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How Do I Minimize E-mail Newsletter Bounces?
subgenius




msg:3506384
 4:55 am on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I recently sent my most important client a report regarding an e-mail newsletter. They thought the number of bounced e-mails was a little high, and wanted to know how we can minimize the bounces. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to minimize the number of bounces when sending an e-mail newsletter?

Here are some additional details regarding this newsletter and past newsletters that may help:

1. For this particular e-mail, we included two links to sites other than our client's website. The first was Google Maps (link to directions to the client's store), and the second was a link to a survey/form that our company created for this specific e-mail. Would it have helped to have all of the links within the e-mail pointing to the same domain name (but not necessarily the exact same page)?

2. We send out 1-3 e-mails per month for this client, and I've never gone back and manually removed e-mails that have bounced in the past. One thought I had was to have a "three strikes and your out" policy where I would manually remove e-mails after they've bounced in three different newsletters. The obvious downside to doing this is the amount of time required, but the client might be willing to pay for it.

3. I guess we could add a line in the newsletter that asks users to add us to their address books, but I wouldn't count on many users following through.

If anyone has any advice on other techniques to reduce the number of bounces, I'd love to hear them.

 

onlineleben




msg:3506539
 10:17 am on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

first, you didn't tell us if your subscribers are double optin or not.
The bounce rate with double optins is usually lower compared to those were you have the email address not confirmed.

Would it have helped to have all of the links within the e-mail pointing to the same domain name

This could reduce the spam-score your mail gets assigned from certain spam-checkers. Also it helps you in tracking reader behaviour.

add a line in the newsletter that asks users to add us to their address books

How should this work when they don't see the newsletter because it bounced. Put something like this on the thank you page when people subscribe. Also remind them on that page to look into their junk folder in case the confirmation mail lands there.

I've never gone back and manually removed e-mails that have bounced in the past

first, it is important to check if the bounce is permanent or temporary. If it is a permanent error, like unknow user etc, then you should remove the email address because otherwise you could earn negative reputation with some ISPs for mailing to bogus email addresses.
Also honour unsubscribe requests, that you receive by return emails.
Both are manual tasks, but they help in getting your list clean.

downside to doing this is the amount of time required, but the client might be willing to pay for it

You get, what you pay for. In this case a leaner and cleaner list.
In additon to the reputational advantages towards ISPs mentioned above, you also get a better basis for tracking your mailing campaigns as you only send to valid adresses.

Good luck with reducing your bounce rate.

piatkow




msg:3506657
 12:47 pm on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I work on a two strikes basis, even if it is just a full mailbox.

subgenius




msg:3506716
 2:01 pm on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)


Onlineleben and piatkow, thanks for your advice. I'll take all those points into consideration and clean up the list accordingly.

To answer the questions about my list, it's a compilation of e-mails submitted via a single optin web form, as well as e-mails gathered by sales people either in person or over the phone (probably single optin as well unless the sales person asked them to repeat their e-mail :)

grey259




msg:3506943
 5:45 pm on Nov 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

What sort of mailing list software do you use? It should have features like bounce management, double opt-in, and automatic unsubscribe built in to it.

If you're doing this by hand, check out phplist (it's open source).

maximillianos




msg:3507533
 2:34 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I gave up on trying to manage my own newsletter. Outsourced it (for free!) to Feedburner... ;-)

onlineleben




msg:3507555
 3:10 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

What sort of mailing list software do you use?

I think it is not so much a question of which software or ESP is used, but a question of list hygene.

my list, it's a compilation of e-mails submitted via a single optin web form, as well as e-mails gathered by sales people either in person or over the phone

For those addresses that you obtained via salespersons or phone, you should make a note of when and how you obtained the data. Otherwise it can bounce back in a legal way someday.

For the future, I recommend to
a) switch the online registration to a double-optin process. By telling your subscribers that you do double-optin to prevent misuse of their email address (others typing in their address) you also could gain credibility.

b) when obtaining email addresses offline, ask the contact for explicit confirmation that he wants to receive your newsletter (which probably contains commercial content) - also take a note about how you obatained data as described above.

c) provide a simple unsubscribe feature in every issue of your newsletter.
At first glance, no one likes unsubscribes, but it is much better to have people unsubscribe by themselfs than having them mark your newsletter as spam.

DWarp9




msg:3507562
 3:50 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

The obvious downside to doing this is the amount of time required, but the client might be willing to pay for it.

As far as "unknown user" bounces, there is plenty of software out there that will do the trick for you, both on IMAP and POP3 mail servers. You should never have to do something like that by hand.

Anolonda




msg:3507598
 5:13 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Talk about serendipity!

I, literally, just got done cleaning up a clients opt-in newsletter list and logged in to WW to see this thread.

I agree that a double opt in is a good way to go. In cleaning up my client's list (which is single opt in) I was amazed to see simple typos and mistakes people make when entering their email address. Lot's of misplaced "dots", lots of "eatrhlinks.com" or alo.coms, as well as a lot of spoofed addresses.

It seems a lot of people think faster than they type!

[edited by: Anolonda at 5:14 pm (utc) on Nov. 17, 2007]

Angonasec




msg:3511101
 2:00 am on Nov 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ensure you remove all aol users from your list.
We dumped hundreds, and warn people on sign-up NOT to use aol.
Those who do we wipe out immediately.

Why?

1) AOL users are congenitally err... "challenged".

2) AOL's email interface begs for its fat-fingered users to hit the SPAM button in error.

3) AOL's browser is terminally rogered.

4) AOL's auto blacklisting is seriously clumsy, banning whole blocks of IPs rather than blocking the spammer.

5) Please contribute you own...

onlineleben




msg:3511750
 7:41 am on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ensure you remove all aol users from your list.
We dumped hundreds, and warn people on sign-up NOT to use aol.
Those who do we wipe out immediately.
Why?

Sure, AOL users sometimes face difficulties, especially with links in emails they receive. I kept them in my list and they haven't caused any trouble sofar.
Why not do the following experiment: put all AOL users into a seperate mailing list so you can send to two lists and check the results you get from your two mailings. If the AOL list doesn't provide a positive ROI, dump them ...

1) AOL users are congenitally err... "challenged".

... but sometimes provide the best ROI

warn people on sign-up NOT to use aol

Not only warn them, but provide an alternative. And state the reasons why AOL in your experience causes problems for your newsletter subscribers.

4) AOL's auto blacklisting is seriously clumsy, banning whole blocks of IPs rather than blocking the spammer.

Pls check postmaster.aol dot com for guidelines regarding their email policies and how to best reach their memebers. Some helpful information on these pages.

Angonasec




msg:3512809
 2:31 am on Nov 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Pls check postmaster.aol dot com for guidelines regarding their email policies and how to best reach their memebers. Some helpful information on these pages.

Both we, and our very responsible Hosting Company, checked, and closely adhered to those "guidelines", and still fell-foul of AOL's fat fingered techs. Their "guidelines" are a mere space-filler for appearances. Don't waste your time.

AOL, and their users, are simply not worth the effort for the trouble they cause.

They are banned from our list, and will remain so ad inf.

Your suggestion that they are "easy-spenders" is short-sighted; America is "buying on tick", and in any case, we are not selling. There are far better reasons to provide a website.

It's also very pleasant not to receive all caps emails anymore.

Remember those?

farmboy




msg:3512975
 2:37 pm on Nov 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm curious as to the bounce rate others are experiencing, regardless of the reason for the bounce.

FarmBoy

farmboy




msg:3512985
 2:42 pm on Nov 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

AOL, and their users, are simply not worth the effort for the trouble they cause.

I'm close to reaching the same conclusion. Although I haven't yet decided just to ban AOL email addresses, I'm very close and have been for some time now.

I follow the 95-5 rule which is 5% of your customers will create 95% of your headaches. I'm willing to do without 5% of my customers to avoid 95% of my headaches.

And when it comes to email issues, the huge majority of the headaches I experience originate with AOL email addresses. I don't know why that is, I just know that it is.

FarmBoy

farmboy




msg:3512989
 2:44 pm on Nov 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Anyone here using ARP3 for email list management? Do you consider a "fail" to be the same as a "bounce"? What is your threshold for determining an email address is a fail?

FarmBoy

Angonasec




msg:3513301
 3:01 am on Nov 26, 2007 (gmt 0)


AOL, and their users, are simply not worth the effort for the trouble they cause.

I'm close to reaching the same conclusion. Although I haven't yet decided just to ban AOL email addresses, I'm very close and have been for some time now.

We banned them around two years ago, because the Hosting Company we use was getting blocked by AOL. They blocked the whole IP range used by a very responsible Company!

Our list has always been clean, 100% double confirmed opt-in subscribers ONLY. It uses Domain keys, and sends just one plain text email a month. (A NFP, not commercial).

Despite this, a couple of AOL subscribers reported it as spam.

Our Host told us it was common for them to get "spam reports" from AOL initiated by genuine subscribers to lists.

You know the reasons...

So to prevent any possibility of us causing any headaches for our host, we chose voluntarily to wipe all AOL users from our mailing lists.

Since then, there's not been a single "spam report" due to our list.

Our Host knows we've always run a clean list, and we appreciate their excellent service.

With AOL's clumsy blacklisting, it would be wise to keep AOL off your lists completely.

They won't learn, or improve, but your overall email 'penetration' will not be damaged by AOL if you ditch them.

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