Delivering marketing e-mails to a customer database is no longer a simple matter of hitting the 'send' button.
Major ISPs expect owners of e-mail marketing lists to stick to certain rules of good conduct and filter out those that don't comply so their messages don't reach the intended recipients. The impact of anti-spam legislation also needs to be kept in mind.
Keeping up to date with all of these rules shouldn't be a marketer's job in an ideal world - this is a discipline that is best outsourced to a specialist e-mail vendor. However, if you are in a position where you need to manage this aspect of e-mail delivery yourself, here are some basic rules to follow:1. Publish your Sender Policy Framework Records (SPF)
An SPF record verifies the legitimacy of your messages to receiving e-mail servers. I also recommend that you publish your SPF records for your corporate e-mail servers to protect your mail systems from being spoofed or forged - a step that will help to protect the integrity of your brand.
To view why you need accreditation and reputation see here http://spf.pobox.com/aspen.html
. How do I publish Sender Policy Framework Records (SPF)?
You need to ask whoever in your organisation is responsible for maintaining your DNS records and corporate e-mail servers to help you publish the SPF. They can create your SPF record using the SPF Wizard found at: http://spf.pobox.com/wizard.html?mydomain=&x=19&y=9
. The final step in publishing your SPF record is to paste the record created by SPF wizard into your zone file.
You can test the implementation by going to http://www.dnsstuff.com/pages/spf.htm
. For this you will need to know your sender address (for example, email@example.com) and the sender IP address (ask your e-mail vendor or IT department for help). 2.) Complying with the ECT ACT and marketing best practice
Complying with the ECT Act is relatively easy, but South African companies, especially those involved in cross-border business, should also adhere with the more rigorous anti-spam legislation set out in First World countries such as the US. These laws reflect best marketing practice - standards that will ensure that ISPs and customers hold your company and its brand in high regard. A valid return e-mail address and the physical address of the sender should be clearly identified. Marketers are encouraged to use their company or brand names in their domain address and prominently throughout the message.
An e-mail should clearly identify the sender and the subject matter at the beginning of the communication.
All commercial e-mail (except for billing purposes) must provide consumers with a clear and conspicuous electronic option to be removed from lists for future e-mail messages from the sender. The removal process must be easy to find and easy to use.
Marketers should not acquire e-mail addresses surreptitiously through automated mechanisms without the consumer's consent.
E-mail lists must not be sold or provided to unrelated third parties unless the owner of the list has provided notice and the ability to be removed from such transfer to each e-mail address on the list.
An ISP may block your e-mails if your IP address is on a DNS block list, if the recipients of your messages are not valid users or if your connecting host isn't authorised to send mail from its domain.
IP addresses that become known for sending out a lot of spam tend to end up on blacklists, which mean that many ISPs will not deliver messages from those addresses to their customers.
When a listed IP address meets certain criteria laid out by the operator of the block list, it can be removed from the list. It is easy to be blacklisted but difficult to be removed from block-lists, especially if you do not even know at which source your IP address is being blocked. The best way to avoid this is to follow the basic principles outlined above.
The role of e-mail vendors
Outsourcing the functions above to a specialist saves time and money, and frees marketers up to focus on their core functions. Choose an e-mail provider that is on top of all the latest developments that impact on the delivery of marketing e-mails, including sender policy framework (SPF), sender ID, spam legislation and ISP filters.
The e-mail vendor should also have strong working relationships with the major ISPs to ensure that your e-mail IP address is not on the list of blocked addresses (and to negotiate for speedy unblocking if it is) and keep up to date with which rules ISP's use for filtering systems to ensure that your e-mails do reach end-users.