The Email Marketing Chronicles – The danger of “Do it yourself” Email Marketing

You have decided that you are going to try some new marketing, you have already gravitated from traditional marketing to SEO and SEM and even do a little PPC, but you want more, you want to try email marketing, you have been reading how great the response rates are, and it all makes sense, that many advertisements directly into the email box of thousands of people, the response rate should be exceptional.

At first sight it all really seems so simple, you found a legitimate company that has the email data that you are looking for, it is all double opt in and comes with the opt in information.  You are all set, so you take the data, which are about 25,000 records.  You have an email ad created and you are all set to go, you load the 25,000 records into the BCC field, type in a subject and push the button, and being that it’s just after five o’clock you call it a day and go home.

The next morning you come in to the office to find that you have no website and no email, you call your ISP (Internet Hosting Provider) and they tell you that they noticed an unusual amount of email has been sent, and you explain to them that you conducted an email marketing campaign but the data you used was all opt-in email.  They tell you that doesn’t matter that it is against their AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) for commercial emails to be sent out.  They agree to turn your hosting back on but require you to pay a fee of $500 and to agree to never do this again and that next time they will disconnect you permanently.

This may seem a little farfetched to you but this happens every day, and sometimes there is no second chance, sometimes the account is disconnected permanently on the first violation of the AUP depending on the level of tolerance of the particular ISP in question.

Even if this had not happened there are other issues that could have happened such as many ISP’s set the amount of email that can be sent at one time, some are at 100 at a time, others are at 25, and some have a daily limit, and once that limit is hit all outgoing email will be denied until the next day.

There is also the issue of the reputation of your IP address; see (http://www.techterms.com/definition/ipaddress) for definition of an IP and how it works. Sending out a lot of email, even opt in email will generate complaints; people forgot they opted in, email address changed and the person who received the email is no longer the person who opted in, etc.  Also the mail servers that process email from the domains that you are sending to will become suspicious when large amounts of email are coming from the same IP and will most likely block the email, both of these issues then get reported to “Blacklists”. Blacklists known as an RBL (Real Time Blacklists) are services that ISP’s and individual email users report spam, and suspicious activity to, most if not all major ISP’s subscribe to these blacklists and block any domain and IP that is listed on them.  Once you get on a blacklist it means many people will not be able to get to your website or receive your email.  Some of the major Blacklists are “The spamhaus Project” (http://www.spamhaus.org/)  Spamcop (www.spamcop.net) and it is very difficult to get off of one, and this can cause you major issues.  I once had a client that got on the Spamhaus list and it took them months and thousands of dollars in legal fees to finally get off.

The bottom line is you should not be using your server to send email, hire a professional email marketing company to do this.  It might cost you more, but that cost is miniscule compared to the cost of losing your hosting.

The Email Marketing Chronicles – Co-Registration Data

As a media company we are constantly explaining to new clients what “opt in” really means and specifically what co-registration opt in is and why it is okay to mail to it.  The word “opt in” itself has been the subject of intense debate among the online marketing world for quite a while, because there are various definitions of what is considered opt in.  In the simplest definition opt in is the email address of a person who has opted in to a mailing list and has given permission for a company to email them.

Let’s start by examining what co-registration is; it is a method used to collect user information on people; usually this would be a separate check-box on a Web signup form where the user can opt-in to receive messages from a third-party and/or partners. The area of debate is can you as a company purchase a list of co-registration data if the users did not opt in to your site specifically? I say yes you can, so long as when they opted in that it stated that they would receive offers from partners and other sites that may have offers that benefit them.  As long as this was made clear and they still opted in, then there is nothing wrong with purchasing and using this data.

One thing that you want to be really careful about however is make sure that you are purchasing from a legitimate company and that they are really selling you co registration data.  Make sure they are a reputable company, make sure the data comes with opt in source, time and IP address so that you can prove that they opted in.

Another thing that you want to be sure of, if you are mailing this yourself be sure that you know what your hosts Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) are.  It is likely that your host has a policy against this opt in or not, most hosts have a limited to how much email you can send out in one day or at one time. Sending mail at Constant Contact for example only allows mailing opt in that was specifically opted in to you, whereas Ad Mail allows co-registration data as long as you have the permission of the original list owner, but even Ad Mail is going to limit you to sending just a couple of hundred emails because as the list grows so do the problems, even in opt in lists.  If you are planning on sending more than a few hundred emails it is recommended that you use a professional email marketing company.