All of my blog posts this month have focused on how you can protect YOUR website from becoming the victim of “bad guys” on the web (social media attacks, getting hacked, and blog spam). Now for something completely different—well, not completely—in business it can be just as scary to be inadvertently labeled the bad guy. Specifically, I am talking about how to avoid your business ending up on an email blacklist.
Is getting blacklisted really a big deal? YES!
First, if you are thinking, “Getting blacklisted is no big deal. I’ll just notify Google and they’ll take me off the list,” know that it is never that simple. It is an arduous process and doesn’t always lead to success. You will need to fill out a Removal Form supplying evidence that your server is not spamming people. This will require you to spend time investigating your server and if your server is especially busy, this could require A LOT of time. But it gets worse. Even after investigating your server, you won’t always know why your IP has been blacklisted. Gmail does not disclose the details of their filtering process. And besides, this process only clears your name with Google. Other companies, like Symantec and Sucuri also keep internal blacklists.
Tips for building your contact list:
- NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER buy names. Need I say more? Not really. But I will. Sure, buying 50,000 names and email addresses seems like a quick and easy way to generate leads for your sales team. But if you are using email marketing software (or an amazing marketing team, like the one we have at Spring Insight), reputable marketers will insist on opt-in email lists. And even if you do send out emails to these 50,000 strangers, the people on this list haven’t agreed to receive emails from your company, so they will likely mark you as spam. The very real possibility is that using purchased names will get your IP blocked and have ripple effects on your ability to market (even in a “safe” way) going forward.
- Get permission of some sort to send emails. There are lots of creative ways to grow your opt-in email list. If you enjoy creating webinars, eBooks, templates, etc., users who find your material useful often will be happy to give you their email addresses. Public speaking is another great way to grow your list. But be careful. If you go to a conference or are a member of a group and get a list of emails, this alone isn’t permission to put them on your newsletter list. If clients or people you meet express interest in your business, it’s best to ask them if you can add them. Also, don’t dip too far backwards into your virtual Rolodex for emails. People who you haven’t contacted in more than, say six months-a year are much less likely to remember you and could report you as a spammer.
- Use an email cleaning service like Datavalidation before sending your first email campaign. Datavalidation checks the health of your email list and gives you a score based on the percentage of “deliverable and engaged” email addresses on your list. If someone has moved on to a new job since they met you and their email bounces, that still counts against you, even if they didn’t report your email as spam. Datavalidation also syncs to your ESP list and automatically unsubscribes undeliverable email addresses. Not only will this kind of service help you to avoid accidentally spamming people, it will give your marketing campaign a better shot of successfully generating good leads.
As you can see, it is super hard to recover after you’ve been blacklisted. So, you are much better off being careful and deliberate about how you build your email contact list in the first place.
So, now that you know how to aim for The Good, while avoiding The Bad, and The Ugly web scenarios, you can get back to preparing for scary stuff in the real world. (How am I going to finish that Halloween costume in time for Saturday night? How much candy should I buy for the trick-or-treaters? How do I keep everyone from needing expensive dental work before the end of the year?)
Erika Dickstein started Spring Insight in 2011. Since that time she has had the honor of helping dozens of business, both local to the Bethesda, Maryland area and nationally, step up their web presence. These organizations have crossed the gamut from solo practitioners to private equity firms with hundreds of millions of dollars under management. Want to read more about the organizations she has worked with? Check out our website strategy and design portfolio. You can view her profile HERE.