That’s not SPAM, That’s My Newsletter!


Nine great tips to keep YOUR newsletter from falling prey to spam filters and ending up in the trash.





For those of us who receive way too many unsolicited emails, Spam
filters are a blessing. According to Maria Gracia, Publisher of
Get Organized Now! (http://www.getorganizednow.com/), “filters are
powerful tools for keeping one organized.” Switch to the
publisher’s side of the desk, though, and Spam filters can become
problematic.

Before you can keep your opt-in newsletter out of the Spam
filter’s reach, you have to learn a little about the kinds of
Spam filters available. Currently, options range from those
installed by an ISP, like Spam Assassin, to those that run with
another program, like Microsoft’s Outlook, as is the case with
cloudmark’s SpamNet. Spam Assassin uses a point system to
determine whether or not a piece of email is Spam. The more
points a particular email collects, the more likely it is to be
Spam. SpamNet not only filters based on key words (free!, for
instance), but also allows users to submit Spam to be
blocked from other users.

The other component you’ll need to be aware of is the blacklist.
Most of the available Spam filters use one or more
of these collections of email addresses and domain names that
send out a lot of Spam. Blacklists are primarily compiled by
volunteers. In other words, you mail them the Spam you receive in
your inbox, they take a look at it and then decide whether or not
to add the sender to their list.

Because Spam filters have both a computer component (such as the
points system used by Spam Assassin), and a human component (such
as the blacklists and the new system from SpamNet), you’ll need
to make sure your newsletter doesn’t raise flags in either camp.
Here are some suggestions for avoiding problems.

Human Tips

1. Never send your newsletter unsolicited, not even to current or
past customers (it’s easy enough to ask them if they’d like to be
subscribed with a personal email). In fact, it’s a risk even to
send your newsletter to a list you’ve purchased no matter what
you’ve been told about the intent of the list’s subscribers; can
you be sure all of the subscribers expected to receive your email
on widgets just because they checked a box saying they were
interested in widgets? This will help keep you off the
blacklists.

2. Provide what you say you will, when you say you will. Don’t
mislead your audience at the subscribing stage and don’t send out
emails with manipulative subject lines. Not only is this not good
for your reputation, but it may also trigger common Spam filters.
Cathy Stucker, publisher of Bright Ideas (www.idealady.com),
advises sending your newsletter with the newsletter’s name as the
beginning of the subject line, saying, “Subscribers recognize
[the newsletter], and it makes it easy to keep issues together.”

3. Don’t type all in caps. A hallmark of the Nigerian Bank Scam,
typing all in caps isn’t just rude; it may get your newsletter
forwarded to a blacklist. Additionally, make sure to capitalize
the beginnings of your sentences and otherwise use professional
grammar and punctuation. An unprofessional email may be more
likely to arouse the suspicions of your readers.

4. Andy Birol, of Birol Growth Consulting (http://www.andybirol.com/),
suggests maintaining credibility is also crucial, saying if “the
audience sees you as credible and your message as truly adding
value [then] you will have people who choose to get it.” Some
ezine publishers have found their ezines are so popular, people
who stop receiving the emails actually complain.

5. Make your policy clear. Tell readers how to unsubscribe at
your website and in your newsletter. Let them know who to contact
if they have any trouble. And, of course, make sure to follow
through immediately.

Computer Tips

5. Steer clear of subject lines that scream SPAM! Words like
“free,” “limited time,” and “money” often trigger Spam filters.
Take a look at the Spam in your own inbox for examples of words
not to use.

5. Offer directions for “subscribing” and “unsubscribing.”
Spammers often use the word “remove” in their emails, so you’ll
want to avoid it at all costs. Plus, in some Spam filters, you
actually lose points (the fewer points, the less likely an email
is Spam) when you offer subscribing and unsubscribing
instructions.

6. Send it from a reputable domain name, or better yet, your own.
Free email addresses are often used heavily by Spammers, so
you’ll want to stay away from them if at all possible. If your
host doesn’t offer mailing list capabilities, Maria Gracia suggests
Sparklist.com. You may also find ConstantContact.com to be
effective.

7. Don’t send attachments. Most email readers regard attachments
with suspicion anyway and the attachment may trigger Spam filters
set up to screen adult material. Both are good reasons to send
your entire email in the body of the email. Still not convinced?
Many of your readers will have limited inbox space; by avoiding
attachments you won’t give them an extra reason to delete your
newsletter unread.

When you keep up-to-date on the latest Spam filter technology,
you may find Spam filters are actually your allies–they may mean
your newsletter will have less competition in your reader’s
inbox.

Do you want your newsletter to look just like your competition’s?
Of course not! That’s why you need The Write Exposure; they’ll
design a newsletter focused on your USP. Visit Jessica’s website at:
http://www.designdoodles.com today.