Monday, February 8, 2016

Contest Signups for Lead Generation: The Good and the Bad

Today's guest post is from deliverability professional Chris Truitt. Here's his take on the impact contest signups have on your deliverability and campaign success.

An ever more popular method of lead generation is through contest offerings. You may have seen such offers at your favorite retail stores or in shopping malls. A few times per year I stumble across a nice shiny new car that I can win. All I need to do is sign up with a valid email address and perhaps be open to receive a few sales calls. This strategy proves very effective to bring in leads, but there’s one problem. The dangling carrot of a new car or new smart phone instantly makes your email offering a byproduct. If you’re not emailing customers to tell them they won, interest in whatever you’re selling instantly diminishes. The ‘win a free ‘insert product here’’ will certainly bring in leads, just not necessarily leads that are interested in what you have to sell.

The astute marketer recognizes the futility of initiating a broad contest offer for the purposes of lead generation. A wide pool of prospects that are only interested in winning usually leaves you with a high number of spam complaints, bounces from contacts that enter fake addresses and little to no conversion rates. The result is your domain reputation took a hit from all of the complaints and bounces your content campaign rendered and your content is far more likely to land in the spam folder. This is not to say that marketers have abandoned this practice entirely. Instead, a more targeted approach has been adopted.

Instead of adopting such as wide approach, like an iPhone give away, offer something that you actually sell in the contest. Even better, make everyone that enters the contest a winner in some form or another. While you obviously can’t give everything away on the shelf, you should certainly have a single grand winner and offer the other contacts a discount for the same product or one that is similar. This is far more compelling and this strategy directly connects the prospects to the items you have stocked on the shelf. You are left with an engaged list of interested prospects that you can market to with your domain reputation intact.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What happened to McAfee and Postini?

Slashdot asked the other day, "Why Are Major Companies Exiting the Spam Filtering Business?" It sounds a bit like they're trying to take two events and define them together as a trend, but I don't think that holds up under scrutiny.

I guess they've got a point about MXLogic. MxLogic was purchased by McAfee in 2009. McAfee was bought up by Intel in 2010. And now Intel has announced that McAfee's Software-as-a-Service anti-spam solution will be shut down in January, 2017. They're recommending Proofpoint as an alternative solution. So they certainly seem to be saying bye-bye.

But they also talk about Postini. Google purchased Postini in 2007. They later announced that they were shutting down Postini, with users to be transitioned to Google Apps by sometime in 2015. This, to me, is somewhat less of a surprise -- I think it was obvious that Google purchased Postini to shore up its own anti-spam efforts, and I'm sure whatever Google felt was useful about Postini probably made its way into Gmail or Google Apps' own spam filtering functionality. So Postini didn't really disappear so much as become some tiny little hidden bit of Google.

Spam filtering still seems like a big, lucrative deal to me. It's certainly a selling point for Google Apps, and other B2B and B2C providers spend lots of money on perfecting spam filtering. Thus, I don't think that it's accurate to say that something must be up here, that "big companies are exiting the space," because it only really seems like Intel is the one saying they don't want to be a part of that space. What do you think, dear reader?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reference: Yahoo Email Domains

Sometimes it comes in handy to know all of the common domains associated with a given Internet Service Provider (ISP) or webmail provider.

I believe these are all of the most common email domains associated with Yahoo! Mail, according to what I can recall, with help from this Port25 forum post.

Yahoo Domains:
yahoo.com
ymail.com
rocketmail.com
yahoo.co.uk
yahoo.fr
yahoo.com.br
yahoo.co.in
yahoo.ca
yahoo.com.ar
yahoo.com.cn
yahoo.com.mx
yahoo.co.kr
yahoo.co.nz
yahoo.com.hk
yahoo.com.sg
yahoo.es
yahoo.gr
yahoo.de
yahoo.com.ph
yahoo.com.tw
yahoo.dk
yahoo.ie
yahoo.it
yahoo.se
yahoo.com.au
yahoo.co.id

Anybody got any others that I've missed? Feel free to share in comments and I'll update this list.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reference: AOL Email Domains

Sometimes it comes in handy to know all of the common domains associated with a given Internet Service Provider (ISP) or webmail provider.

I believe these are all of the common email domains associated with AOL Mail, according to what I can recall, with a few more found on the AOL Mail Wikipedia page.

AOL Domains:
aim.com
aol.com
aol.co.uk
aol.de
aol.fr
aol.com.au
aol.com.mx
aol.com.ar
cs.com
compuserve.com
love.com
games.com
wmconnect.com
wow.com
ygm.com

Anybody got any others that I've missed? Feel free to share in comments and I'll update this list.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Checking Email Content with SpamAssassin

Initially created by Justin Mason in 2001, the open-source SpamAssassin spam filter is pretty widely used. It's not in use directly at the top tier of ISPs like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail, but it does seem to be used by various second and third tier providers, B2B sites, hobbyists and educational institutions. And even though this filter isn't exactly the same as the filters in use at, say, Gmail, there's likely some truth to the theory that "what SpamAssassin suggests may be spammy, other filters may find spammy as well." Great minds think alike, to some degree, the theory goes. Thus, some folks find SpamAssassin to be a valuable tool to check to get some idea if their email messages might be considered spammy.

Want to check your email against SpamAssassin? Postmark has this tool where you can copy-and-paste your message headers and content, or use an API call, to check a message against the SpamAssassin filter. SpamScoreChecker.com will give you an address to send an email message to, and then allows you to click through to see the scoring results. IsNotSpam.com is another tool that works similarly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

10 Simple List-Building Tips

Here are ten simple list building tests that I keep in my pocket, to share with folks when they ask. Some are better than others, but most of them are easy, no-brainer things that anybody running a site trying to build a list of subscribers should be doing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Making it Easy to Unsubscribe (#2)

Back in my e-commerce days, we used to use this "one weird trick" to help reduce spam complaint rates: We put a prominent "click here to unsubscribe" link at the top of the email message. No need to scroll down to the footer to unsubscribe. What happened? Spam complaints went down, unsubscribes went up a little, then down over time.

In this context, that was a very good thing. These were emails sent to people who signed up via a double opt-in (confirmed opt-in) process, a free trial software download registration. A lot of them just wanted the free product and were quick to complain about the mail they received as a result. Even though it was double opt-in, even though it was clearly spelled out at the point of capture.

Of course, an easy unsubscribe is NOT a substitute for permission. You can't just buy some list and start mailing it and say "but it's easy for people to unsubscribe." That's the kind of thing that'll get you blacklisted by Spamhaus or get your ESP account terminated for violating ISP and ESP permission requirements.

But if you make it as easy to unsubscribe as it is to hit "report spam," you're likely to get a net positive impact to your sending reputation.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Does anyone at AT&T netops read Spam Resource?

That's a novel way to request unblocking: Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow recently posted a request for an AT&T representative to help assist with getting his mail server unblocked.