While I'm off at the last of the three conferences in four weeks (actually I'm running the Boulder Business Retreat), I thought I'd share this little example of what not to do with your email marketing. I should be back more regularly next week; I hope you've missed me as much as I've missed you! Today's shining example of a company that just doesn't get it is AmericaRX.com.
Challenge response systems have been around long enough now that pretty much everybody has an opinion on them. The end users who use challenge response systems seem to love them. But legitimate email senders often never respond to challenges, and so the end users are actually missing out on a lot of wanted email.
We've talked in the past about why address book importing is just not ok. But in addition to the fact that it trains people to enter their passwords at third-party sites, and to the fact that when you send out all those invitations it makes you look like a spammer, there's another big reason to not do address book importing.
We got the following in the mail this week from United Airlines: "Watch your email during the week at August 11 to receive a valuable limited-time offer from United for international travel this fall." Something has gone horribly wrong when in order for an email marketing campaign to be effective, you first have to send your customers something via the post office to alert them to watch their inbox.
You may or may not have heard the furor over Spamza - the website where anybody can enter any email address, and have that email address instantly signed up for hundreds of newsletter mailing lists. Of course, everybody is very upset because this site facilitates people getting spammed. BUT, there is also a very important lesson here for email marketers, newsletter publishers, and just about any other email sender who maintains a mailing list.
One of the most frustrating things for commercial and volume email senders is that different ISPs have different standards for what they require in order to ensure that your email gets delivered. On top of that, many ISPs don't seem to adhere to the agreed industry standards in terms of how their receiving mail servers interact with the sending mail servers - for example five different ISPs may use five different SMTP error codes when they bounce an email because the email address doesn't exist, even though people believe there to be one generally accepted code for that situation (along the lines of "550 user unknown").
Address book importing. Odds are good that if you aren't doing it, you are either thinking about doing it, or you know someone who is doing it or thinking about doing it. Because, you see, it's all the rage. It's also an awful practice.
What do a spammer and two legitimate email marketers have in common? They all had their brand new IP addresses blocked as soon as they started using them. And you can too. Here's how.
CAN-SPAM requires that you include your physical mailing address in each and every bulk mailing such as an email newsletter or other mail to a mailing list. For some reason this requirement confuses people - maybe because it's so straight-forward, and people are used to complex, convoluted, and contradictory (the Three Cs of legislative drafting!) language when it comes to the law.