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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Emailing Groups – The Right Way

May 22nd, 2014

Are you aware that how you send emails to your customers can dramatically affect the viability of your entire business? In the most extreme cases emailing to customers the wrong way can result in your entire domain being frozen or shut down.

While a successful email marketing strategy involves much more, there are a few basics that you must adhere too to protect the good name of your business and prevent potentially serious problems with your company’s ability to deliver emails of all types to vendors, clients and customers.

1. Never send to large groups using Outlook or Webmail!

Have you ever logged into your individual email account and sent an email to a group of customers by adding them all to the bcc field? Or have you ever taken a larger list of customer email address and broken them up into smaller sequential emails?

Because of the prevalence of spam, email service providers and ISP’s closely monitor emails sent to multiple addressees as well as the frequency in which they’re sent. ISP’s and service providers tend to be overly cautious and favor erring on the side of preventing potential spam. Therefore  they are likely to flag your email/domain as potential spam when they see this type of group sending activity. In some cases I’ve seen email service suspended as a warning for 24 hours if too many such emails are sent, and, in extreme cases, the Website and email for your domain can be shut down.  This threat exists when sending through an individual account no matter how legitimate the email is and how much your recipients want to receive it.

The best alternative is to utilize one of the large 3rd party email marketing companies, namely VerticalResponse or Constant Contact. They send millions of emails each month and have the ability, because of their size and volume, to safeguard that your domain name does not get associated with spam. Not only will your domain name be protected, for their nominal cost, there are many other advantages such as tracking and the ability to have have a custom HTML email design developed for your brand.

2. Never buy lists of email addresses from 3rd parties!

There is a good reason why Constant Contact and Vertical Response do not allow the use of third party email lists . . . they are often not poor quality in terms of relevancy, they tend to result in a much higher rate being marked for spam by recipients (thus potentially blacklisting your domain) and most importantly there is no way to verify that these lists were obtained legally. In short, they present a very high risk of damage to your domain name and the deliverablity of all your company’s email . . . just don’t do it!  For more information on this topic and insight about best practice email marketing visit Word to the Wise or Deliverability.com; both great sites about email, delivery and spam.

There are of course legitimate ways to collect addresses for your email  marketing—you can start with this these 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business provided by VerticalResponse.

3. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act on all your marketing related emails (It’s not hard).

While admittedly The FTC is not overly aggressive in prosecuting, the fact remains that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. This should serve as good motivation to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  4. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  5. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  6. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

For full details on these email guidelines, see the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Facts for Business.

PowerPoint Background Design Pointer . . . Less is More

March 13th, 2014

Some great advice from the design sage John McWade from Before & After Magazine

How to change DNS, a checklist

January 4th, 2014

Before Authorizing Your Domain’s DNS/ Name Server Change

  1. Back up your email. We strongly recommend you install a POP email client on your local PC or Mac and download all the emails from your existing account before a service transfer. If you use a POP client like MS Outlook this means that copies of your emails are stored on your local PC or Mac. If you manage all your email using a Web Mail application this means that all your email and email folders are stored on your current Web server. Be aware that when a DNS change is complete all those emails and folders in your Web mail account will be irrevocably lost during the change process. If you do use Web based mail, please insure that you download any emails or folders you wish preserved. One option is to download your email from your Web account using a POP client like MS Outlook or Apple Mail. If you don’t have a POP client Mozilla Thunderbird can be downloaded here for no charge.
  2. Insure that your existing email accounts (e.g. myname@mydomain.com) are set up on your new mail servers prior to the DNS change so that as soon as the change is complete your emails will be received by your new mail server.
  3. If applicable, insure that you have the Website you want to be displayed at your domain installed and ready on your new hosting account.
  4. Understand that while most DNS changes are completed within 24 hours they can take longer (as explained in more detail below).
  5. Understand that while most DNS changes result in no or nominal interruptions in your Website access and email service they can result in interruptions that last longer (explained in more detail below).
  6. Understand that when the DNS changes are submitted, the process is completely in the hands of the top-level domain registers and numerous backbone and secondary DNS servers and there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process once changes are submitted.


Understanding What Happens During and After DNS / Name Server Changes

Initiating this DNS change with a domain register may affect the hosting, DNS servers, and email servers associated your domain. This means that when the transfer process is complete:

1. When your domain name is entered in a browser, it will display the Website installed at on your new hosting account; the content of your old hosting account will not be displayed or accessible using your domain name. If you have an active site at your domain, this means prior to authorizing this DNS change you must insure that your new hosting server displays the site you want your visitors to see. This of course does not apply if you currently are not displaying a Website at your domain.

2. When someone sends you an email, that email will be routed to a new mail server; the content of your old mail server will no longer be accessible. This means that you can only retrieve your domain’s email by going to the new URL we provide for Web mail and, if using MS Outlook or another POP client, by entering the new account information (such as your POP and SMTP server addresses) provided by us or your new service provider.

When a DNS change is submitted, typically the changes take place within 24 hours; meaning that the Website (if applicable) on your new hosting account appears when your domain is entered in a Web browser and you view and send email using your new accounts mail settings. While 24 hours is typical, there is no set or guaranteed time frame the changes will be finalized. The changes can take a number of days and, very infrequently, up to 7 days to complete.

Please be aware that once the DNS changes are submitted with your current DNS service provider, the process is completely in the hands of third parties and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to expedite the change process (called propagation). DNS propagation is a complex process of updating top-level index records, International Root Name Servers, ISP’s, Internet Backbone Service Providers and even the internal routers or servers of your own company (if applicable).

As stated, the vast majority of DNS name changes are complete within 24 hours or less. However, you must understand and accept the possibility that your domain name server change may take longer.

Potential Temporary Service Interruptions During a DNS / Name Server Change Process

Website
Typically, DNS changes occur sooner rather than later and provide a seamless and often transparent transition for site users. If the Website installed on your new hosting account prior to the DNS change is an exact duplication of the site on your old hosting account, it’s likely your site visitors will never know any changes have taken place. However, it is not uncommon for a period of seemingly odd or unpredictable behavior to occur during the change process, such as your site not appearing, your new site appearing then reverting back to your old site, etc. If this occurs it is temporary and is manifesting only because of the series of complex record changes that are taking place behind the scene.

Email
For email, you will know your DNS change is complete (or nearly complete) when you find your current POP client or Web mail settings no longer work. You will then use your new email server access instructions and soon be able to send and view email using your same email address associated with your domain (note: new accounts with matching addresses have to be manually set up on your new mail servers first). With Email, even in best case scenarios, there is often a brief period (usually a few hours) when your email address will not work and those who send email to your address may get it returned.

If any of these behaviors are experienced with your Website and Email, they may manifest sporadically during the update process, which as mentioned before is typically lasts 24 hours or less but can take longer.

Best Practices – Facebook Marketing

December 2nd, 2013

VerticalResponse has one of the best condensations of how to manage your business’ Facebook page that I’ve seen. If your business has a Facebook page I strongly recommend checking it out. Looking for someone to manage your Facebook branding, marketing and posts?  Let us know, we can work with you to develop and manage your online, social media and email marketing.

Courtesy of: VerticalResponse

 

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