07.21.10

Spam-Free Email List Management

Most importantly, the system is a double opt-in system. By definition, this system does not automatically subscribe individuals. When an individual chooses to subscribe, the system sends a confirmation email to the subscriber. The individual does not officially become a subscriber until he confirms the subscription. The importance of this process is its compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Instituted in January of 2004, the CAN-SPAM law requires that all commercial email conform to the following regulations:
  • Bans false or misleading header information
  • Prohibits deceptive subject lines
  • Requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method
  • Requires that commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender's valid physical postal address
Also, the company’s physical address must appear on every email. The purpose of the CAN-SPAM regulations is to eliminate non-legitimate solicitation. For more information on the CAN-SPAM Act, visit the Federal Trade Commission.

To begin managing your system, go to an email list and generate a .csv file or click on generate a list. When the list appears, it will indicate the number of members and the number of subscribers for that particular list. The difference in the totals is the number of bad emails and pending emails. The subscribers are the individuals who have confirmed and are receiving your emails. The members are the individuals are or have ever been on the list and includes the bad and pending emails.

Bad Addresses
While viewing the email lists, the number of bounces for a particular email address will appear and will be highlighted. Click on each one to reveal the message that caused the bounce. Ideally the message will provide a specific reason, but in some cases, it will just say, “Recipient rejected.” Their information can be manually updated using the “edit member” function. Each time the system sends out mail, it tries to send it out 3 times. After the first attempt, the system will gather all of the bounces and send those addresses another email 12 hours later. The addresses that bounce back after the second attempt will be sent a third email another 12 hours later. When the next email is sent out, the system will once again try to send the email three times. However, if the bad addresses have bounced three times and are now bouncing again, after the second attempt, the system will automatically turn the address to the label “bad” and stop sending emails to that address. An address will not become “bad” until it has bounced five times over two different campaigns over a 48-hour period. These addresses will still be in the system; they will just be labeled “bad.”

To remedy the bad addresses, sort the list by status. This will group all of the bad addresses. Scan the list for any in which you immediately recognize the issue. For example, one of the email addresses may contain a spelling error. Click on that email address, edit it with the correct spelling, then check subscribe and update member info. In this one step, the bad address is eliminated and the updated address is added to the subscription. In some cases, the bad address will be the result of an entity no longer existing. At this point, determine if it is important for the person to continue receiving the information being distributed. If so, obtain an updated email address and edit the entry accordingly. If there is no reason to keep them on the list, simply delete them.

Pending Addresses
To remedy the pending addresses, create a new list, title it “pending members” and choose “No” in the publish field. Click “search members” and search by pending, leaving all other criteria blank. Once the search is complete, select all and move to the “pending members” list. For multiple subscription lists, go in and repeat this process for each one of them. Some important things to note are that this process is not moving the individuals, but simply copying them into the new list. Also, the numbers will be lower for this new list because duplicates caused by the same people being on multiple lists are being eliminated so that only one entry is being added to the new list. Once all of the pending addresses from all the subscription lists have been added to the new list, simply create an email letting these individuals know that they should have received an email asking them to confirm their subscription and that they never confirmed. Then, give them the option to simply reply to this new email if they are still interested in subscribing to the list. Since the same email cannot be sent to individuals more than once and since it would be troublesome to ask these individuals to try to locate the original confirmation email, this will provide a simple, quick solution to eliminating your pending addresses. Upon receiving their reply, go into the pending members list, select them and click subscribe to the lists they want to be subscribed to.

By performing these two processes once a month, the amount of bad members and pending members will be kept down and your system will move quicker and easier.

Eventually, some individuals will unsubscribe from the lists. When this happens, it is best to leave them in the database. If they call wanting to know why they aren’t receiving the emails anymore, their information will still be in the database and they can once again be subscribed to the list with just the click of a button. I want more news