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Oct 29, 2003
How To

Why Your FROM: Email Address & Name Should Never Change:7 Rules plus AOL 9.0 & Outlook 2003 Visuals

SUMMARY: Does your company or brand always, always, always use the same FROM: email address when sending broadcasts to your house list? If you don't, it's going to hurt your campaign results especially with AOL and Outlook users.

This story includes a fascinating series of screenshots revealing how the new AOL 9.0 buddy list works. Our tech editor Jill Keogh tested it out for you (look for the screenshot link at the end of the story on our site).
By Tech Editor Jill Keogh

If you want to avoid filters and increase open rates, you will need to pick a static “FROM:” name and email that you use across all mailings to your house list.

This becomes the email address that gets whitelisted (and easily recognized) by your regular readers. If you change it, welcome to the land-of-block-and-delete.

-> 7 Quick Rules
-> AOL 9.0
-> Outlook 2003
-> 5 Brief Notes for Techies
-> Useful Related Links

-> 7 Quick Rules:

Rule #1. Pick a “FROM:” email address and name and stick with it. Plan on living it with it for years.

Rule #2. Your FROM: does not need to be an email address that relates back to your email broadcast service or software. You don't have to send from some crazy email address like

Rule #3. Call your email broadcast service and demand your FROM: name the way you want it. Services must be able to accommodate this. If they can’t, you'd better adore your FROM: address or start shopping for new list hosts.

Rule #4. AOL users don't see your written-out FROM:, they only see the email address. One more reason to make sure it matches your brand and doesn't change from send to send. Remember that people look at the first few characters in a FROM: first, so put your brand up front and not a generic word or department name. Don't wait until the @ to put in your brand name.

Rule #5. Don’t change FROM: addresses to track marketing stats and info. Track marketing promotions some other way. (Note: Some broadcast services change the FROM: every time you send, just for tracking, so this may be a huge problem for you.)

Rule #6. The “Reply-To:” email address can be different than the FROM: address and that can help you route responses by campaign without endangering your whitelisting status.

Rule #7. Big relief -- After your FROM: address is added to an AOL member's people I know address book, it will remain whitelisted thereafter whether you use it in the FROM: or Reply-To: fields.

You can use that identical email address in the “Reply-to:” field even if your new from is different. The email will still route into the “People I know” folder provided it was originally a whitelisted FROM: address.

-> AOL 9.0

As we've written before, it's critical to get your FROM: address "whitelisted" by every single AOL 9.0 user who's on your list. If your FROM: email address is not on their "People I Know" list, your HTML graphics and hotlinks will cease to work, plus you may not get through to their mailbox at all.

Note: We’re not talking about that techie FROM: address buried in the headers (used for bounce handling and not visible in the illustration), such as
The whitelisted FROM: address is the visible email address. This is the one to pick and stick with.

Even if you don't have many AOL names on your list, you should start testing tactics to get yourself on the People I Know list because AOL is setting precedents that may affect the rest of the email world shortly. Other ISPs are watching AOL closely to see how well the new system works.So, after you finish reading this article, definitely click on the link (below) to visually see how the AOL system works for users. (We've posted handy screenshots for you.)

-> Outlook 2003

Although the estimated 200,000,000 Outlook users won't change to the new Outlook 2003 system overnight, the new version will slowly-but-surely dominate the email world - so you need to be aware of how it works.

Outlook 2003 users can add email addresses to their safe list in one of a couple of ways:

1. Users can click on the email and add the sender, or the entire sender’s domain ( to their safe list.

2. Users can add all their personal contacts to their safe list fairly easily. This includes the emails they add to their address book as well as the emails they reply-to. (Link to screenshot of this below.)

3. If a user selects ‘Mark as Not Junk’ the sender’s email will be routed to the inbox from that point forward regardless of content.

Side note: How will emailed graphics display in Outlook 2003?

By default graphics will be off. This protects the user’s
privacy by not relaying an email address back to sender when the Outlook Preview is viewed.

-> 5 Brief Notes for Techies

1. The envelope from (in the headers) is not what is
whitelisted. The FROM: line for the address book is.

2. DNS reverse lookup does not have any relevance for most ISPs to the process of getting whitelisted by the subscriber. Some may lookup your IP address to see if you are blacklisted, but DNS reverse lookup is looking for problems with open relays and to see if your email is improperly configured.

3. ISPs are not typically using DNS lookup to match up a From address to the domain sending the email. In fact, they know they often don’t match.

For instance your list will not match the email (domain) in the From address. Do not go to the trouble of trying to get your server configured and pointed to your list host. It’s not necessary for whitelisting and won’t fail filtering because they don’t match.

4. All legitimate bulk email list hosts should have a reverse DNS for every IP that correctly resolves. If any do not, they will probably not pass filtering.

5. If your email is blocked, don’t just bail out and change FROM: or IP addresses. Whatever caused you to be blocked, will happen again. You get better control by remaining static in these two variables. This will help you get better results with the ISPs (and blacklisters). Changing your FROM: and IP every time someone blocks you, puts you on a treadmill going nowhere.

-> Useful links related to this article:

Screenshots of the AOL 9.0 and Outlook 2003 Buddy Process:

Last week's related-article about the critical importance of static IP addresses (open access until Nov 1st):

See Also:

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