As email became the marketing tool of this century, I often thought my fellow ESP’s (Email Service Providers) would benefit from a customer Black List. Most ESP’s, including Dundee Internet, vett prospects before we put our reputation on the line, so to speak; a customer Black List would make that process a whole lot easier.
With an industry specific Black List, we could know all about our new potential customers:those that didn’t pay their bills, reversed credit card payments or worst yet are SPAMMERS. But the SPAMMER of yesterday, with proper education and mailing experience, could become the exemplary mailer of today, so a Black List might not have been a good idea after all – but vetting prospects, it seems, will never go away.
While we all take care of whom we let use our list hosting services, on occasion we actually find ourselves firing customers, even customers who passed the vetting process.
These customers, unfortunately, are usually good paying customers, always pay on time, never need too much support and have longevity with our company: but these customers for one reason or another have forgot the rules for the best practices for email. And this takes us by surprise, how can someone forget the simple rules of good email marketing especially when they’ve been doing it for so long?
With a little investigation we have found this 90 degree turn around happens when a customer:
- Rents a list – just to try it out.
- For the first time, purchased a list, because it was too good to pass up the opportunity that boasts guaranteed opt in members – with testimonials!
- Decided to trade lists with their friend, just this once, and not mention this “trade” to any of the list subscribers.
- Decides to dig out their old list (from 2 years ago) just to see if they stirrup renewed interest instead of trying a re engagement campaign.
- Hires a new marketing person who want results and believes the more emails sent the bigger the response, opted-in, opted-out or not.
All of the above causes a host of problems for any sending ESP. Just look at the customer who decides to buy or rent a list, depending on how the addresses were obtained, the list may be peppered with role accounts such as billing@, info@, president@ , support@), noreply@, addresses that normally have no business being on a mailing list.
Role accounts are not consider good addresses because, for one, they are clearly not permission based addresses. Role accounts typically have several people behind them, such as an entire billing department for billing@. It would be very unlikely that everyone in the billing department would confirm their list membership, but it’s very likely using this role account is vulnerable to Spam complaints.
ESP don’t like SPAM complaints , it’s bad for business and it’s bad for all our customers Most Email Service Providers have published Terms Of Service, Acceptable Use Policy and some, a SPAM policy to make it clear to prospects and customers what they can and cannot do. Contracts, if required, further clarifies what each party can expect from one another by adding clauses such as a section on Prohibited Content and Activity.
Aside from contracts and written rules our job as an Email Service Provider, is to make an email marketer successful, by:
- Keeping Spammers off their service.
- Making it easy to comply with the CAN SPAM Act regulations. (i.e. automatically include an unsubscribe link, require opted in addresses only and so forth)
- Keep the customer data secure.
- Allow customers full control of their marketing lists.
- Offering a Private IP address.
- Extend Customer support and training beyond the manual.
- House our severs in a robust infrastructure with redundant Internet connections.
With software that:
- Has advanced scripting functionality.
- Provides ability to compose rich dynamic content.
- Allows users to create triggered email messages.
- Has built in Web analytics.
- Offers extensive reports on mailings and memberships.
- Gives customers the ability to send highly relevant, targeted, and timely digital marketing messages – and – offers Enterprise Connectors for integrating with any data source and application.
Sounds good doesn’t it. Feature rich list hosting software at your command. But while it sounds good, there are rules to play the game. So, when the next ESP asks questions about your mailing practices, don’t take offense. They are protecting their customers, themselves and you. So keep in mind we do fire customers, not often, only when necessary to keep the mail flowing