How to Avoid Spam Traps, Honey Pots and Malformed Addresses

Email Spam Traps and How to Avoid Them

There’s a battle being waged just beyond your inbox. You can’t hear it, and you can rarely see it. It is a battle to the death against spam. It’s ISPs vs spammers, with some anti-spam “entities” like Spamhaus thrown in as covert forces.

You, me, and anyone who uses email to run their business sometimes gets drawn into the crossfire of these forces. And – let’s face it – a few of us might even inadvertently do spammer-like things. Sometimes, we get caught. Spam traps are one of the most common ways to get caught, and are also one of the finest tools ever created for catching spammers.

Before we get too much further, let’s give you a more specific definition of a spam trap.

A spam trap is an inactive email address set up by an ISP or an anti-spam entity for the sole purpose of receiving unrequested emails, aka spam emails.

One triggered spam trap can kill an email list's profitability

One bad apple can definitely spoil a list.

There are several types of spam traps. Here’s how to identify them, and which list management sins can trigger them.

1) The recycled spam trap.

This is an email address that was once used in a normal way, by a real person who was getting legitimate emails. Then one day that person left – they either stopped logging into their email account or they closed the account. After an extended period of inactivity, like 18 months, their ISP (for example: Yahoo, Gmail) decided to reactivate their email address, but now as a spam trap. So if anyone mails to that email address, they’ll trigger the trap.

The recycled spam traps teach an important lesson: Clean your list regularly. “Regularly” would be at least once a year, and possibly every six months, though some email experts think cleaning lists every six months is too frequent. We’ll leave that for the experts to debate, but it’s clear that an annual purge of inactive names is a safe and recommended practice. Not only will you have gotten rid of people who have “emotionally unsubscribed”, but you’ll also keep yourself out of range of recycled spam traps.

Word to the Wise blogger and email deliverability expert Laura Atkins (https://wordtothewise.com/author/laura/) views all spam traps, and all the issues they create as merely symptoms of a mismanaged list. Her diagnosis rings true in many ways, and can easily be applied to recycled spam traps. Basically, if you’re triggering recycled spam traps, you need to clean your list, or, in the lingo of email marketers, practice better “list hygiene”.

2) The honey pot.

honey pots are a kind of email spam trapThis is not the sort of honey pot Winnie the Pooh loves. In fact, if he were an email marketer, this honey pot would give Winnie a very sour mouthful. In this context, honey pots are email addresses that ISPs, or (more typically) anti-spam entities like SpamHaus have created expressly to trap spammers.

Honey pots are especially sticky because ISPs and anti-spam organizations don’t just create them and then wait for someone to accidentally mail to them. The ISPs and anti-spammers will actually promote honey pots, in a way almost guaranteed to trap spammers. They do this by publishing honey pot addresses on websites, and may even embed the honey pot addresses in the code of the pages (like in “alt” tags and the like). When embedded on sites, these honey pot addresses are also sometimes called “seeded addresses”.

One particular kind of honeypot spam trap is setup by Backscatterer.org, which runs an entire business out of detecting the “backscatter” spam sent to their spam traps. Your email service provider should have measures in place to prevent you from generating backscatter spam. If you’re an SMTP2GO customer, we’ve got you covered: See our setup guide for ways to correctly configure Microsoft Exchange Server and other recommended techniques to block backscatter spam from ever being sent.

Unfortunately, many email service providers do not have such measures in place, and as a result, backscatter spam is extremely common. This is mostly because the default installation of Microsoft Exchange Server (and some other MTA’s) actually allow backscatter spam to be sent.

How honeypots get on to “legitimate” email lists

After a honey pot email address is set up, it then lies in wait on a website for scraper software to “harvest” it. The scraper software scoops up the honey pot addresses, thinking they’re like any of the other hundreds of thousands of addresses they steal. The person operating the scraper software – the spammer – then inadvertently adds these stolen addresses to their spam list.

Unfortunately, the spammer may also sell these harvested email addresses (including the honey pots) to a legitimate email marketer. The spammer may have to lie and say these are double opt-in email addresses, but that’s no big stretch for a spammer. Another way a spammer’s harvested names can get on a “legitimate” email list is if a marketer uses co-registration with a shady partner, or if they do an email append with an email service that gets its names from less than trustworthy sources.

3) Malformed email addresses, aka typo domain traps.

These kinds of spam traps often catch legitimate email marketers. Malformed email addresses are any email address that’s got a misspelling in it, like lisa@gmial.com or lisa@hotmial.com. It is quite common for these kinds of malformed addresses to get added to email lists when someone is writing out their email address on a printed form – like at a brick and mortar store – or if the email capture is not vetted by double opt-in.

To give you an idea of how many emails go out to these malformed domains, consider that one of the largest email service providers said in a blog post that they mailed “approximately one million emails to typo-squatting domains” just in November of 2011 alone. That was several years ago, and while I’d like to report that there are fewer emails going to these kinds of addresses, there aren’t.

Occasionally, someone filling out an online opt-in form will also make a typo and send an email to a spam trap. These are the least severe of all traps, as they are most often simply caused by user error. If the sender of the email is using double opt-in, this will mean they at least send only one email to the trap. But even if you’re using double opt-in, if you’ve got a high-traffic site with thousands of people typing in their email addresses, it’s bound to happen every so often.

Another variation on this problem is when people deliberately type in false email addresses – like bill@microsoft.com for example, or admin@site.com. Occasionally, someone will type in an email that just happens to be a spam trap. Once again, if the marketer is using double opt-in, this will minimize the damage.

How to Tell If You’ve Got a Spam Trap on Your List

Most email marketers find out they’ve got a spam trap only after they see their deliverability rates tumble. But you can use tools like the Windows Smart Network Data Services, Return Path’s Sender Score tool or ProjectHoneyPot.org to see if any of these bad apples are on your list.

What happens if you do get on a spam trap?

The consequences of triggering a spam trap varies depending on which spam trap you’ve triggered and how often you’ve triggered it. In other words, mailing to a malformed email address once is bad. Mailing to a honey pot that was embedded on a website once is very bad. Mailing more than once to that honey pot is very, very bad.

One major email deliverability service reports seeing a mailer’s SenderScore drop as much as 20 points after mailing to just one spam trap one time. SenderScore is a rating of zero to 100 – anything below 90 is considered a problem, so that one email created quite a deliverability disaster. In another example of an extreme penalty of mailing to a spam trap, a sender’s inbox placement dropped below 81% (that’s how many emails they send that actually reach peoples’ inboxes).

While those kinds of consequences are severe, they’re not uncommon. Mailers who trigger spam traps often end up on one or more blacklists, and can have many other problems. In short, you don’t want to mess with spam traps. Even one or two triggered spam traps can crippled your profitability.

The Best Way to Get Out of a Spam Trap

So what happens if you find a spam trap in your list? The single best way to identify a spam trap is to look for no engagement with your email messages. Start by going back six months, and remove everyone who has never opened an email. If that seems too extreme, you could go back and remove everyone who has never clicked one of your emails in the last six months.

The next, less effective way is to remove malformed domain names. The third method would be to remove emails with job functions (known as role accounts), like customerservice@yahoo.com or sales@microsoft.com. That third method should be used only as a last-ditch effort – you will probably delete quite a few legitimate email subscribers if you purge those kinds of addresses.

How to Never Get on a Spam Trap in the First Place

Given how severe the consequences are of triggering a spam trap, what can you do to never get on one? Fortunately there are several easy, proven ways to never have to tangle with spam traps.

1) Never buy an email list.

It’s SMTP2GO’s policy to not let our users use purchased lists. We do this to protect the deliverability rates of our network for all of our customers, but also because we just don’t want you to get burned the way so many other people have with purchased lists. Note that we also do not tolerate “harvested” email lists.

2) Use double opt-in.

Double opt-in is when you send a confirmation email to a new subscriber after they’ve entered their email address in your opt-in form. The prospective subscriber has to click a link in that confirmation email in order to be subscribed.

This does create an extra step for people to get on your email list, but it is also one of the best ways to never have to worry about triggering a spam trap multiple times. Spam traps aren’t the only reason to use double opt-in though – you’ll also enjoy nearly double the open rates and click-through rates if you set up double opt-in, and you’ll get fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints. Double opt-in will cost you a few subscribers on the front end, but for long-term list engagement and profitability, it beats single opt-in hands down.

If you really must use single opt-in, at least send a welcome email to every new subscriber. If that welcome email bounces, consider removing the new subscriber.

3) Be very, very careful about which companies you pick for co-registration or email append services.

Co-registration is when you sort of piggy back on another company’s opt-in form. Typically, the prospective subscriber fills out your co-registration partner’s form, and then checks a box bear the bottom of the form that says they also want to opt into your list.

This technique used to work very well, but it’s always been a bit borderline spammy, and it’s never resulted in high-quality lists. Now that we have CASL, co-registration forms also cannot be pre-checked, so if your co-reg partner is still using pre-checked boxes (i.e., pre-checking the boxes so people are opting into your list by default), either get them to uncheck that box, or stop doing business with them.

co-registration example

An example of co-registration. Note that the opt-in check box for the co-registration partner is not checked.

Email append services are where you have, say, a list of 10,000 postal mailing addresses, and you want to get email addresses for those people. An email append service can do that. Once again, these tend to create poor quality email lists.

In the end, the only good way to get an email list is to build it, subscriber by subscriber. Fortunately, it’s not that hard, and can often be cheaper than trying to buy lists that end up performing poorly.

5) Practice good list hygiene.

Every six to 12 months, purge your list of anyone who has never opened or clicked one of your emails. Yes, this will reduce your list size. But it will also preserve and improve the deliverability of the names you do have, it will keep you off spam traps from recycled addresses. It will even reduce your overhead costs for your remaining names. There’s a reason list hygiene is one of the most recommended best practices – it’s worth the effort.

If you’re seeing more than 5% bounce rates after you mail to a portion of your list, then before sending any further emails we recommend cleaning your list using one of our recommended email verification services:

DataValidation.com

BriteVerify.com

You may need to run your list through these services if your list is very old or out of date. Part of our terms of service – set to preserve our deliverability rates for all customers – requires that very old or out of date lists be verified.

6) Use CAPTCHA on opt-in and contact forms.

There’s no better way to ensure you’re dealing with an actual human than to add a CAPTCHA to your opt-in and (especially) to your contact forms. This will serve as another potent deterrent to keep spam trap emails off your list.

7) Use a company-wide suppression list.

Leverage other people’s work. If you’re in a company large enough to have multiple email lists, pool your resources and create a list of addresses no one in your company should mail to. This isn’t a foolproof way to steer clear of spam traps, but it definitely helps the cause.

Fortunately for you, SMTP2GO maintains a large list of known spam trap domains, and we block any attempts to send emails to those domains. This protects both your reputation and ours. It also instantly notifies you about potential problems with your list, or with a compromised computer within your network.

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The Kitten’s Guide to Canadian Anti-Spam Law

Got $1-10 million dollars to lose? No? Then it’s time to get onboard with the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law. CASL went into effect on July 1st of this year, and while we’ve all got three years before the multi-million dollar penalties start showing up, it’s definitely time to get CASL compliant.

You can no longer hide from the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL).

You can no longer hide from the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL).

Before we get too far into the details of international law, please note that we are not lawyers. You should seek a competent attorney to decide exactly what is or is not right for your business.

While we aren’t lawyers, we are in the email industry, and so we’ve done a lot of research on what CASL says and what it might mean going forward. The good news is that it’s always better to respect subscribers’ preferences and to preserve the quality of your list. CASL will definitely make us do that. The bad news is some tried and true email marketing techniques are about to be history.

In an effort to lighten up what might otherwise be a somewhat dry topic, we’ve elected to explain CASL with the help of some kittens. Hopefully adding a little fur and cuteness will make spam compliance just a little more interesting. We considered the Mole Rats Guide to CASL, but mole rats aren’t nearly as viral.

8 essential things to understand about the Canadian Anti-Spam Law

1) There is a 3-year transitional period that started on July 1st. After that, any Canadian can sue any person or company they believe has sent them a message in violation of CASL.

2) CASL fines are the most expensive in the world. Corporations who violate CASL can be fined up to $10 million dollars PER MESSAGE. Individuals who violate CASL can be fined up to $1 million dollars PER MESSAGE.

3) Not all businesses have to follow CASL, but if you can answer yes to any of the questions below then you do.

4) CASL does not apply to communications from
• non-profits
• political organizations
• family members
• employees
• consultants
• people associated with your business (like vendors)
• people you have an “established personal relationship” with
• business or personal referrals
• people who have contacted your business within the last 6 months

CASL_kittens_nonprofitconsultant

5) CASL applies only to commercial digital communications, aka “Commercial Electronic Messages” (CEM), like:
• emails
• text messages
• some social media communications
• any other message sent to an email address, phone number or a social media account

To be defined as commercial, the message must promote commercial activity or encourage the recipient to participate in promoting something commercial (like a Facebook contest, or writing a product review).

6) Some types of digital communication are exempt, including:

• anything related to a purchase – shipping updates, receipts or return information
• warranty or recall messages
• any communication for legal purposes (court orders, class-action suit messages)

7) CASL is hinged on the concept of consent, namely “express consent” and “implied consent”. Express consent is when someone voluntarily opts into a compliant opt-in form. Opt-in forms with pre-checked boxes are NOT compliant.

CASL_kittens_precheckedboxes

Once you’ve got express consent, you never have to ask for it again (unless the subscriber opts out).

The second type of consent is implied. You have the implied consent of an individual if they’ve done business with you in the last 24 months.

Just so you’re 100% clear on implied versus express consent, here’s part of an infographic from the CASL site.

This is how CASL defines implied and express consent, as per the CASL information site, http://fightspam.gc.ca.

8) You need a record of consent.

Anyone using double opt-in (aka confirmed opt-in) will already have a record of consent. But if you’re buying or renting lists, you’ll want to see the records of consent before you mail. You need to know when people signed up, how they signed up, and preferably which IP address they signed up from.

CASL_kittens_ImpliedConsent

6 major implications of CASL

1) Co-registration companies and co-reg forms will see fewer opt-ins, now that they can’t use pre-checked forms.

This is not a huge loss (unless you’re a co-registration company). Using pre-checked forms has always resulted in poor-quality lists, so while the CASL compliant lists will be much smaller, they’ll be of better quality. This might end up being a good thing in the end.

2) Buying a list will become even less of a good idea.

With multi-million dollar penalties in play, you’d better trust your list broker. Or better yet, just let this bad email marketing practice go entirely (we have – purchased lists can’t be used with SMTP2GO). Besides, it’s not that hard to build a list.

3) Remarketing and shopping cart abandonment emails will have to stop – unless the recipient has opted into the company’s list with a valid opt-in form.

Again, if they haven’t signed up specifically for your list, don’t send them email. Having them be signed up for someone else’s email list (in this case, the remarketing company’s list) is not good enough.

CASL_kittens_shoppingcart2

4) Send to a friend emails will have to go away.

Send to a friend emails, (also called referral emails), are when someone likes an article, product, or anything else enough to tell someone about it via email. So they click the “email to a friend” link on that page, fill out their email and their “friend’s” email, maybe include a message and then send their friend a link to that page.

The problem is, the friend never said they wanted to get emails from that company. So that email, though well-intentioned, is unsolicited.

5) Single, or unconfirmed opt-in is riskier.

Now that we have to be able to prove when and how someone signed up for a list, not having people confirm their email addresses creates a problem. What if the single opt-in people on your list didn’t actually signup? What if someone else used their email address to “get them”… the same way some people used to ponder signing their enemies up for magazines with all those mail-in postcards?

CASL_kittens_singleoptin

6) Companies can no longer send gifts to customers who have complained online.

Here’s the scenario: A customer has a rotten experience with a company. They complain about it via Twitter. In the past, the company might send them a coupon or offer some other freebie to try to make up for the bad experience. But according to CASL, that’s not OK – a customer’s complaining about a company online does not constitute opting into their list. The company’s tweet is also promotional, in that it urges the complaining customers into buying again, and so the tweet, though well intentioned, is not OK.

Companies can reply to complaining customers, but only to ask them to contact customer service. If the customer chooses to follow through and contact customer service, then it is okay for the company to offer the coupon.

Those are the must-know facts and possible effects of CASL. Have you made any changes to your email marketing yet? Let us know in the comments.

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May & June Updates

This month’s SMTP2GO updates include a range of stability and bug fixes. We have also implemented some delivery improvements.

  • Adjustments are continually made to our hard/soft bounce classification system, to ensure that it stays as accurate as possible. We have added and classified a significant number of known responses given by recipient mail servers.
  • Email quota alerts are now sent to all account types. Previously, only paid accounts would receive notification when they reached 80%, 90% and 100% of their quota. Free accounts now receive the same information.
  • Quota alert messages have added information to make them even more useful. Notifications now include the date and time the account email quota will be reset.
  • An issue where reports downloaded from the SMTP2GO dashboard in CSV format were corrupted has been resolved.
  • A small fix was applied to make bounce and spam lists downloading more efficient.

In other exciting news, the member dashboard is being completely redesigned. The new design will make managing SMTP2GO accounts more streamlined. The new design is currently being developed and tested and should be released to members soon.

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What is Transactional Email?

Though it may not be a layman’s term, everyone who has an active email account has probably received transactional email at some point. Transactional email refers to an email generated by some action involving the user; it does not necessarily refer to any sort of financial transaction. This could include an action directly on the part of the user, an action targeting the user, or sometimes even a lack of action by the user. Below are a few examples of transactional email instances.

Direct User Action

The most common example of this type of transactional email is the email delivered when a user signs up for an account on a website. In this case, the “transaction” is the act of the user signing up for the site. The welcome email is sent as a result of this transaction.

You_like_birds_and_so_do_we_-_brooksee47_gmail_com_-_Gmail

A sample transactional welcome email.

Actions Targeting Users

These types of transactional emails are sent when the user receives, for example, a comment on a social networking site. An automated email is sent to the user to notify him or her that the comment has been posted. This is not a direct user action; rather, someone else’s action is the trigger. (Note: Gmail will generally place these emails in the “Social” tab of the updated inbox.)

Inbox_-_brooksee47_gmail_com_-_Gmail

Sample passive user-action transactional emails.

User Inaction

Examples of transactional emails received due to user inaction are the “Come back/We miss you” emails sent as part of email win-back campaigns. The user in this case has subscribed to a mailing list, but has either not responded in some time to any emails sent, or has never responded at all.

Other Examples and Synonyms

As previously stated, transactional email refers to essentially all triggered and automated emails to users who have subscribed to services or mailing lists on a website. Other commonly encountered examples of transactional emails include:

  • Password resets
  • Support ticket requests
  • Email confirmations
  • Online purchase receipts
  • Invoices
  • Auto-responders
  • Weekly activity manifests

Transactional emails can also be referred to as “triggered,” “automated/automatic,” and “real-time.” These all mean essentially the same thing; the different terms are simply used by different companies according to their needs and the services they provide.

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SMTP2GO Attending HostingCon in Miami Florida

SMTP2GO is attending HostingCon 2014 at Miami Beach, Florida.

If you’re also there, and are thinking you might like to partner with an SMTP provider (or just want to say hi!) let us know.

Lukas has flown in from New Zealand, and Rocky has flown in from Texas.

Get in touch by messaging the team via Skype (lukaswilliams).

2014 Hostingcon

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April Release & Updates

SMTP2GO’s latest release brings several bug fixes, updates and some useful new features.

  • Optional sending rate limits have been introduced and can be set globally for all SMTP users in an account or applied on a per user basis. To apply a limit to all SMTP users in an account, log in to your SMTP2GO dashboard, click “Settings” then “Authentication”. Near the base of the page on the right hand side, there is a toggle labelled “Custom rate limit”. From here, set the limit or volume of messages followed by the time period in which those messages can be sent. For example, you may wish to limit a user to only sending 50 emails per day or 200 per month.
    Custom Rate Limits
    Once this is turned on, you can set the limit and the time period. To apply limits to individual users, log in to your SMTP2GO dashboard, click “Settings” then “Authentication” and edit a user. The last option in the list is labelled “Custom rate limit”.

    Custom Individual Rate Limits

    Turn on the “Custom rate limit” toggle and select the limit or volume of messages followed by the time period in which those messages can be sent.
  • If you are subscribed to one of our high volume plans, you can now view your dedicated IP address. It can be found by choosing “Settings” then “Authentication” when logged in to the SMTP2GO dashboard.IP Address

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Recent DMARC Changes at Yahoo and AOL

In recent weeks, Yahoo and AOL have made changes to their respective DMARC policies, and it is likely that other ISPs will follow suit in the near future. This guide will attempt to answer any questions you may have about the changes, and provide insight on updating your outbound email strategy according to the new policies.

What is a DMARC policy?

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. DMARC allows the owner of a domain to publish DNS records that indicate to recipient domains what should be done with messages that do not authenticate. In the words of John Levine, an author and consultant who has spent considerable time crafting DMARC standards:

“DMARC lets a domain owner make assertions about mail that has their domain in the address on the From: line. It lets the owner assert that mail will have a DKIM signature with the same domain, or an envelope return (bounce) address in the same domain that will pass SPF validation. The domain owner can also offer policy advice about what to do with mail that doesn’t have matching DKIM or SPF, ranging from nothing to reject the mail in the SMTP session. The assertions are in the DNS, in a TXT record at _dmarc.domain.”

A_brief_DMARC_primer_-_Word_to_the_Wise

Yahoo’s updated DMARC record; the “p=reject” segment indicates that the DMARC policy will reject and block messages from improperly authenticated or unauthenticated senders.

The Wikipedia article on DMARC policy also states the following:

“DMARC requires that a message not only pass DKIM or SPF validation, but that it also pass alignment. For SPF, the message must PASS the SPF check, and the domain in the From: header must match the domain used to validate SPF (must exactly match for strict alignment, or must be a sub-domain for relaxed alignment). For DKIM, the message must be validly signed and the d= domain of the valid signature must align with the domain in the From: header (must exactly match for strict alignment, or must be a sub-domain for relaxed alignment). Under DMARC a message can fail even if it passes SPF or DKIM, but fails alignment.”

What changes have been made?

Due to recent increases in security issues, AOL and Yahoo have both decided to require strict alignment between the From: header address and domain authentication. Email spoofing will no longer be permitted, and its use will result in the sender’s emails being blocked.

How will the new DMARC policies affect sending?

The only senders who will be affected by this change are those who use Yahoo or AOL email addresses in their From: headers and do not send directly through their respective SMTP servers.

Note: Yahoo’s DMARC update affects only @yahoo.com email addresses; @ymail.com and @rocketmail.com addresses are currently unaffected. In addition, many regional Yahoo servers are unaffected (e.g. yahoo.co.jp).

What can be done to resolve the issues?

At this point in time, we strongly recommend that affected clients consider switching to their own domain for outgoing email traffic. Switching to another free email provider such as Gmail or Hotmail will provide a temporary solution to the problem, but it is only a matter of time before other providers follow in the footsteps of Yahoo and AOL. Security breaches are becoming more and more widespread, so it only makes sense that more email providers will take precautions to protect their users. A custom domain will prevent future deliverability issues from cropping up when ISPs change their policies according to security needs.

If you need assistance setting up a new domain or email addresses, please feel free to contact technical support.

 

 

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How to Warm Up an IP Address

When first sending emails out on a brand new dedicated IP address or range of IP addresses, it is important to keep in mind best email practices in order to keep your emails out of your recipients’ spam folders, even if you are simply switching email service providers. A brand new IP address will not have any sort of mailing history, so there is no way for ISPs to tell whether a new stream of email traffic is legitimate, or perhaps due to a mail system being compromised. The following guidelines will provide some insight on bolstering the reputation of your IP address (with some SMTP2GO-specific advice included).

Gradually Increasing Sent Mail Volume

Once you’ve checked your SPF record, and considered setting up a custom DKIM signature, you will need to gradually ramp up the number of emails you send out in order to avoid the risk of being blocked.

SMTP2GO pre-warms up dedicated IP addresses to a certain extent. However, if you suddenly send out 100,000 emails from a brand new SMTP2GO high volume (dedicated IP address) account, some ISPs may assume that your mail system has been compromised, and the emails will be blocked. Most ISPs have fail-safes in place that identify mass mailings from unknown IP addresses as spam.

In order to prevent your emails from being flagged, you will need to gradually increase your outbound traffic so as not to trigger the fail-safes. This is a simpler task if you are just starting a new campaign with a relatively small number of contacts, but rather more daunting if you’ve already established many business relationships and have just switched to SMTP2GO. In either case, the solution is similar; the only major difference lies in the numbers.

To ramp up outbound email traffic at an appropriate rate, make an estimate of the number of emails you plan to send out monthly, and then divide that number by 30. (Example: if you plan to send out 100,000 emails in your first month, divide 100,000 by 30, and send out around 3,000 to 4,000 per day, as a rough guide.) This is a slow process, but a steady stream of outbound emails gives a recipient ISP time to properly test the quality and nature of your email traffic, and build up a secret reputation figure for your IP address. Content and domain reputation is also very important, and this is likely to be built up at the same time as your IP reputation.

Alternatively, if you are already sending out a very large number of emails per month and are simply switching to SMTP2GO, you may not want to wait a full month to be able to send out your desired quantity of emails. In this case, it may be better to spend a month phasing your emails from the old ESP to SMTP2GO (thereby warming up the new IP in the process).

Monitoring

One final point that seems obvious but bears repeating is that your results should be monitored constantly. Any spam complaints from your emails can be seen in your SMTP2GO control panel, so you can find out immediately if your recipients are clicking on the ‘Spam’ button for your email in Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and others. You can also easily see your bounce rate. A high bounce rate can indicate problems with your mailing list, which can lead to bigger problems in the future.

Also worth noting is the fact that Return Path provides a way to view your exact inbox placement rate with most major ISP’s, however to view those statistics you do need to become Return Path certified (which we can help with), and it does cost several thousands of dollars in most cases. A more DIY approach is to create an email address at the major email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook/Hotmail) and be sure to always include them in each of your mailings. You can then periodically check them to see if your emails are being placed into the inbox of spam folder in each case.

To get a good overall idea of your current IP address’ reputation, visit SenderScore.org (which is operated by Return Path) and search for your IP address. You’ll see a variety of statistics to accurately measure your current standing.  The reading from SenderScore will look something like this:

senderscore

Warming up your new IP address has a bit of a learning curve, but if you follow the steps provided, you have a much higher chance of successfully getting your messages to the contacts you need to reach.

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March Release & Updates

SMTP2GO’s newest release brings general enhancements and updates to improve the user experience.

  • If you joined or upgraded your SMTP2GO account after June 2013 (and are therefore paying via our new payment processor called Fastspring) you now have the ability to purchase blocks of extra emails. You can do this to temporarily increase your email quota instead of upgrading to a higher plan.
  • The account reputation percentage calculation has now been adjusted to more accurately reflect account behavior. Bounce and spam rate calculations are now more closely aligned with our recommended bounce and spam rates before the reputation percentage is lowered. This will also help to increase account reputation more quickly after a temporary sending issue has been resolved.Account Reputation
  • Adjustments are continually made to our hard/soft bounce classification system, to ensure that it stays as accurate as possible. Simply checking the SMTP response code (e.g. 421, 450, 551, etc.)  does not give a reliable indicator of whether a bounce is hard or soft, as a certain percentage of recipient mail servers (including some very big email providers) do not respond with sensible or relevant response codes. The only reliable way (what we do!) to determine if a bounce is hard or soft is to maintain a large database of known responses given by recipient mail servers, which have been properly classified.
  • Your local currency is now selected by default when subscribing to a new SMTP2GO plan. US dollars can still be selected as an option.
  • The Terms of Service Agreement has been updated to include restrictions on the use of SMTP2GO to handle ‘auto-forwarded’ messages. More information is available here.

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SMTP2GO Ranked in Deloitte Tech Fast 500: 2nd Consecutive Year


We’re continuing to grow, and have been awarded a place in Deloitte’s 2013 Technology Fast 500 list for Asia Pacific for the 2nd consecutive year. Deloitte ranked SMTP2GO the 461st fastest-growing company in Asia Pacific for 2013. Winners for 2013 were selected based on the highest percentage of revenue growth from 2011 to 2013.
We’re aiming for 3 years in a row, so look out for us in 2014!

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About Deloitte Technology Fast 500:
The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 is the pre-eminent technology awards program in Asia Pacific with 2013 being its 12th anniversary. Combining technological innovation, entrepreneurship and rapid growth, Fast 500 companies large, small, public, and private are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business. The top 500 companies averaged a revenue growth of 356%, staggering by any measure, though this figure is down from last year’s average growth of 467%.

 

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