1.13

Paging Dr. Spam-Free!
Answering Your Embarrassing Questions About Spam

Question # 1.13: How do I keep my sales people from spamming?
The Doc Explains: “Soft Bounce”

Q: Dr. Spam Free, how do I keep my sales people from spamming? I want to encourage my employees to build up our company email list, where do I draw the line?

The Doctor Replies:

Given the chance, your salesmen will email everyone above the equator. Keep them in line or your domain will be blocked, and your reputation will be tarnished.

1. Keep your Do-Not-Mail list on a central server. Make sure every employee has access to it. Urge – nay – force your employees to compare lists, each and every time they deploy a campaign, or send a message to a new prospect. Also, make it easy for them to add people to the list.

2. Educate everyone. Make sure eager salespeople know that your company has a zero-tolerance policy. Also remind them that spamming is a felony, as is pulling emails off a web site, scanning trade show lists, and other forms of email harvesting.

3. Turn off the ability to mass-mail from the desktop. Every corporate email server has the ability to limit how many recipients can be “CCed,” on a mailing. There is no reason your salesman should be mailing more than 10-15 people at a time.

4. Show them a better way. Use an email service provider that offers customized templates for each salesperson. Give them access to a great tool, clean lists, and effective templates. You will turn compliance, into an advantage instead of a threat.

The Doc Explains: “Soft Bounce”

A soft bounce is an e-mail that returns to the sender as temporarily undeliverable, such as when a mailbox is full.

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Paging Dr. Spam-Free #1.10

Paging Dr. Spam-Free!
Answering Your Embarrassing Questions About Spam

Question #1.10: Have Email Brokers Gone Bad?
The Doc Explains: “Verified Sender”

Q: Dr. Spam-Free, How can I tell if my email list broker is on the up and up? How do I know if I’m being sold a spammy list?

The Doctor Replies . . .

Be extra careful every time you rent an email list. Con artists outnumber legitimate email brokers 10 to 1 — they are experts at duping legitimate marketers into renting spam lists. Remember: If you mail to a spam list (even accidentally) you are a spammer.

Follow these tips in order to avoid being blacklisted and embarrassed:

1. Always check the list agent’s contact information for accuracy. Legitimate brokers will have their mailing address and a list of executives on their website.

Always avoid companies with “contact us” forms and no other information regarding their location or phone number. Also be sure to check if their phone numbers coincide. If they are in Texas, but their phone number says Florida, something may be fishy.

2. Look up the ownership of their domain name. Legitimate companies always use their real corporate name and address when they buy a domain. Compare domain ownership to the contact info, for the people you’re talking to.

3. Talk to clients. Get in touch with former clients — never, ever trust a client list on the broker’s website. Most spammers will advertise a false list of clients including some of the biggest advertisers in the business.

4. Check up on their list source. Find out how they compiled their list and go to the sites. If you are directed to a sleazy contest or odd offer, the list isn’t something you want to be involved with. Ask questions. How did they acquire their mailing list? Do they keep current records of the date, time, and IP addresses for all of their subscriptions?

5. Trust yourself. If you’re feeling even slightly insecure about the broker or the deal, get out. Even one Spam mailing could completely ruin your reputation and irritate your customers.

Remember, not all list brokers are crooked; there are plenty of legitimate, highly regarded professionals.
You just have to do your homework.

The Doc Explains: “Verified Sender”

Verified Sender technology is a database that enables ISPs to confirm that the sender of an email is who they claim to be — and to stop spam that uses fake “from” addresses.

In the Doc’s Words:

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Paging Dr. Spam-Free #1.06

Paging Dr. Spam-Free!
Answering Your Embarrassing Questions About Spam

Question #1.06: Can I get a copy of complaints that are sent to ISPs?
The Doc Explains: “Spim”

Q: Dr. Spam-Free, I want to respond to people who report me as a spammer to the ISPs. Can I get notified when this happens? Can I get the text of complaints?

The Doctor Replies . . .

Yes, you can. The ISPs are increasingly willing to share this information to help mailers reduce the number of complaints.

We asked our buddy George Bilbery, of Return Path, ( what to do. George is the king of ISP relations for email marketers.

He says: “You can get complaints back from AOL. To do that you need to sign up for their whitelist program. You can start the process by calling their Postmaster hotline at 888-212-5537. Other than AOL, none of the major ISPs will provide you with complaint data, yet.”

George also suggests: (1) Register your abuse queue (where people should send complaints) with; (2) work with the ISP that hosts your mail server to make sure you get all complaints sent to them; and (3) register with SpamCop to receive “interested third party” spam reports.

Just as important, we recommend you make it as easy as possible for subscribers to complain directly to you. Include a feedback form on your web site. Make sure the reply address on messages goes to a real human being. Assign someone to check the mailbox every day and respond to messages.

Everyone who complains to you directly represents many more angry readers who are reporting you as a spammer to their ISP. The ISPs make it really easy to protest, and every complaint hurts your reputation.

You’re better off hearing — and resolving — complaints yourself. You need to understand the causes of the problem before you burn your relationships with valuable customers. Most angry people just want to vent a little, so respond nicely and they will be very happy.

Ignore problems and you’ll find yourself very unpopular with ISPs, spam filters — and former customers.

The Doc Explains: “Spim”

“Spim” is spam sent to instant messenger accounts. Expect to get a lot more of it soon.

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Paging Dr. Spam-Free #1.02

Paging Dr. Spam-Free!
Answering Your Embarrassing Questions About Spam

Question #1.02: Can I mail subscribers who don’t confirm a double opt-in request?
Junk Email Jargon: “Confirmed Opt-In”

Q: Dr. Spam-Free, our subscription process asks subscribers to confirm their subscription by clicking on a link in a confirmation email. Can we still send email to people who don’t click on the link?

The Doctor Replies . . .

A: Yep. Asking for a confirmed subscription (also called double opt-in) is a voluntary practice that a marketer can choose to use.

Assuming that recipient did complete a sign-up form and asked to be on the email list, they gave permission to you. A subscriber’s failure to confirm that subscription doesn’t erase the original permission.

Now, you need to be careful. Re-read the confirmation email and make sure it doesn’t say (or imply) that they will not be added if they don’t click. If you said that, then you’ve got to stick with it.

You also need to think beyond the technicalities and think about your relationship with subscribers:

– I wouldn’t mail to an old list of non-confirmers who would be surprised to get an email from you after a long delay.

– Ask why someone isn’t confirming, and decide if they are in fact rejecting your company. Do you have a tricky opt-in or an uninteresting list? If they have a reason to not confirm, don’t annoy them by sending email they don’t want.

Overall, ask yourself what role confirmed opt-in has in your email program. Only use it if you think it adds value, and stick with what you decide.

The Doc Explains: Confirmed Opt-In

After someone subscribes to an email list, they are sent and email message that asks them to click on a link that verifies the subscription.

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