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Jun 11, 2003
How To

Big Threats for Emailers Part II: False Positives & Offers Sent to Junk Lists in Your Name

SUMMARY: In Part II of our special report for legitimate mailers and brands trying to avoid problems posed by the increase in junk email, you will find:
a. What to do when your mail is stopped by Corporate filters
b. Junk Mail Still Arriving from 15 Legitimate Brands
c. List of Some Third-Party Offer Emailers Using Junk Lists
Definitely worth a read if you send any broadcast email at all or if you let third party mailers send on your behalf.
In Part II of our special report on the ways in which legitimate brands can cope with the problems of spam-influx, we will bring you solutions for three specific areas of concern:

a. What to do when your mail is stopped by Corporate filters
b. Junk Mail Still Arriving from 15 Legitimate Brands
c. List of Some Third-Party Offer Emailers Using Junk Lists

-> a. What to do when your mail is stopped by Corporate filters

In the past, emailers have prided themselves on having a high percent of at-work email addresses on their list because work addresses tend to have a longer lifespan, fewer bounces from full boxes, and are checked more frequently than other email addresses.

For 2003 everything has changed.

Seems like every company's IT department has just bought or upgraded their email filter system in a tremendous effort to stop unwanted mail, and for many systems the false positive rate is scary-high.

(In fact Brightmail's CEO Enrique Salem told us their filter sales to corporations have risen from 5% in 2002 to 70% of his sales today. It is worth noting though, that Brightmail is one of the few filters that does not produce a big false positive rate.)

This means your subscribers' IT departments are stopping mail
from getting through, even if it is permission email.

Before you had to worry about getting your mail through a few big
pipelines such as AOL and Hotmail. Now you have to worry about
individual filters at a zillion different companies.

Here are some quick solutions from Matt Highsmith, CEO TailoredMail:

Step 1: Ask your email department to give you two reports.
The first a list of hard bounces by company name, and the second
a list of long-term non-opens by company name. You are looking to
see if there are any patterns.

Does everyone at a particular company bounce or not open your
mail? Probably means that company's filter is stopping the mail
before it gets to the end recipients.

Step 2: Try sending this list of bounces and non-opens a
stripped down email, something so clean and simple that few
filters would stop it. It should contain just a sentence or two
using careful language not generally filtered on, with an offer
and only two click links (one to accept the offer and one to get
off the list).

The offer can be something fun for the recipient, perhaps a quiz
to see how smart they are, or a special discount, anything that
you know your list likes a whole lot.

The stripped-down email should get through systems that are
stopping your other mail because the typical size is too big, or
you have too many links, or any other reasons.

Ask your email department to put everyone who opens and/or clicks
on this email onto a special list so you can send them a stripped
version of your regular mailings from now on.

Your future mail to them may not be as exciting as your regular
creative, but at least it will get through.

Step 3: Try sending mail to everyone for whom the stripped
message did not work, via a different IP address than the IP you
normally send mail from.

These users' corporate IT departments may be filtering your mail
simply based on the fact that they get a lot of mail from your IP
address (irregardless of whether it is requested mail). This
solution may clear it up short term.

Long term, you will need to send a special message to these names,
perhaps via your customer service department's email system,
letting them know that their company is filtering your mail. You
can ask that they get their IT departments to put you on a
company whitelist.

However, Highsmith says do not hold out a lot of hope for this.
In many companies, employees do not know who is who in the IT
department to send such as request to. Their IT department
may have other priorities than dealing with such requests.

You can only do your best and hope.

Step 4: Worst case scenario: Ask users who's companies are
turning your mail away to give you an alternate email to send to.

-> b. Junk Mail Still Arriving from 15 Legitimate Brands

We have continued tracking mail coming in our special junk-only
box for the past week, and among the hundreds of pure junk
messages, messages have appeared from at least 15 legitimate
brands who may not know their name is on spam.

The following magazines had offers sent via junk lists:
Disney Magazine
Prevention Magazine
GamePro Magazine
Women's Day Magazine

Plus, these well-known brand names were also prominently featured
in junk mailings:
BMG Music
Oil of Olay
Royal Caribbean
Holland America (cruise line)
Oreo Cookies
Encyclopaedia Brittanica
Cross-Bow by Weider

Several as-seen-on-TV offers also came into the junk-only box:
Sewing Genie
The Finishing Touch
Bob Mann's Automatic Golf

We continued to receive offers from these folks who have been
in the junk box in the past:
Omaha Steaks

In many cases (but not all) the mail was clearly sent by a third-
party on behalf of the offer. We strongly suspect most of these
were CPA (cost per acquisition) or affiliate (commission on
sales) deals where the marketer put their offer out to the world
and allowed anyone who wanted to try to mail it to have a go.

This approach to email rentals saves you money up-front because
you only pay on results. However, you are paying more than money, you are paying in reputation as known-junk mailers send offers
and images of your brand logo to the world.

How can you stop these people? Make sure your contract with CPAs
and affiliates clearly states that no-one using junk lists will
be paid a dime. Then enforce it.

Also, on the side of PR, make sure your own Web site clearly
states your anti-junk policy and provides an easy-to-find "Report
junk mail" form that consumers and your own company employees can
use to let you know when someone is sending mail in your name to
a non-permission list.

People are more than happy to help you police your brand's
mailings, it makes them feel you care.

Example to follow:

Trimlife, a company who rely 100% on CPA and affiliate
advertising for customers, have stopped junk mailers from sending
offers on their behalf, and reassured the public, by placing an
anti-junk notice and reporting form on their home page.

To be inspired by their example, go to:
and look in the lower left corner.

-> c. List of Some Third-Party Offer Emailers Using Junk Lists

Last but not least, here is a list of the mailers who have sent
offers in the past 24 hours, mentioning or on behalf of other
brand names, whose emails arrived in our "junk" email address
that only a junk list builder who harvests names without
permission would have.

If you are renting lists from these people, or engaged in
CPA/Affiliate deals with them, you definitely should contact them
requesting proof that the names they mail are honestly-truly

In some cases these mailers may themselves have rented lists they
did not realize were junk. It may be an honest mistake on their
part, or not.

No matter what, it is your brand name that is at risk. Check
out the list and take action to keep yourself safe.

Cosmic Offers
Inclusive Offers
Brand Directions
e*Biz Media Group
Great Deals Network
NCI Marketing
One Step Marketing
Moonstone Mail
Opt-In America
Xtreme Savings

Link to Part I of this Special Report from last week:

See Also:

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