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.

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.

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.

Feedback Loop (FBL) Resources from M3AAWG

Industry group M3AAWG (the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group) just published an overview of what ISP Feedback Loops (FBLs) are and how they work. They've also included a comprehensive list of known ISP Feedback Loops. Click here to check them out.

Making it Easy to Unsubscribe (#1)


Found on the web: Gina Lofaro explains the user experience of finding it hard to unsubscribe. What galls me is that the list owner actually decided it was wise to argue the law with an angry subscriber. Knock that off! If she wants off the list, say OK, thank you, and it has been handled. She might not be a lawyer, but neither are you, and if you want to have any hope of selling her something ever again, maybe don't be snotty to her when she needed your help. And the subscriber is actually right -- that email SHOULD have had an unsubscribe link or option specified in the email message.

Love that e-card.

2015: The Year of DMARC?

Based on page views, here's what was most popular on Spam Resource throughout 2015. (I'm sensing a theme...)
  1. Ask Al: My email address is being used in spam! Email address forgery is still a big deal, as measured by the number of people finding their way to my blog based on searching for this topic.
  2. The kerfuffle around Yahoo's DMARC policy.
  3. Followed by how to deal with that DMARC-related kerfuffle, if you run a mailing list.
  4. Signing outbound list mail with OpenDKIM. I didn't think much about this one at the time, but it makes sense in the context of DMARC's effectively requiring that mailing list mail must be handled differently. I guess I'm not the only one who was wondering how to sign mailing list mail with DKIM authentication.
  5. Google Groups rewriting from addresses to handle DMARC policy. Lots of folks were curious to learn how Google Groups handled headers in this "new world order," after ISPs began to implement p=reject DMARC policies.
Of those top five posts, the only one not directly related to DMARC or DKIM still related to something that DMARC and DKIM work together to help address -- email forgery.

Does that mean 2015 was the year of DMARC? Maybe 2016 will end up being the real year of DMARC as more and more mail providers implement a DMARC policy. But it certainly was on peoples' minds in 2015. With multiple big mail services beginning to publish restrictive DMARC policies in 2014, people started to take notice of both DMARC and DKIM in 2015.