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SPAM issue using phplist for newsletter

How to deal with it?

5:40 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Over 12 years I have developed a list of 30,000 members who receive my weekly newsletter, that I send out using phplist. So far I have never had a single problem because they are double opt-in and I have never sold the list or misused it in any way.

This morning, however, my host company sent me a spam report with 30 or so addresses that triggered the warning. Would you be kind enough to tell me how does that work? Are these my members who marked the newsletter as Spam instead of unsubscribing? Or is the ISP(s) contacting my hosting company? My hosting company says that they have a no-spam policy and they will suspend my account if I spam.

A quick search shows that using a professional company may cost as much as thousands of dollars each month. Are there other alternatives to send out weekly emails to 30,000 addresses? My budget is about $200 a month.
5:48 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Assuming you have records of exactly when those 30,000 members double opted in, you can provide that information to your ISP.

If your ISP provided you with the actual addresses, you can also try contacting them directly to see why they reported you as a spammer.

My first thought is that a random spammer is just spoofing your e-mail address. Those 30 recipients may have inadvertently provided their (and your newsletter's) e-mail addresses via a virus or Trojan.
6:19 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I had a similar problem years ago when I hosted and sent my own newsletter. You just never know if folks really think your message is spam, or if they are just using the spam button as an easy way to unsubscribe (frustrating).

I ended up cutting over to Feedburner to send and manage my newsletter. Unfortunately they would not allow me to import my list, so I sent out a series of alerts to my list asking them to re-sign up for my Feedburner newsletter list.

In the end I lost a lot of subscribers, but I now have a very scalable and free newsletter solution that I don't have to worry about delivery issues, etc.

If you must have a service you can import into, maybe try Constant Contact. I hear they are good.
2:48 am on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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That's a VERY low number based on the amount of members you have. Ask your ISP for time to investigate and then give an initial response back to them. I would go the route of providing immediately a record of those on the list of 30 that are still members (some may have unsub'd). Give them a rough number of your list membership so they know up front how low this 30 complaints is to your list.

My gut is like others have said here most are spam rejects and not true issues. Contact the true members directly to get an explanation. Put in a time requirement to these 30 members for a response and indicate you will un-subscribe them at the end of that time period.

For any of the 30 member if your inquiry bounces as a 5xx or 5.x.x error unsub them immediately. Forward that to the ISP too. I wouldn't be surprised after doing this that your left with 10 or less. If so see if you can get the ISP to agree that you can handle the remainder independently.

Though I'm a Microsoft Exchange email guy I have found applications like phplist relaying thru my servers had sometimes left out headers that triggered a spam filter. I'll look at phplist and see if that might be true. I had a one way paging service rejecting emails that lacked reply-to: header, too funny!

One last possibility is your messages seem spammy to the gateway rejecting it. There are tools to check a message's SPAM grade, you may wish to investigate them and tune your messages based on the tools recommendation(s). A few are listed here [emailexpert.org ]

PHPlist Help Forum post: Why are my messages being marked as spam [forums.phplist.com ] was my 1st choice of the 124 hits found with this search string site:phplist.com email headers

Beyond this I assume the DNS (A, Pri-MX & Sec-MX) and rDNS (Pointer) are all perfect. Implementing Domain Keys and SPF has been shown to clear up some spam false positives too.

Feel free to sticky the remaining spam rejects for my insight.

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