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Scared to send newsletter - Help

Should I run and hide from my host?

     
2:43 am on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I have been worried about newsletters that I have been sending out almost a year because last time a person reported it to SpamCop and my hosting company sent me a firm letter saying if I sent more spam they would block all incoming e-mail to my account on my domain names!

Now, a few months later I am wanting to send my customers a new newsletter...I decided to e-mail my hosting company to make sure they wouldn't shut down my e-mail and here is the response I got:
"It is not allow to send out bulk emails.
http://myhosting.com/FAQs/hosting_ans.htm#42
You allow to use mailing list to share same interest to group of people.
However, if we receive spam complain that will be another issue,
Which mean someone is not welcome your email."

This scares me for a couple reasons.
A) There is not a single sentence that makes sence in English.
B) At the provided link, it does not say what I am doing is wrong since I do not use the hosting companies servers to send the e-mails.

After the quote I posted above, he added a quote from SpamCop that tells about how opt-in lists have to be unchecked, then send a random verification code to be acceptable. I did not do the verification codes, but it did say I could e-mail current subscribers to send them a verification code and update the list. Then again, that would be sending bulk e-mail in itself.

What should I do? I am scared that if I do anything I will get all e-mail to the domain names shut down just because I don't understand his response.

4:28 am on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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How were the addresses gathered?
4:30 am on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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How many addresses? Revalidate your list with another round of OptIn if you are that worried about it.
4:57 am on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

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That letter would concern me as well.

The bottom line is this... no matter how diligent you are in adhering to "best practices" with opt-in email, if your list is large enough, you will get the occasional spam report.

The best insurance is to make sure that you have a file of all subscribe requests available, and back this file up religiously.

If email marketing is going to be a significant part of your business strategy (and it should) I'd also suggest making sure that you work with a host that is well versed in legitimate opt-in practices. There are far too many that will just pull the plug without a fair hearing.

9:28 am on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I would not suggest that you send out another email to those folks. Why?

At a minimum, you HAVE TO send an ezine out monthly... although I recommend twice a month. People just forget that they've subscribed and sometimes report you. And some hosting companies, ISP's DSL's don't care of they've opted in... or even what proof they have. They'll just send you a horrid note and then shut you down (even if it's your first complaint in 7 years!) You're guilty until proven differently.

Even if you use a free email account to send the ezine out, if it mentions ANY other site, and someone considers it spam, they can also close down the other person's website, too.

Question, the addresses you have, can you send them a snailmail newsletter? Or a postcard or letter offering them a subscription to your ezine with a free report (or something)? Or just start all over again with an opt in program and make sure you send something interstesting out every two weeks.

2:36 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Once you have a large and varied enough audience there will be people whom consider it spam even if they ticked the little box to confirm that they opted in (this does of course assume you confirmed their email address at the time to ensure it was actually theirs and not a fake).

The trick is getting them to limit how severe their response is by making it *very* clear why they are recieving the newsletter then you can change i.e.

you recieved this newsletter because when you registered on <link>www.example.com</link> you told us to send you this monthly newsletter, if you no longer wish to recieve this newsletter then please <blah>...

That limits the amount of people who would consider it out-and-out spam (either because it jogs their memory or they think that they might have subscribed) which in my experience would push someone whom might report it as spam into someone whom either follows the removal instructions or someone who mails you asking to be removed.

However at the end of the day you still have no guarantees that you wont get the odd spam report. With your current host this is a bad thing.

My advice would be look at other hosting companies and make a point of getting their policy on newsletter-type mail-outs in writing - most frown on bulk-mailing totally since they provide email as a courtesy service on top of site hosting and so people using their email systems heavily tends to result in terrible service for all the other customers.

if it mentions ANY other site, and someone considers it spam, they can also close down the other person's website, too

I feel coachmaria has either had a really bad experience or has over-simplified. A few complaints should rarely ever result in any action from a normal hosting company (otherwise what stops me getting my competitors site shutdown?) but if your actions start generating lots of complaints or the complaints refer to something which genuinely violates their TOS then I would expect them to take action.

- Tony

3:09 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I used to worry about this until I started sending the 'newsletter' from a different IP. Now I compose the newsletters then import the email addresses and send them with a bulk emailer shareware program from my PC on an el cheapo dial up account. In that way the host is not compromised if someone (a competitor who has signed up) decides to report it as spam to Spamcop or the ISP.

It is possible that Spamcop will find 'host referenced in spam' and notify your host ISP, if you put the URL in the email. But ISPs are a hell of a lot easier to deal with if they know the emails are not coming out of their servers.

3:10 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I am in the same situation. I have an opt in mailing list that I use once in a blue moon to remind people I exist. I send out a mailing about 6 months ago and my osp got a spamm report. The good thing was the user who complained also sent a copy of my email and it was obvious it was not spamm. No action was taken by my host but to this day I dont know who complained and no one has opted out so if I send more mail I will be sending to the same user. No win situation
4:07 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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We've talked many times about this subject and it seems that the day of any kind of bulk or mass mail is coming to an end. The unscrupulous spammers have ruined the newsletter business. From what I read here at ww, most people only accept and open email from explicit requests, everything else gets trashed locally or blocked by hosting services.
4:14 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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From what I read here at ww

Don't make the mistake of assuming the audience here bears any relation to the general population in terms of how they use the internet, including e-mail.

4:17 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Good point Mardi Gras.
5:13 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>the audience here bears any relation to the general population in terms of how they use the internet

OTOH, ISPs are more likely to react similarly to the audience here at WebmasterWorld.

I distribute regional tourism requests that are gathered from a form which can only be described as having "totally-paranoid-massive-disclosure-that-spells-out-everything-four-times," yet I still get turned in to spamcop. I keep a set of canned replies to their warning which I send them every time someone pulls the tripwire, which shows their policeman-du-jour the form and all of the disclosure that is involved, as well as our own very prominently displayed complaint filing system. So far, they've backed off after reviewing that.

I agree that the day of the free email newsletter distributed by small, independent webmasters (as opposed to those that are big enough to have a direct understanding with their ISP) is coming to an end.

9:25 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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georgeek

The problem with using a dial-up to send direct is that you will find you have more and more failures as ISPs start to deny mail from anything that isn't a mail-server (ie senders IP isn't listed as an MX record for the sending address), which IMO is a sensible measure.

AOL implement front-line filters similar to this...

[postmaster.info.aol.com...]

550 - AOL no longer accepts connections from dynamically assigned IP addresses to our relay servers. Please contact your ISP to have your mail redirected through your ISP's SMTP servers.

This indicates that you are trying to connect directly to AOL's relay servers to send mail from an IP address which is listed in AOL's dial-up-list.

AOL will not accept port 25 connections from dynamically assigned IP addresses; we require that all email connections come from static IP addresses (a "fixed" line like an SMTP server). If you get this message, you should talk to your ISP to have your email re-routed through your ISP's SMTP servers.

If your IP address has been mistakenly added to the dial-up-list, you will need to have your ISP or Upstream provider contact AOL to remove the IP addresses out of the dial-up-list.

Just some food for thought...

- Tony

9:57 pm on Dec 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Dreamquick

I agree with you it is a sensible measure.

The software I use has an embedded SMTP relay so it is not a problem at the moment. I always check the relay first by sending one email to myself at my Spamcop email address which has all the filters enabled - so far never had a problem.

Thanks for the heads up on AOL.

 

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