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Aug 09, 2001
How To

Publishers: Stop AOL, Hotmail & Yahoo from Putting Newsletters into

SUMMARY: If you publish an email newsletter, you definitely should read this story today (and maybe forward a copy to whoever is in charge of your newsletter email distribution.) Even big-name newsletter publishers, such as NUA and Lockergnome, have been hurt when Yahoo and other email systems put their issues in "bulk" mailboxes instead of subscribers' regular email boxes.
The number one problem facing email newsletter publishers today is the fact that the email services that millions of subscribers use to get issues -- AOL, Yahoo Email and Hotmail -- now have systems which automatically dump any incoming email they deem to be "bulk" into bulk-boxes. Since most bulk mail is legitimate advertising or spam, most people rarely, if ever, open their bulk boxes to check what's arrived. (Do you?)

So, after the hard work of getting a subscriber to opt-in for your newsletter, they then never see it. Which means they won't help you grow circ by passing it to friends. And they won't click on any of the ads (whether for your own products or your sponsors'.)

This problem affects both business and consumer publishers because so many opt-ins now use one of the big three. Even in a B2B setting, many executives use a free account for their newsletters to separate them from their regular email; to enable access from home offices after working hours; and, to make subscription management easier when they switch jobs.

We contacted Todd Kellner, COO of List-Universe (a great resource site for entrepreneurial newsletter publishers) for his advice on how publishers can avoid getting dumped into bulk. He said:

1. How to Avoid AOL Bulk:
AOL has a process for automatic removal that they've always attempted to shroud in mystery. What it boils down to is this: call them at 703.265.4670 and select "1" when prompted. You will never reach them directly via this number, but if you leave enough messages, someone will call you back.

Tell them that you want to ensure that all your mail gets through. They will look for complaints from AOL users and check your servers for open relays. If you pass the test, you will be added to their "OK'd" list.

Once you've made a contact at AOL, it becomes easier to maintain dialogue. The initial phase of this process can take up a decent amount of time, but be persistent. That AOL number again: 703.265.4670.

2. How to avoid Yahoo and Hotmail Bulk (Note: Doesn't always work)
The primary item that Yahoo! and Hotmail's "bulk folders" look at is the "precedence:bulk" header. Most list hosting software allows for you to remove the precedence SMTP header. This will ensure that the "bulk" red flag doesn't go off."

I'm only really familiar with SparkLIST's interface regarding this subject. All you have to do using Lyris software is go to "List Info," scroll down to "Remove Headers" and type "Precedence" into the box.
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