Congratulations to our Christmas Competition Survey Winners!
Since we were a little late in contacting the winners (we got distracted by all the turkey!), we decided to draw 10 winners instead of 5. The winners have been contacted and three months’ free SMTP service has been added to their account.
To all of our customers, we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season, and that the New Year brings you everything you had hoped for and more! We really appreciate your custom and will continue doing everything we can to ensure that your emails get to where they need to go.
As always, if you need to get in touch with us, you can do so here.
Since Gmail changed its inbox layout, many marketers find their emails appearing under the “Promotions” tab in Gmail, instead of the recipient’s inbox. The tabs are optional for Gmail users, but many recipients are choosing to take advantage of them, to make sorting their mail easier.
This isn’t all bad news for marketers, however, as Return Path have done a study of 3 million Gmail users, which shows that emails now have a higher deliverability, read and open rate than before, and less mails are ending up in the spam folder.
If you do want to ensure that your messages end up in the inbox, rather than the promotions tab, you’ll need to speak to your subscribers.
Here are our tips for ensuring that your mails appear in the right place.
- Make sure that your mails are completely relevant to your recipients, and that you maintain a high delivery and interaction rate.
- Ask your subscribers to add your email address to their address book.
- Ask your subscribers to move your emails to their primary inbox.
Want to WIN 3 months of your SMTP service FREE?
Christmas is just around the corner, and at SMTP2GO, Santa’s coming down the chimney early!
We’re feeling festive so we’ve giving away three months of FREE service to three lucky winners, based on their current price plan.
Winning’s a piece of Christmas cake…
To enter, just fill in our quick survey. It’ll take less than 5 minutes, and we’ll announce the lucky winners on Christmas Eve.
What’s included in your 3 months of free service?
- Proven email delivery.
- The hardware you need for lightning fast delivery.
- Send emails from any location worldwide.
- Real-time reports.
- Helpful support.
Best of luck!
Any problems or questions? Get in touch with us!
This is a post for current members and will be of interest to you if you have a firewall that is currently only allowing outbound connections to particular IP addresses. In other words, your firewall is restricting all outbound connections except certain IP addresses that you have specified.
To get technical, we are adding new IP addresses to the DNS ‘A record’ for our SMTP service.
Like almost all of our members, if you don’t have a firewall that blocks most outgoing IP addresses, you won’t need to make any adjustments.
The ranges of IP addresses to allow are:
Note: the above ranges are given in CIDR format. If you need the individual IP addresses, you can convert each range using this website.
We’re making these changes to offer greater reliability in the event of any issues with any one server or location. The changes will be made in the next 48 hours.
Since downloading Windows 10, a lot of people have been experiencing issues sending mails via Outlook.
You may see the following error message: User account – Sending’ reported error (0x800CCC13): ‘Cannot connect to the network. Verify your network connection or modem.
If this happens, you’ll need to repair corrupted files by using the Windows System File Checker using the following steps:
- Close Outlook.
- Right click the Windows Start button and click on Command Prompt (Admin). If this option isn’t available, click Windows PowerShell (Admin) instead.
- In the Command Prompt window, type sfc /scannow (note the space in the command) and hit the enter key.
- Wait until the process has finished. This shouldn’t take any longer than 20 minutes with a regular hard disk, and much less time if you have a fast SSD drive.
- Restart your computer and open Outlook again.
If you continue to experience issues sending, please get in touch!
Thanks to Microsoft Office for the tips.
Since the OS X Yosemite update to Apple Mail, many clients have been experiencing problems while sending emails. They’ve checked usernames and passwords, swapped port numbers and servers, and re-entered SMTP settings countless times, but nothing seems to work.
Here’s how to fix it:
From the ‘Mail’ menu, go to ‘Preferences’. Once there, click on ‘Accounts’ and then go to ‘Advanced’. There, you’ll see a little checkbox that says “Automatically detect and maintain account settings”. Make sure to untick this box.
Under the ‘Accounts’ heading again, go to ‘Account Information’. Go down to your ‘Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)’ and from the dropdown menu, choose ‘Edit SMTP Server List’. Find the checkbox that says “Automatically detect and maintain account settings”, and again, untick it. Click ‘OK’.
Go back to your initial settings and check your usernames, passwords, servers and ports. Once you’re happy that they’re correct, close the program and reopen it. Your settings should now stay the way you need them.
Some email senders abuse unsubscribe best practices so badly it seems like they’ve gone a step beyond just ignoring the best practices. They appear to almost want to get their messages marked as spam.
To call these bad senders out and to clarify what’s okay and not okay for the rest of us, we’ve put together a list of best practices for email unsubscribe links. If you follow these tips, your messages will get marked as spam less often. You’ll give your subscribers a better experience overall. You might even see your deliverability rates improve.
1) Make the unsubscribe link easy to find.
People scan online far more often than they read. Make your unsubscribe link easy to find for scanners. Here’s how:
– Use type in an easy-to-read typeface, in a size large enough so people don’t have to squint.
– Don’t hide your unsubscribe link in many lines of text, especially long lines of text with no line breaks.
– Don’t grey out the type so the contrast against the white background makes it hard to read. Also, don’t use tiny grey text on a darker grey background.
– Use the word “unsubscribe” for the actual unsubscribe link. Don’t use anchor text like “preferences center” or something nondescript like “site”.
This is what an easy-to-find unsubscribe link looks like:
2) Offer a one-click unsubscribe link.
If people want to get off your email list, that’s fine. Let them go. There’s no benefit to retaining unhappy subscribers. Besides, they may not be unsubscribing because they don’t like your emails. They may be unsubscribing because they simply get too much email.
3) Don’t disable the functionality of your unsubscribe link after a few days.
Some unsubscribe links don’t work after a certain period of time. This results in a terrible user experience, is against our Terms of Service, and in some cases is actually illegal. According to CAN-SPAM, unsubscribe links have to work for at least 30 days after an email list sent.
4) Don’t make people log in to unsubscribe.
Your subscriber is already overwhelmed by his inbox. He probably spends about 28% of his workday just managing email, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. So don’t make it any harder by forcing him to log into an account he probably doesn’t remember creating before he can unsubscribe.
Definitely don’t give him vague or inaccurate instructions for how to unsubscribe. I ran into this when I tried to unsubscribe from Iberia airlines’ emails. Their email said I should go through these sections on their site to unsubscribe: “Access your Personal Area, My Profile, Subscriptions”. But they don’t actually have sections on their site with those names.
What’s worse, their login process is infuriating. It took me 10 minutes just to get into my account.
5) Make sure your email preferences page shows accurate information.
It’s really frustrating for subscribers to go all the way through logging into an account, only to find inaccurate information about their email preferences. So keep your subscriber database up to date and make sure it works properly.
After logging into the Iberia Airlines website, and finally finding the page with my email preferences on it, I found that according to the preferences I shouldn’t have received their newsletter email in the first place.
6) Don’t force your subscribers to unsubscribe by replying to your email.
This might have been okay five or ten years ago, but now it’s just bad form. And, as we’ll talk about in a moment, it’s also against SMTP2GO policy.
Another reason this kind of unsubscribe practice is so bad is because after your subscriber has forwarded the email to someone else (or even to a different email address of their own) they won’t be able to unsubscribe through a reply request. This is because they’ll be sending the unsubscribe request from an email address that isn’t on your list – the address they forwarded the email to.
7) Process unsubscribes immediately.
SMTP2GO requires all unsubscribe requests to be processed immediately, as stated in our Terms of Service page, excerpted below:
An opt-out (unsubscribe) link must be placed at the bottom of each email which will allow the recipients to immediately remove themselves from the mail list.
8) Don’t leave out the unsubscribe links.
This is the easiest tip of all to follow. Per CAN-SPAM and CASL, you’re required to have an unsubscribe link in every promotional email you send.
Making unsubscribe links easy to find and easy to use is really not that hard. Just set them up the way you’d want an unsubscribe link to be in the emails you receive.
For the past six months, almost all of Google’s services – including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Drive and Google Hangouts – have experienced serious disruptions when trying to gain access from China. The biggest blow, however, has just been made to Gmail, the world’s biggest email service, which has finally been blocked in China. Access to Gmail has been made increasingly difficult by government censors but now Google’s email service is virtually inaccessible in mainland China.
Google’s Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic to Google’s services, shows Gmail activity in China plummeting just after Christmas. According to Reuters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know anything about Gmail being blocked, adding that the government remained committed to helping overseas business and foreign investors:
“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here. We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”
Is there a solution for those trying to use Gmail in China?
Is there any way around Gmail’s block in China? Using a virtual private network (VPN) may be all that is required to get around the problem – but, in some cases, it will be beneficial to use a non-Gmail SMTP server that is designed to work in controlled locations such as China. For example, you don’t necessarily want to go through the hassle of connecting to a VPN if you want to send a quick email, or if you want to send an email from your smartphone. SMTP2GO also has many other benefits such as email tracking (the ability to see exactly what happens to every single email that you send), and the ability to monitor bounces, spam complaints (if someone clicks the ‘Spam’ button in Hotmail/AOL/Yahoo for an email that you sent to them, you need to know about that), unsubscribes (if you’re sending email newsletters) and many other features.
How to setup SMTP2GO in China
This controlled location setup gets around many problems that individual Internet Providers, or states, implement in order to restrict SMTP traffic.
- If you don’t have an SMTP2GO account already, you can create a free one here.
- Change your SMTP settings to the following:
- SMTP server: mail.smtp2go.com
- SMTP port: 443
- And, turn SSL on.
You can also try the following:
- SMTP server: mail.smtp2go.com
- SMTP port: 465 or 8465
- And, turn SSL on.
- If all else fails, use a VPN service in conjunction with SMTP2GO. A good guide for finding a reliable VPN: The best VPNs to use in China.
The way you handle email unsubscribes for your marketing emails is more important than it looks. It’s not a time to make things difficult for the people who want to leave your list, or to just dismiss them without a second thought.
There’s actually a huge reason to make unsubscribing from your list easy, if not even pleasant: Spam complaints.
If people can’t find the unsubscribe link quickly and easily in your marketing emails, they will mark your message as spam. This is different for transactional emails, because those don’t require an unsubscribe link by law. Transactional emails also tend to get far fewer unsubscribe requests than marketing messages. But for this post, we’re focused mainly on marketing emails.
Enough spam complaints from any kind of email and your deliverability rates will begin to drop. In fact, if your marketing emails’ spam complaints are high (like over .07%), the first thing to look at is your unsubscribe process.
There’s another, nicer reason to handle unsubscribes carefully: You might be able to save the subscriber. People may unsubscribe because they don’t need or want your emails, but it’s why they don’t need or want your emails that we’re interested in. The why holds the key for:
• How to retain some of the subscribers who initiate the unsubscribe process
• Let other subscribers choose a different way to stay in touch (like social media)
• Let the remainder go without annoying them
Why People Unsubscribe
These are the three most common reasons people unsubscribe from emails according to research from Constant Contact.
Other reasons people unsubscribe include:
– They can’t read your emails on their mobile device
– They get too many emails in general
– Email isn’t the way they want to hear from you anymore
– They don’t remember who you are
– They want to change their email address
Each one of these reasons holds an important piece of information about how to turn the unsubscribe process from a quick, awkward parting to an opportunity to actually improve the relationship with your subscriber. So let’s walk through every opportunity you’ve got to turn your subscribers’ unsubscribe process around.
To give you an idea of how many email marketing programs comply with the best practices we’ll talk about, take a look at this table from the Online Trust Alliance’s 2014 Email Unsub Best Practices and Audit report. This report is based on the unsubscribe processes of 200 major retailers.
Retain your subscribers
1) Give them a way to change their email address.
Many email users have three or even four email accounts. They often move their subscriptions around, so when that’s happening, make it easy for them. Here’s an example of what an email address change form might look like. Notice the “new email address” field in the gray box:
This refers to letting subscribers control how often they hear from you. So if you’re sending daily emails, offer them the option of getting emails once a week, or even once a month.
Some email newsletters give you a way to opt-down without even initiating the unsubscribe process, like this footer with a link for “Manage Preferences”:
3) Give them the option of re-subscribing even after they’ve unsubscribed.
This will be a little too pushy for some marketers, but if you retain even 5% of subscribers who would have otherwise opted out, it might be worth it.
4) Remind them of the benefits of staying on your list.
Of course, there have to be compelling benefits to staying on your list. This email from a pet supply retailer reminds people they’ll get weekly coupons only available to email subscribers… if they stay on the list.
5) Give them the option of going on “an email fast” or an “email vacation.”
This is similar to letting people opt-down, but with a twist. Here you give them the option to take a month off from receiving emails, or maybe even three months off.
6) Suggest they follow you on social media.
Marine Depot almost has this tactic down. This is the page I saw after I unsubscribed, where their “follow us on social media” pitch should have been.
But instead of suggesting I follow them on social media on that confirmation page, they sent me an annoying email unsubscribe confirmation email. The unsubscribe page is where they put their links to their social media platforms. If they had included this information in the unsubscribe confirmation page, I might have followed them on Facebook.
Here’s an example of an almost perfect unsubscribe confirmation page. Why is it so good? It’s super-easy to read, it confirms the unsubscribe, and it pitches their social media channels. It even offers me a chance to resubscribe.
Don’t annoy them
7) Make the unsubscribe link easy to find.
First thing: Use the word “Unsubscribe” as the anchor text of your unsubscribe link. Anything else is confusing.
Second thing: Make the link prominent. Google’s Gmail just did this for us by adding an unsubscribe link near the top of every email a Gmail user sees. But only 14.2% of email accounts use Gmail (according to a 2014 YesMail Interactive study). Given that 85.8% subscribers won’t see Gmail’s top unsubscribe link, consider adding your own unsubscribe link, like this:
Adding the top link will make it easier for them to unsubscribe, but remember: You don’t want to clutch on to subscribers who don’t want to be on your list. It just builds bad will. It also makes for poor engagement rates, and as your engagement rates fall off, your overall deliverability rates start to go downhill. So stay off that slippery slope.
Here’s an example of an unsubscribe link that is fairly hard to find. It’s certainly not impossible to find, but it takes long enough to annoy the average user. Notice how much easier it would be to recognize the unsubscribe link if the merchant had just used “unsubscribe” in the anchor text.
8) Always add an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails.
Bonus: Remind people how they got on your list in the first place. Here’s how marketer Ana Hoffman reminds subscribers how they got on her list:
9) Don’t make them fill out a survey before they can unsubscribe.
If they’re trying to unsubscribe, you’ve done too much marketing already. Don’t drag them through anymore.
10) Process unsubscribes immediately.
CASL (http://www.smtp2go.com/blog/canadian-anti-spam-law/) and CAN SPAM give you up to ten days to process unsubscribes, but most people expect to be removed instantly. If you keep mailing them after they’ve unsubscribed, they just might click that spam button.
Political campaigns are notoriously bad about this. You unsubscribe, and yet they continue to send you emails for two more weeks. Don’t do this. Once people have asked to go, let them go.
11) Don’t make people log in to unsubscribe.
Forcing people to log in is against CAN-SPAM law, so if you’re sending to American subscribers, making people log in is actually illegal.
12) Don’t send them an unsubscribe confirmation email.
It’s just annoying. Instead, give your ex-subscriber a clear message on the email unsubscribe confirmation page. People should not have to wonder if they’ve been unsubscribed. Also, don’t hide the unsubscribe message in tiny type.
Something like the image below is good. This message is the only thing you see on the unsubscribe confirmation page of a major retailer:
Remember: Half of the people who unsubscribe from your list will be on mobile devices. In addition to navigating your unsubscribe page, they may be walking down the street, talking to someone else, or even driving. Make your unsubscribe process simple enough to accommodate their fractured attention.
13) Bring them to a branded unsubscribe page.
The only problem with the example above (the green confirmation message) is the retailer did not include their logo on the page. It’s better if you include your logo so the subscriber knows for sure who’s list they’ve unsubscribed from. The principle behind this is the same as other best practices outlined here: Don’t make people guess. Besides, it’s one last chance to get a brand impression in.
Good news for SMTP2GO users: We’ve got this covered. You can add your logo to your unsubscribe confirmation page, if you choose to use SMTP2GO’s built-in unsubscribe functionality.
14) Offer your subscribers the ability to unsubscribe from all commercial messages you send, not just emails.
That means text messages, direct mail, and phone calls.
15) The unsubscribe links in your emails should work for at least 60 days after the email has been sent.
It’s surprising, but many emails have unsubscribe links that stop working after a period of time. This may benefit the marketer, but it irritates subscribers no end. Not only that, but it’s illegal: CASL requires unsubscribe links to work for 60 days after sending. CAN SPAM requires they work for 30 days.
Deliverability is still a challenge for most email senders. ReturnPath still reports only one in six emails makes it to the inbox. Their latest benchmark report, Inbox Placement 2014, shows some industries are having an especially hard time getting their emails read. Only 43% of the emails sent by the Software and Internet industry are reaching their recipients.
Given these difficulties, email senders need every tool available to stay ahead of the spam filters and their competitors. That’s where dedicated IP addresses come in. Mailing from a dedicated IP address can improve deliverability rates, and usually does. But it is not a guaranteed fix.
There are pros and cons to using dedicated IP addresses for email. They’re not the right choice for everyone. To help you make the right choice for your business, we wanted to walk you through the benefits of both dedicated and shared IP addresses.
The importance of IP addresses for email comes down to what’s called “sender reputation”. Your sender reputation largely determines your email deliverability rates. Your IP address is an important component of sender reputation, but it’s not the only component. Sender reputation is also influenced by reputation of the domain name used in the “From” email address, the domain name used in the “Return-path” email address, and the domain names of any links in the email itself.
There is no universally agreed-upon arbiter of sender reputation, but there is something that comes close. It’s called “SenderScore”. SenderScore is basically a metric produced by the ReturnPath company. It is used by major email providers like Yahoo, Outlook, Windows Live, and others. You can learn more about it here. A high SenderScore helps only when you send emails to an email provider that uses it.
SenderScores can range from zero to one hundred. You’ll need a SenderScore of at least 90 to be considered a trustworthy sender. Aim for 95 or better. If you’re wondering what your SenderScore is, check ReturnPath’s online SenderScore tool.
Dedicated Versus Shared IP addresses
With a dedicated IP address, it’s just your account on that IP address. No other sender is associated with it. With a shared address, you’ll be sharing that IP address with hundreds or thousands of other senders.
Don’t dismiss shared IP addresses simply because sharing with other senders might hurt you. Sharing an IP address could be detrimental, but if you’re working with a reliable vendor you won’t be sharing the IP address with any bad senders. Email service providers and other vendors (like SMTP2GO) will monitor how all their accounts are used.
An email vendor can require its customers to follow standard best practices for mailing and managing lists. These requirements protect the vendor, but also protect you and all the other accounts you share an IP address with. It’s very possible that you could actually benefit from sharing an IP address with other well-managed accounts. If they’ve got high engagement rates and treat their subscribers well, they could be good neighbors.
So if having a shared IP address is not so bad, why do businesses get dedicated IP addresses? Because a dedicated IP address can improve your deliverability rates – if all the other parts of your deliverability equation are in place. A business with a dedicated IP address can also apply to be ReturnPath certified (for an ongoing fee). That usually increases inbox placement rates. But for a dedicated IP to be right for you, you’ll need enough email volume to make it work.
How often do you mail?
If you mail less than three days a week and you send less than 5,000 emails on those days, a shared IP address is likely to be the best choice for you. With such a low send volume, you’d barely be able to keep your IP address “warm” enough to be recognized as a regular sender by the major ISPs.
Let’s talk about this “warm” idea. How warm an IP address is refers to how often the address is used. You’ll need to warm up your new IP address slowly or ISPs could block your emails. This happens because from the ISPs’ view, they saw no activity from an IP address for awhile, and then suddenly they see a blast of activity. To an ISP that blast of emails looks like spam, so they may block those emails. We have an entire post about how to warm up an IP address. Read it carefully if you’re considering moving to a new IP.
Even if you send more than 5,000 messages three days a week, or if your email list is larger than 20,000 subscribers, a dedicated IP address may still not be right for you.
The costs of a dedicated IP address
The next criteria to consider is price. Shared IP addresses are less expensive than dedicated IPs. How much less expensive they are depends on how many emails you’re sending, which vendor you’re working with and what other features you need. Senders can pay five to ten times more for a email deliverability package with a dedicated IP address than for one with a shared IP address. That said, if you can trust you’ll see higher deliverability rates, it might make financial sense.
Total control of your Sender Score
One of the major reasons larger companies choose a dedicated IP address is they know they’re following deliverability best practices and they want the full benefits of that work. If you know your company is doing everything possible to optimize your deliverability rates, then a dedicated IP address could be a good investment.
You might even want more than one dedicated IP address. That would allow you to send specific types of email messages from each IP address. For example, your transactional emails could go out on IP address #1. Your promotional email messages could go out on IP address #2.
There is one final benefit to having a dedicated IP address: It won’t change. Even though a shared IP address is described as singular, it’s common for shared IP address packages to rotate which IP addresses emails are sent from. Most of the time this has little effect on deliverability because all the IP addresses the vendor uses are kept in good standing. But it has the potential to cause issues here and there, and is something to keep in mind.