Having Trouble with Email Acquisition?

Posted by George Bilbrey 

There are a lot of good case studies about people using email for acquisition and not getting into trouble because of it. Unfortunately, in our deliverability business, we see a lot of folks getting into trouble because of list rental and/or co-registration vendors with less than stellar practices.

The problems that you are most likely to run into are mostly in the deliverability variety rather than the legal variety. What I mean by running into trouble is that your domain/URLs/creative may become latched onto.

There are some simple things that you can do to vet (for deliverability) third party list rental vendors in order to keep the best sending practices possible:

  • Ask them provide you with URLs where they gather the information. Is sufficient notice and choice given? Do you know what you’re signing up for?
  • Sign up for the list and take learn if it is the kind of email you’d like to receive yourself. Is the amount of email they send worrisome?
  • Check to see if they use a confirmation message? Did they require you to click on a link to get on the list? If they are using double-opt-in email collection, that usually eliminates most spam trap problems.
  • Take a look at the IP address that is sending the mail – is it on spam trap driven DNSBL (blacklist) like cbl.abuseat.org? Spam Cop is another good source of Spam Trap data. Spam Traps are very problematic because they drive a lot of the machine learning spam filters. Your domain, URLs or other components of your creative may become fingerprinted.
  • Try to get a feel for whether this vendor has a complaint problem or not. Right now the best public source of that data is Spam Cop and Cloudmark (for URL-based domain complaints). If their IP has been listed on Spam Cop consistently I would steer clear.

These easy steps do not take long and can drastically reduce the deliverability risk you take when using email as a tool for customer acquisition.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at Worldprints.com and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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