Q&A on Constant Contact: Text Version and Spam Filters

This is part two of the ongoing question and answer series. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, send me an email at josh@thehatchergroup.com and I’ll do my best to answer it here.

Question:

We use the Constant Contact email service, and the text doesn’t transmit very readably on mobile phones or blackberries. We also have a problem with spam filters blocking us – I’ve learned to request that our URL and Constant Contact’s URL be put on recipients’ White Lists when this happens.

I’m curious if you have any hot tips about these issues.

Answer:

1) Text version in Constant Contact
Try this:

“Wait until you have completed all edits to your HTML version.

On the left hand side, click on “Advanced Features” then select “Edit Text Version.”

Once you do this, it becomes a “customized” text version, and will no longer stay in synchronization with the HTML version, which is why I recommend you do this as the last thing.”

2) Messages blocked as spam with Constant Contact

There are a few things that could be causing this. Has there been a spike recently or is the # just steadily growing over time? If it was a big spike, there may be a problem (i.e. people marking your emails as spam, blocked by an email service), in which case we’ll have to re-evaluate. Otherwise it is very likely one of the problems mentioned below, such as normal list churn, de facto unsubscribes, full inboxes, etc.

In the meantime, here is what Constant Contact has to say about it.

Why so many bounces and what can you do about them?

Email address churn in your house list
People change ISPs, jobs and email addresses at random. Often you’ll be the last to know. Some email address churn is normal, but the erosion of your house list can make a seriously negative impact on your bottom line.

What can you do?
Check with sales, support or someone on the front line in your company, and follow up by phone or by snail mail to recapture valuable customers and prospects.

In addition to your unsubscribe or edit interests link in your email, consider adding a note saying, “If you plan to change email addresses, or if you prefer to receive this newsletter at another address, please email us.”

Remember, it is 7 times less expensive to market to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. The effort will be well worth your time.

The use of free email accounts
Many people who use free email accounts do so as a secondary mailbox. As a result, they do not check their mailbox often. Free email accounts, and some paid accounts, can hold only a limited amount of email, so many times newsletters and advertising email will bounce back as undeliverable.

What can you do?
You can try the same techniques as above and, assuming you have the recipient’s permission, you could use snail mail to obtain their new email address. Try sending a postcard asking them to revisit your site to update their profile. The postcard should include a URL leading to the profile update area of your site.

Spam filters and blocking
ISPs and corporations are paying close attention to incoming email in the effort to block spam, or unsolicited email. Anti-spam filters scan email from and subject lines as well as email body copy for certain language. They can also detect mailing patterns, frequency and volume. Your legitimate, permission-based email could be bounced back to you by a spam filter, or your mail server might be flagged as a potential spam source. In either case, your messages won’t make it through.

What can you do?
Use an email marketing service with a strong permission policy and an active anti-blocking team. Don’t go it alone. Solid email marketing companies develop relationships with ISPs to be sure their customers’ permission-based email gets through. A good email marketing service gets more attention than you could ever get on your own.

Ask your readers to help. If your email is being blocked at a particular company or ISP, ask devoted customers/readers to contact their postmaster and request to have your email “un-blocked.”

And then…?

Analyze your bouncebacks
You should be using an email marketing service that categorizes bouncebacks and provides detailed reports that allow you to view and manage bounced email addresses. Take the time to analyze your bouncebacks and remove hard bounces from your list. It should also be easy to correct obvious typos in your list (e.g. “.con” instead of “.com”).

Monitor your “reply to:” address
Many recipients are fearful of using the unsubscribe function as it has been used by spammers to verify an address, rather than as a legitimate unsubscribe function. So, be alert to unsubscribe requests coming to your “reply to:” address and permanently remove those email addresses right away.

Finally, pay attention to email address change requests coming to your “reply to:” address and honor those in a timely manner as well.

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