Blog Updated

I have added some links down the right hand side to Sugar Projects, project tasks and other cases which I am doing for the white list - please feel free to browser them - that is where all the details are.
As you will see there also some AOL stats in a post below.
some of you may have noticed that customers can no longer download or export large lists - limited to a certain number of rows in each part.
If anyone knows the exact number for List export, filtered list (bounces, opt-outs etc) and reports(clicks, opened, bounced etc.) put it in a comment


Been on the phone again and they will getting beck to me tomorrow by email hopefully

AOL email concerns for Week Beg 25-03-2007

*Complaint rate: 1.46% :: 01/04/2007 :: Sunday

*Complaint rate: 0.82% :: 31/03/2007 :: Saturday

*Complaint rate: 0.70% :: 30/03/2007 :: Friday

*Complaint rate: 0.29% :: 29/03/2007 :: Thursday

*Complaint rate: 0.45% :: 28/03/2007 :: Wednesday

*Complaint rate: 0.70% :: 27/03/2007 :: Tuesday

*Complaint rate: 25.00% :: 26/03/2007 :: Monday

*Complaint rate: 50.00% :: 25/03/2007 :: Sunday

More AOL

We have found that they are now Blocking three of our servers - we are considering stopping those servers from sending over the weekend as that is when most of the B2C go out.
I am only thinking this way becuase our AOL rep on a Sunday and Monday morning is worse than any other day in the week.
This has not been decided yet though!

Email issues to AOL

I can now confirm that all of our servers ...
(apart from one - cos of a typo by AOL - but it is not a sending server anyway)
... are on the AOL feedback loop;
We may still get some gloom in the short term (hopefully only 48 hours) but we should see it lighten up as the week goes on

We may not apply for the whitelist again on the newer servers until we can improve our reputation
within AOL, through the feedback loop - this normally takes about a week.
I will try to get it done in time for the weekend B2C rush!

--  Captain Inbox 
-------- Original Message --------
Changed your feedback loops as per request.
Thanks, Mohammed Ahmed Postmaster / Data Analyst America Online.
Unable to email to sent it to
always enter ticket # in subject line please.

Mon, 26 Mar 2007 04:10:15 -0400
== You are receiving this email due to a request for a Feedback Loop Update at ==

The following configurations are setup for the email address:

For more information or to change your FBL configuration please call the AOL Postmaster Helpdesk at
1-888-212-5537 or 1-703-265-4670.

Thank You,
AOL Postmaster

AOL IP replacement FBL

Been on the phone to AOL again,
they are all muppets,

They buggered up the IP replacement again (3rd time in 2 weeks)
I have been assured that this time they will get it right,
but it will take around 48 to do, so we can all look forward to crap b2c stats on Monday morning
--  Captain Inbox  *Eater of Spam*

Email Delivery Tips from EmailReach

These are the three main hurdles to delivery

1. Your Email Reputation

2. Content Filters

3. Actual Inbox Delivery

Let's quickly review the basics of each of these to get you started.....

1.Your Email Reputation

“You’ve been blacklisted.” Words that strike fear into the heart of any email marketer.

What Does this Mean?

Basically your sending IP address has been listed by a popular blacklist as likely to send Spam and therefore they have listed your email address on their “blacklist.” Once this occurs mail administrators and individuals that use this list as an IP block list will not take receipt of your email, send it to a junk folder or delete it altogether.

Who Manages these Blacklists and why do they think I send Spam when we are fully Can Spam Compliant?

Spam like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If an independent group thinks that your message has some “spammy” characteristics they may or may not add you to their list. A number of the blacklists select with an algorithm that is independent of human selection. The bottom line is selection can be arbitrary and every legitimate marketer should be aware of this potential delivery rate pitfall.

What are the main Blacklists?

There are hundreds of blacklists out there, however there are 10 or so that are used the most by mail administrators.

1. Open Relay Database

2. Spam and Open Relay Blocking System

3. Spam Prevention Early Warning System

4. Vipul’s Razor

5. Pyzor

6. Distributed Checksum Clearinghouse

7. Spamhaus

8. SpamCop Blocking List


10. SpamFire

Each of these uses a slightly different technology to identify spam; it’s a very useful way for diligent mail administrators to control incoming email.

What do I do If I think I am Blacklisted?

Once confirmed that you have been wrongly assigned as spam there are number of things you can do. We strongly recommend you working to understand what characteristic caused you to be listed, and working to remove this trait from your campaigns. Typical issues are incorrect mail administrator settings, using a non-dedicated deployment machine, sending large volumes of mail in short periods. Once this is corrected reach out to the blacklist and request to be whitelisted. This often is easier if a third party request on your behalf. Whitelisting takes time far better to avoid blacklists in the first place.

2. Content Filters

Probably the most misunderstood area of email delivery filters are the numerous filters that mail administrators and individuals use to review email content prior to delivery. Inexperienced email marketers think that by making sure they avoid a number of key trigger words and obey a few simple rules they are good to go. One example we hear all the time, "don't use the word free in the subject line". Unfortunately it's not that simple, the filters that are being used have underlying logic that looks way beyond the subject line when assessing a message.

Here is a shortlist of the main content filters
  • Norton AntiSpam
  • McAfee Spamkiller
  • Lyris MailShield
  • Spam Assassin
How do they work?

These filters work on a number of different levels all that look for suspicious, code or content that has high spam characteristics. Spam Assassin for example tests obvious spammer tricks, such as misspelling potentially offensive words and forging domains or dates. Other tests seem innocuous but could cost you, such as "g a p p y t e x t" (0.5 points), and the subject or body IN ALL CAPS (0.3 points).
Below is a sample list of 5 tests (the point values vary depending on how the end user configures Spam Assassin):
The subject line is all capital letters. Score: 0.459 to 1.049. The message date is 12 to 24 hours before the receive date: 0.881 to 1.247.
The domain in the sender line doesn't match the domain in the "received" line in the headers: 0.217 to 2.127.
The message has bad MIME encoding in the header: 2.255 to 3.100.
The message is 90 percent to 100 percent HTML: 0.113 to 0.587.

How to avoid Content filters?

There are a number of basic steps that we recommend to all email marketers before they even start to tweak specific content filter issues.
1) Correct all basic HTML coding errors. Make sure all your tags are correctly placed and are fully compliant.
2) Create a template that scores low and continue to use it. Use an HTML validator to create this template.
3) Learn to see your message as a content filter does, header, subject main body. Make sure each of these is correct. Message headers are in particular are commonly full of problematic elements including mime errors and date and time inconsistencies.
4) Test your content, fix and then retest. We recommend a score below 5 on Spam Assassin. If delivery is vital lower this threshold to 4.
5) Improving your email reputation score will raise your ability to pass these these tests.

3.Inbox Monitor

We’ve discussed your email reputation and content filtering; let’s spend some time looking at where the rubber hits the road for email delivery: the ISP inbox.

Let’s be very clear about this for consumer facing campaigns there are 4 major ISP’s that manage the majority of consumer inboxes.

  • MSN/Hotmail
  • Yahoo Mail
  • AIM Mail
  • Gmail
What Does this Mean?

Basically unless each of these mail platforms relays your message to the primary folder, your email campaign is far from optimized.

What Causes mail to be delivered to a bulk/spam Folder?

All of these ISP’s allow their users to report spam with a “report spam” button. The ISP uses this feedback to create a profile for your mail. If users are reporting your mail as spam you will run into problems. AOL recommends keeping spam complaints below 1-3 percent of traffic, depending on volume. This figure is unique to AOL's user base; it's too generous when applied as a general standard. Be at or below the range of one complaint per 6,000 to 8,000 messages, or 0.013 percent.

Minimize Complaints

Minimizing complaints always starts with practices used to collect e-mail addresses. It should be obvious by now sending unsolicited e-mail only gets you in trouble. Mailing lists with the lowest complaint rates are either confirmed opt-in or properly managed single opt-in. If you have a solid permission-based list but still find incoming complaints are higher than the optimal rate or are rising, consider the following:

  • Brand your subject lines. Mail systems with spam complaint buttons offer it at the inbox level. A recipient needs only to scan subject lines and decide which messages not to delete immediately. A subject line such as "Exciting offers for you, Bob!" will surely be marked as spam. Consider using your company or newsletter name in brackets at the beginning of your subject lines.
  • Consider including unsubscribe instructions at the top of your e-mail, in addition to the footer. Some users use the "report spam" button as an unsubscribe method and won't scroll through an entire message to find that link.
  • Include instructions for users to whitelist your domain. This prevents a user-based filter from mistaking your message for spam and either diverting it to the spam folder or prefixing "[SPAM]" to the subject of the message.
  • Provide a preference update page. Disclose how your organization will use a subscriber's e-mail addresses, and how often. Allow subscribers to select preferences on the opt-in form, and link from e-mail to a preference or profile update page.
  • Avoid spammy looking content. Try not to use garish, bold fonts; large, red letters, and the like. Avoid images with poor compression quality. A clean, readable design isn't as likely to be mistaken for spam.
  • Don't over e-mail. If recipients expect to receive a few informational e-mail messages each month from your company, don't suddenly start sending two or three each week.
  • Don't send unexpected e-mail. If subscribers opted in to receive your "Trends & Tips" newsletter, don't send them your hard-sell e-commerce messages, unless they clearly requested them.
  • Include opt-in information. If possible, add to your e-mail admin area information, such as the subscriber's e-mail address, date of opt-in, and how she potentially subscribed (product registration, white paper download form, sweepstakes entry, etc). With many subscribers receiving dozens of commercial e-mail messages daily, it's easy to forget signing up for your newsletter -- and then to file a complaint.

Spamhaus Unblock

Myself and the legend of Hla have been on the phone with Exalia and Rackspace (Mark dealt with Rackspace),
and we can confirm that Spamhaus has lifted the blocks on our webserver and our sending server:
Sending Server :: Web server :: Webserver

During this we had to ask one of our agencies to drop one of their customers as it was they who were spamming.
Apparently this particular sender has been caught by spamhaus before. I spoke to them directly and they claimed that it was all COI - as they had telesales people research it and could prove it.

Rackspace - in America - asked for this proof. The sender emailed us a legal letter from their loyers stating that they have broken no law and could by EU law sue them. The sender was most likely to have been lying about proving it and this, blatently, would not cut-it so we kicked them out.
It was most likely that through their illegal, non-optin data collection process, they picked up an email address which was not a real email addres - it was infact a - SPAM TRAP !!!
so emailing this spam trap address would have casued an automated Spamhaus FBL system wide block. which is what happend to the customer's mask, the sending server IP - then and the webserver IP.

These blocks did get us bounced everywhere, some bounced hard or sotf, some just redirected to a global spam folder in a corporate email system, so we did not even know about it!

Call it a lesson accross the board!!!!

Hotmail feedback loop

Hotmail are horrifically and insultingly poor with their feedback loop system and process.

we have applied nearly 10 times for Pure and the Unlimited customers but we have only had one reply and that was broken.

We have recently got a Pure one and a Clubzoom one which may work???
we don;t know - Even the Hla was invonvenienced by the ambiguity of it all!!!

AOL Whitelist block - 23-03-2007

We are still currently experiencing bounces from AOL - this is afult of thie rown which they appear not to be in a hurry about.

when we altered our servers, I went though the process of adding our new servers to the list and requested that the new list replace the old list, this was ignored
So we had many servers on our whitelist and FBL which we were not using & some were being used by clubzoom. we could not auto-opt-out the clucbzoom feedback emails cos the pure feedback is only setup for the Pure shared servers.

I have been on the phone many times to AOL and the said that they cleared up the problem and all I have to do is re-apply for the fbl then whitelist. I should be able to confirm this by the end of Friday 23-03-2007 - but they do say - if they are busy it may take longer than 48 hours.

Response Rate

This week, ExactTarget released their 2005 Response Rate Study that summarized open, click-through and unsubscribe rates.

The results of their study?

Even though Tuesdays are the highest volume of sending emails day, Friday is the day with the highest OPEN RATES...even though SUNDAY is the best day for CLICK-THROUGH RATES (CTR).

First, does this matter?

Their reasoning is that there is less competition for your emails on Fridays...thus, the highest open rate of any day... but, if you read into the study further, you'll find Friday was the highest open rate day by only .6% with Thursdays being the #2 day for email open rates. This is not a statistically significant difference to make any conclusions.

Subject lines from EmailUniverse

A recent subject line research article by Return Path identified that "click-through rates (CTR) for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more." - Source

Ok, before you go subject line chopping to drive your total character length to 49 characters or less, know that a short subject line alone won't guarantee you success. You'll have to test subject line response rates just like everyone else to truly determine what works for your list and niche.

Most email clients cut off the subject line length at 55-63 characters and yes, spaces do count as does subject line header info (such as: [Ezine-Tips] takes up 12 characters before I even begin to write my subject line ).

Click through for the rest...

Privacy Protection Statements

Here are some example phrases that are in bad form:

"Because we hate spam as much as you do!"

"We hate spam as much as you do! We never sell or disclose your name or e-mail address to third parties. For more information, please see our privacy policy."

Why is this bad form?

Whatever you are FOR;
Strengthens YOU.
Whatever you are AGAINST;
Weakens YOU.

"Hating Spam" puts you against something. Being for privacy protection strengthens your position.

Click through for more.....

What Should Ezine Publishers Do To Be More Preview-Pane Friendly?

  1. Redesign your email newsletter template to put the highest value text links near the top and move the images (which might be blocked anyway) below the fold. While I'm sure your HTML ezine header is pretty, this is about getting results.
  2. Give the top 4 inches (10 centimeters) of your ezine a very close inspection. This may be all that your email members see before tossing your email. Lose idle chit-chat or low-value content in this space and replace with the highest value information or a link to that information.
From emailuniverse

Fasle Positives from the Ezine blog and Lyris

False Positive filtering in the USA vs. Europe:

European ISPs achieved a rate of only .075 percent compared against the USA average of 3.29 percent. This is due to excessive false-positive filtering at (2) ISPs (Compuserve and iWon) and the fact that USA ISPs are more strict with their filtering of spam which results in a splattering of legitimate emails also being filtered wrongly.

Ezone Blog - Protect Your Brand - the from address

Newbies who start publishing an email newsletter will put their personal email address and name as the FROM: field.

This is a huge mistake for many reasons:

1) If your members filter your email newsletter to read later, they often will filter based on the FROM: field and that means any personal emails you send to your user/client base will be filtered into a box that may never be seen again.

This point is the major point of today's Ezine-Tips because you dilute your power by training your members to not be able to differentiate the emails you send to them that are part of the newsletter versus personal emails or business relationship/transactional emails.

2) You are missing a branding opportunity. In AOL and other email clients, the name field portion of the email address is not displayed and only the name before the @ symbol is displayed.

Which email FROM: field address do you think builds my brand better? chris@ or ezine-tips@ ? If you guessed ezine-tips@, you win.

3) If you want to achieve efficiencies with your ezine management, you'll need to trap your bounce-backs or replies that go above and beyond what your email list server is managing for you.

By separating your personal FROM: field from your ezine FROM: field, you allow yourself the opportunity to filter and manage your ezine more efficiently.

Top 10 email tips from IntelliContact

Top 10 email tips - ripped from IntelliContact on the StartupNation Email Blog.
10-6, 5-1
#10 Build Your List at Every Opportunity
Build your list at every opportunity you have. If you have a retail location, add a point-of-sale sign up form. At conferences or events, ask everyone you speak with if you may add them to your list after you exchange business cards. Finally, add your newsletter sign-up form to every page on your web site. You can even use the sign-up form generator within IntelliContact to automatically generate the code you need.

#9 Avoid Excess Punctuation or Capitalization
Don't use ALL CAPS or multiple exclamation marks within your subject line or body. Doing this will trigger spam filters.

#8 Include both Plain Text and HTML
Be sure to include both a plain text and an HTML version of your newsletter. IntelliContact will automatically detect which subscribers can view the HTML message and which can only see the plain text message. If you don't include a plain text message, around 5% of your recipients will see a message with nothing in it.

#7 Familiarity Encourages Opens
Make the From Name for your messages either your company name or the name of a person at your company. Once you choose a From Name, keep it consistent. During the split second decision subscribers make whether to open your email, the most important factor in their decision is whether the From Name is familiar to them.

#6 Add a Note about Deliverability
To improve message deliverability, add a message at the top of your emails that says something like: "To ensure receipt of our emails, please add to your Address Book."

#5 Be consistent with your sending frequency. Pick a schedule, whether it is weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly and as often as you can stick to that schedule. This way, your customers will come to expect and anticipate your company's communications.

#4 Timing is key with Business to Business Communication -- In most cases it is best to send business to business emails Tuesday through Thursday. We've found that the best times of the day to send are just after the start of the day around 9:30am or just after lunch around 1:30pm. It is best to avoid sending business to business emails after 4:00pm or on weekends.

#3 Timing is key with Business to Consumer Communication -- In most cases it is best to send business to consumer emails either between 5:00pm and 8:00pm Tuesday through Thursday or between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.

#2 Only include content relevant to the type of content the person has requested. As long as one provides value--whether by providing content on a topic a recipient is interested in or a discount off a product related to one purchased previously—-people will allow you to continue to contact them.

#1 Only send emails to persons who have requested to receive them. Unsolicited email is, of course, called spam. Sending spam will ruin any legitimate organization's reputation and brand value startlingly quickly. Rule number one of becoming an intelligent email marketer is to never send unsolicited email.

It's all common sense really

Return Path research

This is a study by return path - thought it migh be of some use
Click here to download the pdf

Maxemail - Emulator

This was originally an email from "Leisure Path" to Faith who were sitting between us and Maxemail, Marc had some good information on Maxemail from Masa's dealings with them who handed all of their information back to Marc.
Nick Kimberley wrote:

morning Faith,

well as Pure I am also in the middle of a trial with Maxemail.

In Maxemail it appears I am able to test various ISP's in terms of how
email will be delivered. Please see below:

Has Pure any option like this?

Also, Maxemail say they can deliver up to 500,000 emails per hour - please can you tell me how many Pure can deliver.

Many thanks,
Marc's reply

This is email preview tool, it is next on the development list, in the meantime he can go to and get the same for a very minimal fee. He has to realise that these are EMULATORS, they are not the real thing so you can't guarantee that just because it looks ok in their system that it will look ok in the persons inbox.

Maxemail can send 500k a hour when no one else is sending, we can do 2m if no one else is sending, the point is that there is always someone else sending, if he is worried about delivery speed you should put him on guaranteed bandwidth.

Also this is a mail I got from Paul at Masa after he heard their pitch - check out the costs per email, we are way cheaper.- If you want he will talk to Nick and tell him how great we are.

They have also probably showed him this:

You type in IP's an it tells you what their score is out of 100 which is supposed to give an indication of deliverbility, they type in their own IP's that have 95%

But senderscore exists to make money out of people who want to improve their delivery rates, so it is in their interests to show that people who don't use their service have a poor score:



Bad one:

Good one:

Court victory for man who took on spammers

A man who won damages of £750 after he was sent a single unsolicited email urged other people yesterday to "take the spammers to court".

Gordon Dick launched a civil case against an internet company after it sent him an unwanted email on an address that was known only to one company.

It is the first time that a court in Britain has awarded compensation to an individual complaining about spam, which accounts for three quarters of all emails sent in Britain.