Monday, 4 September 2017

Why and When Do Email Accounts Expire?

Email addresses are not permanent. In fact, a historically active email address may suddenly croakwithout warning or a farewell notemuch to an email marketer's dismay.
Such email addresses that vanish into the ether do come with a somewhat bland obituary, though, in the form of a non-delivery report (NDR). The NDR generally indicates a useful yet enduring error, such as: "no such user" "mailbox not found""the mailbox has been deactivated""the recipient has moved on so please stop mailing". (OK, I may have made up the last one.) These are what are known as hard bounces.
Hard bounces indicate an invalid email address or an address that is no longer in use. For this post, we'll focus on the latter case as it applies to webmail accounts: Why do some email addresses at popular webmail providers, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo!, suddenly become undeliverable?
Here are the most common reasons why a once-valid email address might be deactivated. 
  1. The user has chosen to close the account. It's easy to open a webmail account, and it is just as easy to close one. Users who decide to ditch their existing email address usually have an online, self-service option to permanently deactivate their mailbox with any of the top webmail providers.
  2. The account has been deactivated for abuse. Webmail accounts are governed by the provider's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) or Terms of Service (TOS). If a particular account has been investigated and verified by the webmail provider to violate their AUP or TOS, that account may be terminated immediately if the violation warrants it.
  3. The email account has turned dormant. Webmail accounts are free to register for, but they do come with storage and other costs to their providers. As such, most providers periodically deactivate accounts that are no longer used. Specifically, if an email account has not been logged in to for a certain period of time (more info on specific timeframes below), then that account will be deemed dormant and will be a candidate for automatic deactivation. The routine purging of inactive accounts from the system helps providers maximize their resources. 
As one of the tenets of list hygiene is to stop emailing an address that results in a permanent error (aka hard bounce), this information can help senders understand why there is constant attrition within their mailing lists. Furthermore, here's specific guidelines on when popular providers deem an account as dormant and, therefore, eligible for deactivation:
AOL = 90 days of inactivity
Gmail = 9 months of inactivity
Hotmail = 270 days of inactivity
Yahoo! Mail = 6 months (or more) of inactivity

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Why email landing in gmail SPAM?

Google’s Gmail service now gives you some warning as to why an email is flagged for spam. If your newsletters are being trapped by Gmail spam filters, you might want to have a look and see what the reasons are. Here’s how. First, make sure your Gmail account is subscribed to your list. If your message is flagged for spam, go into your spam folder and find it.
Gmail spam warning
Click on the message to see details about why it’s in your spam folder:

Gmail will list one of 8 different spam warnings:

  • Why is this message in Spam? We’ve found that lots of messages from are spam.
  • Why is this message in Spam? It’s similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters.
  • Why is this message in Spam? It contains content that’s typically used in spam messages.
  • This message was likely forged and did not originate from your account.
  • This message may not have been sent by:
  • Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.
  • Be careful with this message. Many people marked similar messages as spam.
  • Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link.
Let’s take a brief look at what each might mean for your email marketing program.

Reputation Problems

These two messages indicate that you have a reputation problem – that a lot of people are marking your messages as spam:
  • Be careful with this message. Many people marked similar messages as spam.
  • Why is this message in Spam? We’ve found that lots of messages from are spam.
If your email marketing is flagged with either of these messages, your reputation is in the trash. You need to consider things like re-engagement campaigns, pruning your list of bad or non-responsive email accounts, and generally improving your reputation among subscribers. People might be flagging you for deceptive subject lines or your unsubscribe link is so buried that they just flag you as spam instead. Bottom line: you need to send more good email and less bad email. Crank up your value, remove bad subscribers, and dig in for the long term reputation recovery.

Authentication Problems

These two messages indicate there’s an authentication problem with your email service provider and your account.
  • This message was likely forged and did not originate from your account.
  • This message may not have been sent by:
There’s a good chance that your DNS records are not set up correctly and/or you’re not using Sender ID, SPF, and other common email authentication mechanisms to certify that you are who you say you are. Fix those, and your messages should stop getting flagged for these criteria over time.

Content Problems

These two messages indicate that you’ve got a content problem.
  • Why is this message in Spam? It’s similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters.
  • Why is this message in Spam? It contains content that’s typically used in spam messages.
Your content has problems. It’s been judged not valuable or contains content that is such a hard sell that it triggers Google’s content-based filters. Things like all-image emails or overuse of sales promotional words and phrases are to blame here, so make sure there’s legitimate editorial content in your messages to balance out the sales pitches. Bottom line: send more valuable email, email that people actually want, and they’ll stop flagging it as spam. Make sure you have prominent unsubscribe links and use the List-Unsubscribe header option if your email service provider offers it so that people who don’t want to be on your list can leave instead of flagging you as spam.

Serious Content Problems

These two messages shouldn’t be seen with your email marketing.
  • Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link.
  • Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.
Generally, these are reserved for messages that are phishing scams. If your email marketing is being flagged as spam with either of these two messages, you have a serious problem. Chances are, someone has hacked into your server or account on your email service provider (a case for strong passwords) and is sending scam emails from it. Contact your IT administrator or email service provider account manager immediately to get help.
If you don’t already have one, consider setting up a free GMail account and subscribing to your own newsletters just to get access to these kinds of spam reporting mechanisms. GMail is one of the first email services that offers this level of transparency about why a message is spam to the end user, which is immensely helpful to you as an email marketer.
For NetGains customers using our Professional, Broadcaster, or Publicaster editions, contact your account manager if you have questions about implementing any of the solutions discussed in this article. We’re happy to help. If you’re not a NetGains customer but would like to be to get access to a dedicated account manager who can help solve problems like these,

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Before You Email Your List — Read First

…You created a new product.
…You gave it a great name.
…You went all-out in search of publicity.
…You offered cool opt-ins and attracted fantastic new subscribers.
…You waited two weeks for the excitement to die down and to get yourself in order, and now you’re ready to email your list for the first time.
This is a common scenario…usually followed by a BIG mistake.
What do most people do in your situation? They jump right into an email funnel with their brand-new opt-ins. Makes sense, right? After all, they gave you their email address. They want to hear from you.
Not so fast, though. These people gave you their email address one week, two weeks, maybe even three or four weeks ago. Do they even remember signing up? Probably not. If you start sending subscribers sales emails after a few weeks of radio silence, they won’t even remember who you are.
You won’t get sales — all you’ll get is a pile of unsubscribes.
There’s nothing more annoying that getting an email and having NO clue who sent it, why you’re getting it and why they’re bugging you. It’s the same thing as being cold-called by a telemarketer. You’re a thousand times more likely to get a hang-up than close a sale.

There’s only one way to communicate with your cold list. You have to warm it up.

Just like you need to thaw a frozen turkey before you can really start cooking, you need to warm your list before you can really start selling.
Warming your list means reconnecting with your list. If you’ve had a period of no communication, whether it’s two weeks or six months, you have to go through a warming process before you can get back into the swing of normal communication.
After all, you wouldn’t jump into the middle of a conversation at a cocktail party and say “Hey, buy my product!” You’d get nothing but blank stares, and people would stop inviting you to parties altogether.

5 Foolproof Steps to Warming Your List

Start thinking tropical islands, sunny summer days, and hot coffee…because it’s time to get warm.

Step 1 – Reintroduction Email

First, you’re going to send an email to your list to introduce yourself.
You might think your subscribers know who you are — after all, didn’t they recently opt in to hear from you? — but you can’t make that assumption. Chances are, they don’t remember you.
Have you ever met up with a group of people, only to realize there’s someone in the group you’ve only met once? For the life of you, you can’t remember their name. Everyone assumes you know each other, and you feel too awkward to introduce yourself and risk looking silly. So you carry on like you remember them, all the while feeling self-conscious.
What a sense of relief you’d feel if that person walked up to you right when you arrived and said, “Hi, I’m Sameer. I think we met once before, but I wanted to re-introduce myself.”
Problem solved!
That’s exactly what you’ll do in your first email. Be personable, be welcoming, and be informative. Remind subscribers exactly who you are, why they signed up for your emails in the first place, and your mission or goal.
It might sound something like this:
“Hi, I’m Rishi, the founder of NetGains. You’re receiving this email because you recently signed up to find out more about growing the email list of your own. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sending you some helpful information about email lists: how to grow them, how to groom them, and some fun facts about email lists throughout history. I look forward to getting to know you!”
Don’t worry about apologizing for neglecting your list. Just jump in and act like everything’s fine.

Step 2 – Provide Value

Did you notice that the paragraph above didn’t involve any selling? That’s because you need to re-establish your relationship before you start asking your list to buy things.
Would you buy a liter of milk from a guy on the street who walked up to you and said “Hey, buy this milk!”?
Or would you rather buy milk from your neighborhood grocery store, where the employees greet you by name, you have a store loyalty card, and you’ve happily shopped without incident for the last few years?
No one feels comfortable buying something from a total stranger. Who knows what you might get?
So instead of selling, it’s time to give back to your list. Win them over by giving them something valuable for free.
What should you give away for free? Think PDFs, helpful tips, insightful advice — whatever you have to offer that your subscribers will find relevant and interesting. As long as you’re not asking your list to DO anything in return, pretty much any applicable content is okay.
But don’t sell. At this stage, you shouldn’t even ask them to visit your blog. That’s asking your list to do something for you, and you haven’t built a strong enough relationship to make that request that yet.
Instead of sending readers to your blog, copy the content of a blog post right into the body of your email. Make it as easy as possible for your readers to receive your value.
In your quest to provide value, be careful of giving your subscribers too much to read at one time. 2,000 words of content in an email isn’t helpful, it’s annoying. And, just like telling your subscribers to buy your product or visit your blog, plopping a gigantic email in their inbox is like asking them a favor.
Instead, keep things brief. Your content should fill up a single computer screen, or a screen and a half. Don’t ask your readers to scroll down forever and ever, only to find your email never ends.

Step 3 – Get Excited

It’s important for your list to feel your passion throughout your warming emails. They’ll get excited if you’re excited!
A few ways to do this:
Explain why you started this project. What problems were you seeing around you, or experiencing yourself, that made you come up with the idea for your product? Why is this your personal mission?
Share personal anecdotes that are relevant to your readers and show that you feel their pain. This shows that you’re not just a robot sending them emails. It humanizes you and fosters a deeper connection. Your subscribers will think: “Hey, this guy gets me.”
Tell your readers what you’ve been up to. If you’re speaking at a conference, or you just had a phone call with a customer who told you a really cool story about their experience using your product, go ahead and share it.
Express genuine emotion. If you’re thrilled to share some great advice, or if you’re enthusiastic about a news story that relates to your product topic, let your readers know. Adding your own emotional reaction on top of the content you send will make it have a stronger impact.
Be careful about letting your emotion sweep you away into promising things you can’t deliver. It’s easy to get charged up and say “stay tuned tomorrow for 1,000 great tips about growing your goatee!” But if you can’t deliver, don’t make the promise.

Step 4 – Heat Things Up

Continue the warming process with a few more emails that follow the first three steps:
  1. Reintroduce Yourself
  2. Provide Value
  3. Get Excited
You might feel the need to overcompensate — to bombard your list with communication to make up for your period of silence. Don’t do it! Over-emailing can lead to a whole separate issue called Subscriber Burnout, or List Fatigue.
Instead, you’ll send approximately 2 emails a week over the course of two weeks. By the time your list is fully heated, you’ll have sent a grand total of 4-5 emails.
During these two weeks, you may notice some unsubscribes. Do not be alarmed! This is perfectly normal. The percentage of unsubscribes that you’ll get during a warming process is FAR lower than the percentage of unsubscribes you’ll get if you start selling to your list while they’re still cold.
It’s like a freezing cold pool on a hot day. Most people will want to ease into the water slowly instead of being thrown right into the deep end.

Step 5 – Business as usual

Congrats. Now your list is back to normal, at the same place it was when your subscribers first signed up a few weeks (or months) ago.
Once you reach Step 5 and your list is warm, you can begin your educational or marketing campaign.
And don’t let your list go cold again!

3 other times you’ll need to warm your list

We’ve been focusing on a neglected list that’s gone cold before you’ve ever started emailing, but there are other times you’ll need to warm up your readers.

Are you launching a new product?

Let’s say your business sells shoes, and now you’re going to start selling purses, too.
Your list is full of shoe-lovers, not necessarily purse-lovers, and you need to warm them up to the idea that you now sell another product.
By following a two-week warming regiment, you can introduce the idea of purses. You’ll talk about how passionate you are about them, share some helpful information about them, and generally get your list excited about the idea.
After that, you can start actively selling your new product.

Are you an affiliate campaign junkie?

Do you frequently let your list go cold, then warm it up halfway with a couple of emails? Then, do you launch right into an affiliate program?
If you’ve done this more than once, you might be an affiliate campaign junkie.
When you bombard your list with affiliate messaging without taking the time to cultivate a real connection, you’ll lose your list’s trust. They’ll get annoyed quickly. And once you’ve done this once or twice, they’ll stop responding to you.
Instead of letting your list go cold and warming it up just for affiliate promotions, try keeping your list warm all the time. Then, when it’s time to talk affiliates, you can seamlessly add that content to your regular emails without annoying your subscribers.
The key is to establish a relationship, maintain that relationship, and only then try to sell.

Do you have a Chronic Cold List?

If you get too busy to send emails, have trouble coming up with email content, or can’t remember the last time you sent an email, you might have a Chronic Cold List.
Don’t feel bad. This is a common problem, and it usually stems from you trying to do too much and putting your email communication on the back burner.
The best thing you can do to cure Chronic Cold List is to establish an editorial calendar, sometimes called a content calendar. It’s a chart where you can plan and track all of the emails, blog posts, and other content that you are going to release in the next three months.
Editorial calendars are easy to make and are total life-savers. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, a Google calendar, or even some WordPress plugins to help you stay organized and plot your content.
When you’re organized, you’ll be able to get a better view of the big picture. With a better view of the big picture, you’ll be able to see where there are holes in your email strategy. Then, you can plan ahead, creating terrific content well in advance.
You won’t have to scramble to get an email out the door, or wake up one day and realize that you haven’t emailed your list in six months.

Looking at the big picture is the key to preventing your list from going cold.

Success in email marketing isn’t about the size of your list. It’s about the ENGAGEMENT of your list. What’s the use of having 1 million subscribers if they’ve all gone cold? Better to have 500 subscribers who are on fire with passion for your product.
Let’s put this into perspective. Do you plan to launch a product in 2015?
If the answer’s yes, you should start planning to warm your list right now. Reinvigorate their enthusiasm and get them ready — now — for your latest and greatest product offering.
It takes time and patience to rebuild a trusting relationship with your subscribers, and if you want a successful launch, you’ll need them on your side well before it’s time to sell.