Well, here we are, getting ready to welcome another new year. I thought that for my final post of 2019, I’d go over some best practices to help start your 2020 marketing efforts off on the right foot. A lot goes into successfully delivering an email to the inbox, and these are just a few best practices to keep in mind.
I’ll be touching on some new topics, as well as some that I’ve previously written about such as bounces, spam complaints, and permissions.
DO: Get explicit/express permission
While implied/implicit permission is allowed within Constant Contact, getting some form of direct permission is considered a best practice (it’s also becoming more of a requirement and even the law within certain countries.)
DON’T: Purchase a list
Not only is it a violation of Constant Contact’s permission policy , but it’s frowned upon in the industry overall and could have a serious impact on your sending reputation.
DO: Use Double/Confirmed Opt-In
If getting explicit permission is a best practice, then a double opt-in is the king of best practices. This will ensure those signing up truly want your email, and also help protect your online sign-up forms from potential bot attacks.
DON’T: Scrape email addresses from websites
Contact emails are placed on websites for specific inquiries regarding their business, not to be added to marketing lists.
DO: Use your own domain
Not only does this look more professional than using a free email address (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.), but it gives you greater control over your email setting and security.
DON’T: Ignore your bounces
Bounce management is one of the most important parts of keeping your list up to date. Continually mailing to addresses that are bouncing back reflects badly on you as a sender and can impact your ability to successfully deliver mail to the inbox.
DO: Make your email campaigns relevant to your contacts
When sending out emails, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is another person at the end of the line. Chances are if the email seems too generic or doesn’t connect with them on a personal level, they’re not going to engage with it.
DON’T: Neglect your subject line
A good subject line will not only affect your open rate, but your delivery as well! Using a clear, concise call to action or teasing something special in your email can entice your subscribers into opening. Just be sure to avoid using too many symbols, buzzwords, or all caps like: “All items 50% off!!!!” or “OPEN FOR A FREE GIFT”. You can also try A/B Testing to test multiple subject lines and find which is most effective.
DO: Segment your lists
This goes hand in hand with making your campaigns relevant, but segmenting is a great way to make sure you are personalizing your campaigns to your contacts. You could segment by items/services purchased, birthdate, interests, location, etc.
DON’T: Rely (only) on images
A few images can help your email campaigns pop, but using only images (or only one image ) is never recommended. Often, these will get filtered right to the spam folder. Even if they are delivered to the inbox, if your subscriber blocks images, they won’t see your content. It’s best to offset images with plenty of text.
DO: Keep track of engagement
It’s important to keep track of your opens and clicks since those are the contacts you know for sure are actively interested in your emails. One good practice is to save an ongoing list of these addresses, this will ensure that you always have a list of engaged contacts
DON’T: Send too often
This is a tough one since “too often” will all depend on what expectations are set when the contacts sign up. Whether you send monthly, weekly, or daily, make sure your contacts are aware from the start, but keep in mind that typically anything more than once a day will likely cause your engagement to go down. Once you set a frequency, do your best to stick to it.
DO: Remember we’re here to help!
Have a question? Need some recommendations? Constant Contact is here. You can check out our Help Center for Knowledge Base articles, tutorials, our online Community, as well as the different ways to contact our support department.
All of these points in one way or another can have an impact on your overall deliverability. I hope this is helpful in your 2020 marketing endeavors (and beyond)!
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Sending From Free Email Addresses
A lot of people believe that delivering an email is as simple as clicking “send” and waiting a couple seconds for it to go to the inbox (or maybe the junk folder if it looks like spam). In reality, there are a lot of checks and balances that an email campaign needs to go through before it can be successfully delivered. Every part of your message, be it the footer, body, images, subject line, and so on can affect delivery. One aspect that is often overlooked is the “from” email address. In this post, I’ll go over how using a free email address as the “from” address can affect your delivery.
What Are “Free Email Addresses”?
Free email addresses are usually obtained from your Internet provider (Such as Comcast or Verizon) or created on a web site that offers email as a service (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Apple, etc.).
Some free email providers try to restrict how their customers use their emails addresses. For example, they may implement what’s called “email authentication” to prevent you from sending through 3 rd party services like Constant Contact. To further explain why sending from one of these addresses is not recommended; first I need to go over Authentication and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance).
What is Authentication?
Email Authentication is a series of methods that let ISPs know the origins of a message. All messages sent through Constant Contact are given a form of basic authentication that allows you to be considered a safe sender using our online reputation. If you want to set yourself apart (and possibly get a boost in delivery) you can also choose to enable Constant Contact authentication or self-authentication . A more in-depth explanation, along with a description of the different forms of Authentication can be found here .
What is DMARC?
DMARC is a policy used by a sending domain. It tells the receiving ISP which forms of authentication an email “from” them needs to pass. It also dictates what to do with the messages that fail, which usually falls into three main categories:
Accept – The message is delivered regardless of failing DMARC
Quarantine – The message is delivered to the spam/junk folder
Reject – The message is bounced and not delivered.
More and more ISPs and mailbox providers are setting their policies to either quarantine or reject mail that fails DMARC. This is an effort to combat malicious mail such as scams and spoofing, but it affects legitimate email marketers as well.
How Does DMARC Affect Free Addresses?
Let's say you are using a Yahoo email address as your “from” address. A DMARC check will see that @yahoo.com requires all mail "from" them to pass an authentication check for their domain. While all Constant Contact mail is authenticated, it is done under a CTCT domain, NOT Yahoo's domain. This means any email from a Yahoo domain will fail the DMARC check and either bounce or go directly to the spam/junk folder.
**Please note, this isn’t specific to Yahoo, many domains implement DMARC**
Yikes! Does Constant Contact Do Anything to Help With This?
We do! For domains we know to be affected by DMARC, we automatically rewrite the “from” address to match ours. For example, CTCT@yahoo.com would be rewritten as CTCTfirstname.lastname@example.org . Since we own the domain “ccsend.com”, the mail passes DMARC and can be delivered.
Great! So What’s The Problem?
Although rewriting the domain helps, this is really more of a work-around than a solution. As technology evolves and more ISPs implement DMARC, we can’t guarantee that this will solve all potential DMARC delivery issues down the line. We also have no way of knowing EVERY domain that does and will use DMARC.
Is there a better solution?
You may have guessed by now, but the best solution is to obtain your own domain. Not only does this look more professional, but you’ll also have far more control over your own email security and sending reputation. Constant Contact provides domains and getting set up is quick and easy. T hen all you need to do is verify an address at that domain within your account.
Once this is done, you can even enable self-authentication within your account. With self-authentication, ISPs you send mail to will no longer use Constant Contact’s information for DMARC checks, they will use yours, ensuring you always pass!
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Well everyone, that just about wraps up our Q&A session! Thanks again to Nick and the Community team for giving me this opportunity, and a big thanks to all who sent in their questions.
If you didn't get the chance to ask a question, most answers can be found in our Knowledge Base. For anything else, our Account Review team is a great resource for all things Compliance/Delivery.
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Hello @Rev.FernandoA, thanks for the question!
Yes, I think that is a great idea! Focusing on those who are truly interested in your emails is definitely a best practice. After all, if they aren't opening your emails, what is the point?
If you want to simply delete those who aren't engaged, that's totally fine, but something you could do to maximize the number of subscribers you have is send those who aren't opening/clicking a Confirm Opt-In email.
Here is how I recommend doing that. First, segmenting the list of your engaged contacts from the contacts who are not opening/clicking so there is no overlap. Then send your normal content to the two lists separately once or twice to compare performance.
Then, once you're ready. Send a campaign only to those who aren't opening letting them know that you're next email will be asking them to confirm their subscription (this can either be it's own email, or a blurb at the top of your regular emails). Give that a week or so, then send the confirm opt-in to the list of non-opens according to the instructions in the link above.
Sending confirm opt-in email with take the contacts in that list and put them in a special status called Awaiting Confirmation. Contacts in this state can not be sent to or re-uploaded (and they do not count towards your billing) so make sure you only send it to those who aren't engaged. The confirmed opt-in email itself contains a special link that allows the contacts to add themselves back to the list.
By doing this, you remove all the addresses who are not opening, but still give them the chance to opt themselves back in if they choose to.
I hope this extra information is helpful! Again, this extra work is totally your choice, I just wanted to make sure you knew your options,
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Thanks for asking Tamara!
Just to go into a bit more detail as to how "Suspended" Addresses work, here is the process:
--If an email address bounces as Non-Existent for the first time within any Constant Contact account, it is put on a temporary 15 day hold. During this time, the address will show as Suspended if it is sent to.
--After that 15 day period, we remove the hold. If it does not bounce again, then that's it. Mail will continue to be delivered normally.
--If it does bounce again, it will become permanently Suspended
We do this because temporary issues do sometimes happen, so we give it that 15 days for whatever the issue that caused the incorrect bounce to be resolved. But if it keeps bounces as Non-Existent, we can be relatively sure it's no longer valid.
**Please note that this only applies to Non-Existent bounces. The rest of the bounce types do not become Suspended and will continue to be sent to unless removed. For details on all bounce types and suggested actions, I recommend this article.
I hope this clarifies things a bit. There are times where valid email addresses can bounce for a variety of reasons. For some more personalized help, I'd recommend reaching out to our Delivery team at 866-433-8499. They have some troubleshooting techniques that may help!
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Hello @MikeM8339. Thanks for the question!
Unfortunately, Constant Contact has a strict "permission based" policy. We do not allow the use of contacts collected from any 3rd party source (including publicly available data).
The reason for this is when someone receives an email that they don't remember signing up for, there is a high probability of them marking it as spam (or filing some other form of complaint). These in turn have an impact on Constant Contact's sending reputation, which affects anyone using our service.
For more specific details on our permission policy, you can click here.
*I'd also recommend that you refrain sending to a non-permission based list outside of our service too, as your own sending/domain reputation could be at risk*
Hope this helps!
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Good morning @TomG384 . Thank you for asking!
Just to be clear, do you mean contacts that click the unsubscribe link in campaigns you send from Constant Contact? If so, you don't need to do anything! We automatically opt-out those contacts for you. You can view them in the in the Contacts page under "Unsubscribe"
If you have a list of email addresses who have previously opted out OUTSIDE of Constant Contact in a spreadsheet or document that you wish to remove from your list then do the following:
1. Check the "Enable advanced email permissions" box in My Settings (Found by clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner).
2. Go to Contacts and under click on the Add Contacts button. There should be an option that says "Add unsubscribe from file". If it isn't there and you've checked the advanced permissions box, it may take a minute or two to refresh.
3. From there you can import a list of unsubscribes just like you would a normal contact list. The contacts in the file will be unsubscribed from all of your lists
Hope this helps!
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Hi @MauraW1! Thank you for the question!
Suspended addresses are contacts that have bounced multiple times as Non-Existent (either within your own, or any other Constant Contact account). Since repeatedly sending to non-existent bounces is frowned upon and can affect delivery, we suppress those addresses. When you try to send to an address that has been suppressed for bouncing as non-existent, it shows as Suspended in your account.
They are not "technically" bounces since we don't actually send to them, but we still display them on the bounce page since they are so closely connected with non-existent bounces.
Hope that clears it up! We also have a Knowledge Base article on this topic too!
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Good morning everyone
I'm back for the day and ready to answer any Compliance or Delivery questions you may have.
Once again, if you have a specific question as it pertains to your account, I'd encourage you to contact our Account Review/Delivery specialists at 866-433-8499. Due to privacy concerns, I'd rather not discuss them in a public forum like this!
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Hey @TishF43! Thanks for the question! For specific questions like this that may require some digging or troubleshooting, I'd suggest calling the Delivery team at 866-433-8499. One possible reason I can offer though, is sometimes larger public domains will deactivate inactive addresses in bulk, so if you see a large number of addresses that were previously not bouncing become Suspended or bounce as Non-Existent all at once, that is a possibility.
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I'm going to answer the second part of that first. If we do need to require that some maintenance be done to a contact list, then the Account Review team will work with the customer during the call to come up with an action plan. These tend to vary from customer to customer depending on what we learn during the review and what caused the review in the first place. Once any necessary action is taken, we then see how further mailing perform and go from there.
Of course, avoiding a review altogether is preferable, so here are a few quick tips:
1. Never (ever) use any kind of purchased, appended, shared, or publicly available contact list. This is one that I can't stress enough (and Constant Contact doesn't allow them).
2. Use a double opt-in to make sure your contacts want to receive emails
3. Once you have built a permission-based list, keep it updated. Manage bounces. Consider taking out those who are not engaged (not opening or clicking on links). Email marketing is more about quality than quantity.
This article here is a great resource for recommended and prohibited collection methods!
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An Account Review (and List Reviews) are conversations that revolve around contact list hygiene. When a customer is asked to call the Account Review team, they can usually expect the discussion to revolve around their collection methods, how old their lists are, past sending history, and maybe some other topics like email content.
Based on what we are told, we're also able to offer suggestions and educate on some industry best practices that may improve a customer's reporting. It’s also a great opportunity for the customer to pick our brains and ask any questions they may have.
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How long do with have? Hahaha
If I were to try to keep this somewhat brief, there are two that immediately come to mind:
1. Managing, Removing, and Preventing Bounced Emails. Bounces are a way of life with email marketing, they're going to happen. What's important is managing them so you're able to keep your list fresh and up to date. This article gives a rundown of all the different bounce types and how to find/manage them.
2. Using A Role Address for Billing or Sending to Role Addresses Through Constant Contact. There are certain types of email addresses that could be problematic to send to, among them are distribution or role addresses. These are addresses that are delivered to either a group of people or a particular position or "role" in an organization (think addresses that start with admin@, sales@, that kind of thing). Importing these addresses is one of the most common reasons for an Account Review, and this article gives a lot of examples of types of role addresses, why we don't like to send to them, and how to remove them
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Lately, we’ve been focusing a lot on updating, improving, and creating new articles in Constant Contact’s Knowledge Base. Compliance covers a pretty wide range of topics like spam, scams, delivery, bounces, etc so there is a lot to cover and we are doing our best to get as much information as possible out there for our customers.
Also, speaking of delivery, I don’t want to go into too much detail now, but coming very soon will be a new in-product feature that will make email Authentication quicker and easier for our customers. Self-publishing for authentication is becoming more and more crucial for email delivery, so we’re excited about this.
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Wow, that's kind of hard to answer! In some ways it hasn't changed much, in that our goal has really been the same since I began. In other ways though, it's totally different. We've needed to update and evolve with changes in technology and email security.
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Hi there! Thank you Nick for giving me this opportunity. I'm Robb Pizzuto and I've been with Constant Contact for 10 years and have worked with Compliance in some capacity that whole time
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We as email marketers tend to define spam as “unsolicited” or “unrequested” mail. While this is technically correct, it goes a bit beyond that. The truth is, spam is in the eye of the beholder. These days, people tend to consider any mail they don’t want as spam, whether they asked for it or not. As senders, we need to understand this and make sure we are mailing to interested and engaged contacts. Those who truly send unsolicited mail have forced ESPs and ISPs to implement ways to file complaints against such practices. These complaints, in turn, impact a sender’s online reputation. Get too many complaints, and your emails don’t get delivered; it’s as simple as that.
Constant Contact looks to adhere to a 0.1% spam complaint ratio (or 1 complaint per 1,000 contacts). In the past, I have discussed these spam complaints , how to view them within your reports, how they affect you (and us), and some best practices on how to avoid them. Today I’d like to focus more on the types of complaints that aren’t shown on your reporting screen.
Constant Contact is set up to receive spam complaint feedback from most of the major ISPs, and those complaints appear in the reporting for each campaign. Gmail does things a little differently though. Instead of automatically reporting individual spam to us the standard way, Gmail’s postmaster will notify us directly if a campaign's aggregate complaints exceed their threshold for complaints. If this happens, you may need to have a conversation with our Account Review team so that we can help improve your reputation with Gmail and lower complaints going forward.
Direct Abuse Complaints
There are times where Constant Contact will receive complaints directly from a customer’s contact. Usually, this occurs when a recipient’s email client doesn’t have a “Report as Spam” option, or if they feel strongly enough where a standard spam complaint may not be sufficient. In these cases, the Compliance team will discreetly unsubscribe the email address in question and review the account to see if additional action is warranted.
Some people will go beyond reporting an email as spam or emailing us and report the sender directly to a blocklist (or blacklist). Blocklists are services that track IP addresses or email domains that are suspected of sending unsolicited mail. Most major ISPs and ESPs incorporate some kind of blocklist in their filters, so these complaints have the most impact and are considered the most serious.
If Constant Contact receives a blocklisting complaint, then the account in question will trigger an Account Review so that we can work with the customer and bring their list back in good standing to avoid any potential harm to their or Constant Contact’s online reputation.
In a perfect world, anyone who doesn’t wish to receive emails from someone would unsubscribe, and that’d be that. Of course, we know that is not the case. Ultimately, because Constant Contact operates in a shared server environment, complaints against a handful of customers could potentially affect our delivery for all of our customers. The Compliance and Account Review teams work with customers who may not be in the best standing to make sure everyone’s emails get to the inbox. If you have a concern about reporting or complaints, we encourage you to be proactive in list maintenance. If you have any questions, we’re here to help!
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Back in October, I posted about some types of problematic email addresses and why they are cause for concern. Today, I will be covering a few more types of addresses that I didn’t get to discuss previous: dead domain addresses and spamtraps.
About Dead Domains:
Email has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s generally accepted that the first email was sent back in 1971, although, it didn’t really become widely used by the general public until the early to mid 90s. Since that time, many email domains have become obsolete. Remember those CDs you used to get in the mail or those prehistoric websites you visited back in the days of dial-up? There’s a good chance several of those domains are no longer in use.
Once a domain shuts down, any email address with that domain becomes invalid and will start bouncing. Within Constant Contact, bounces are easy to manage; however generating too many bounces can affect sending reputation. Moreover, once an address bounces long enough it can become a spamtrap.
Spamtraps (sometimes known as honeypot addresses) are email addresses often utilized by blocklists and security companies/individuals that are used for the sole purpose of catching unsolicited mail. There are several types of spamtraps:
Pristine Spamtraps- These are addresses that are created solely to catch spam. These are never used to sign up for a list or as a personal address. Often they are placed strategically on the Internet in places where people try to scrape or otherwise obtain email addresses. There is no scenario where this type of email address would be on a permission-based list.
Recycled Email Addresses- When an email address or domain has been out of use for a long time, it can be repurposed into a spamtrap. Presence of these on your contact list doesn’t necessarily mean that the list is non-permission based; it could be that it’s an older list in need of an update.
Typos/Misspelt domains- These are a bit trickier because there are times where a typo is an honest mistake, but could also result in accidentally mailing to a spamtrap. Some blocklists have created spamtraps from misspellings of major domains. These may look like “@gnail.com” instead of “@gmail.com”, or “@homail.com” instead of “@hotmail.com”.
Risks of Mailing to These Addresses:
The main reason that these addresses are cause for concern is the consequence that can occur when they are mailed to. Constant Contact runs the risk of having one or more of our sending IPs blocked, affecting delivery for all of our customers. Even more worrisome, it’s possible for the sender’s own domain to experience reputation issues, which could affect it’s ability to send mail even outside Constant Contact.
Due to this, importing any of these types of addresses will result in an Account Review.
How Can I Avoid These Addresses?
Spamtraps and dead domains can be scary because they usually look just like regular email addresses. Additionally, they need to remain undisclosed in order to be useful, so there is no good way to check an existing list for them. As long as you follow Constant Contact’s Terms and Conditions and Anti-Spam Policy, you should be just fine, but here are some best practices to follow:
Avoid purchased lists. These are a violation of our terms and conditions anyways, and are notorious for containing problematic addresses.
Avoid older contact lists. If you have a contact list that has been laying around for years that has not been mailed to then chances are the risks of mailing to it outweigh the reward, regardless of how it was collected.
Keep lists up to date. Be sure to properly manage your bounces to ensure that you are removing invalid email addresses.
Focus on engaged contacts. If contacts aren’t opening your email, they aren’t doing you any good. Be wary of hanging on to disengaged contacts for too long.
Consider using confirmed opt-in. This is a setting that can be turned on within your account and is a great tool for verifying that an email address is valid and that the subscriber truly wants to receive your mail.
For more recommendations, Constant Contact has a knowledge base on Collecting quality email addresses.
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In previous posts, I have discussed List Reviews and Account Reviews, as well as why elevated spam reports will result in Account Reviews. Today, I’m going to go over a few of the problematic email address types that can also result in a Constant Contact account disabling for a review.
In the interest of brevity, I’ll only be discussing a few of the different types of addresses in this post, you can expect a follow-up post in a few weeks that will discuss some others. Today’s topic will be “role”, “transactional”, and “group” addresses
About Role Addresses:
True to their name, role addresses don’t necessarily belong to any one person as a personal email address would, but rather a specific role in the organization. Examples include admin@, jobs@, legal@, support@, among many others.
“So what’s wrong with those?” you may ask. The trouble comes when someone new takes on the role, or in the case of addresses like office@ or customerservice@, the address is owned by multiple people. If someone were to leave a company and take ownership of an address only to see marketing emails coming in, that could result in complaints against the sender. Additionally, if someone signs up with a role address that goes to their whole team, everyone who gets the email may not recognize the sender, resulting in multiple complaints.
Evan works for an e-commerce company and monitors the support@ email address. After he leaves the organization, Mary takes over his duties. Evan had used the support@ to sign up for some emails from an office supplies company they use. Mary, not knowing the company where they get their supplies from, files a complaint with the email sender for what she considers spam.
Jack manages a sales team of 20 people and attends some webinars that offer sales advice. Thinking his team could benefit from them, Jack uses the sales@ email address to sign up for their newsletter. The team, however, doesn’t recognize why they are getting these emails and marks them as spam in their inbox.
Similarly, if someone on that sales@ email address unsubscribes, it would unsubscribe the whole distribution list.
About Transactional Addresses:
Also known as anonymous email addresses, if you’ve ever used a site like Craigslist, you’re probably familiar with these. They are usually a long string of random letters and numbers followed by the domain for the specific website that they were generated from. These addresses are useful for protecting one’s identity during a sale or transaction online, however, they can sometimes end up in someone’s address book or contact list as a result.
By their nature, these are meant to be more temporary email addresses and not used for ongoing marketing emails. If you find these within your list, it’s highly unlikely that anyone actually provided it to you with the intent of signing up for emails.
About Group Addresses:
These are pretty similar to role addresses, however instead of being specific to an organization, they are specific to online groups, Usenet, or online forums. Two of the most common examples are Yahoo Groups and Google Groups.
Much like role addresses, emails sent to group addresses will go to anyone on that distribution list.
What Happens If I Upload These Addresses?
Due to their problematic nature, Constant Contact made the business decision long ago to block sending to these addresses through our system (with the exception of a very small number of role addresses). If a couple accidentally end up in your contact list, no big deal! Just move them to your unsubscribe folder and go about your day.
However, if a large number of these addresses are imported, it could indicate an issue with the collection of the list as a whole, and you may be asked to call in for an Account Review so we can set you (and us) up for success.
We have a Knowledge Base article about Role addresses as well as one detailing how to find and remove them.
As always, the experts on our Account Review team can answer any additional questions you may have.
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In my previous post, I discussed List Reviews and Account Reviews . As a quick refresher, List Reviews come about only due to list size, whereas Account Review are due to a specific issue that Compliance would like to discuss with a customer. One of those issue are elevated spam complaints.
What are spam complaints?
Most major email providers (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) provide a button that allows a user to report an email as spam to that provider. This is usually at the top of the page and says something to the effect of “Mark as Spam”.
If an email sent through Constant Contact is marked as spam, it is reported back to us and is accounted for in the reporting for the campaign.
Why are spam complaints problematic?
Put simply: The more spam reports that we receive, the harder it is for us to deliver our mail. If mail providers see that Constant Contact mail generates high complaints, then they may decide to do any number of things. This can range from limiting the amount of mail we can deliver to them at any one time or even outright blocking Constant Contact mail altogether. As you can imagine, this has a major impact on everyone who uses our service.
There is a threshold we follow that dictates an “acceptable” amount of spam complaints, and that is just 0.10%. That’s just one complaint per one thousand emails sent!
What can I do to avoid spam complaints?
It all begins with permission. If the contacts on your list take an action to give you explicit permission (such as on a sign up sheet or an online opt in form), then you’ve already taken a big step in avoiding complaints. Other factors such as sending frequency (don’t send too little, but not too much either), proper branding (make sure they know who sent them the email), and sending relevant information also play a part.
Still Have Questions?
We have resources in our Knowledge base to help you understand and reduce spam reports. We also have an Account Review team who can answer any additional questions.
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One responsibility of the Compliance team is performing Account Reviews (ARs) and List Reviews (LRs) with our customers. Although slightly different in nature, they are both conversations we have in order to gain a better understanding of a customer’s contact lists, sending history, and collection methods. These processes help us know what industry best practices we can recommend, as well as allow us to help protect Constant Contact’s sending reputation so that your emails will get to their intended destination.
What is the difference between a List Review and an Account Review?
Though they are similar, there are some key differences between “LRs” and “ARs”. List Reviews are based on list size; we have proprietary numeric values within every account that will automatically trigger an account for a review based on certain factors. This is often done as part of the onboarding process, and allows us to help our customers with best practices for their contact list and resolve any issues before they occur.
Account Reviews are a little different. An AR is triggered due to a specific Compliance related issue on the account. This could be due to a problematic list import, elevated levels of spam complaints, prohibited content, a terms and condition violation, or simply that we need to learn more about your business to support you properly.
Why Do Email Marketing Providers Review Accounts?
Every email campaign sent from a Constant Contact customer goes out from the same large group of IP addresses. While this lets all of our customers benefit from our good sending reputation, it also means that if a specific IP address should be blocked due to sending to bad addresses or having too many spam complaints against it then it can affect all users of Constant Contact.
What information should I have available during a LR or AR?
During the review process, we’ll be asking questions about your list, collection methods, and sending history. Some helpful information to have readily available is:
Collection methods for the various contact lists
The age of the lists (how long has it been since you first began collecting contacts, or, how long has it been since you’ve interacted with these contacts).
Past emailing history
Have you emailed these contacts before?
If so, were you able to track reports such as bounces and unsubscribes?
Were those contacts removed from this list?
What do I get out of it?
Lots! As you probably know, Constant Contact’s sending reputation is a leader in the industry; however what you may not know is that the reputation of your own sending email address, as well as the content of your email, can affect your delivery. During the review process, we’ll recommend best practices that can help optimize your performance. This is also a great opportunity to pick our brains and ask any Compliance or delivery related questions you may have.
There are times where Compliance may be forced to require that action be taken before we can release an account. In that case, the Account Review representative will fully explain the action needed and why we require it.
For one customer's perspective on the review process, you can check this article out.
What should I do if I am under List Review or Account Review?
There should be a banner towards the top of your account. That banner contains the contact information and hours of our Account Review team. Once you have the time, please reach out to them to perform the review. Please note that due to the nature of List Reviews and Account Reviews, sending privileges are disabled until the review is complete.
Be sure to keep any eye out in the coming months. I’ll be discussing common reasons why accounts are flagged for Account Reviews, as well as some best practices to help to avoid them!
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The more we become reliant on the internet for storing data, shopping, banking, etc, the more cybercriminals will seek to exploit it. Through phishing it is possible for your sensitive data to become compromised. Organizations in particular are at great risk because a single employee who is phished could potentially compromise the entire company’s data. In this post, I’ll be discussing what phishing is, how to identify it, and some best practices to keep you secure in the event you come across it.
What Is Phishing?
Put simply, phishing is the practice of passing oneself off as a legitimate organization via email with the purpose of tricking individuals into revealing their personal information (e.g. usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.).
How Can I Identify A Phishing Email?
Unfortunately, this is a hard one to answer, because every phishing attack is different. That said, there are a few things to look out for:
Misspellings, Poor Grammar, or Typos, ESPECIALLY in Links to Websites:
Phishers will often try to get you to visit a website that is disguised to look like a legitimate popular website. Even if a web address looks correct in an email, it could redirect you to a different website, so watch out!
Requests for Sensitive Information:
If an email ever asks you to provide your password, credit card, bank account number, etc. there is a good chance it is a phishing attempt.
The Email’s “From Address” Differs from the Organization’s Domain:
If you get an email from your bank or from a website you visit, then the email address sending that message should match that organization.
The Email is about Something You Don’t Recognize:
I f you receive an email saying that your order has shipped, you won a contest or that you won the lottery, but you never bought anything, entered a contest, nor bought a lottery ticket then it is probably a scam.
The Message Is Threatening
Be especially wary of any email that says things like: “Urgent Action Required”, “Your Account Will Be Closed”, “Final Warning”, etc. Scammers will often try to scare you into giving up information.
It’s Coming from a Government Agency:
This goes hand in hand with the last point, but scammers will try to pose as the government to intimidate you. It’s unlikely that a government agency will try to reach out to you through email.
Suspicious Emails That Match the Seasons:
It’s not uncommon for a scammer to adapt to the time of year or current events. For example, you may see more scams revolving around packages being delivered and online shopping around the holiday season, or fundraising scams looking to capitalize on a recent tragic event.
What Should I Do If I Receive A Phishing Message?
This will depend on what actions you took upon receiving the message:
I Got the Email, But I Didn’t Respond Or Click on Any Links:
Good! Delete the message and/or report it as Spam. If you got the message to your work email address, you may want to let your IT/Security team know, in case anyone else at your company receives a similar message.
I Clicked a Link in the Email, But Didn’t Enter Any Information:
You’re probably ok. Just to be safe, I’d recommend running a virus scan on your computer, and once again, informing your IT/Security team if it was to your work email address or the link was accessed from your work computer.
I Clicked a Link Or Responded And Provided Sensitive Information:
First, immediately update any username or password that you may have provided. If you use the same username or password for multiple websites (which, as a reminder is not a recommended practice) then be sure to update those as well.
Be sure to contact your IT/Security team if it was to your work email or work computer, as well as any organization related to the scam. For example, if you provided bank account information in response to the phishing message, be sure to contact your bank and tell them. You may need to have new credit cards reissued, added security to your account, etc. You will also want to run a virus scan just in case clicking on the link installed any malware.
Continue to be on the look out for fraudulent charges, suspicious account activity, or anything that may seem out of place.
Please keep in mind that these are only general practices, it would be impossible to dig down into each individual type of phishing scam. A good rule of thumb is: if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t click it. If you are unsure, many websites have in-product messaging, so if there is an issue with your account, there is a good chance you can log in directly from the website and read about it there. When in doubt, contact the organization that potential phishing email appears to be from, but always get contact information by typing website’s URL into your search bar and visiting their website directly, NOT through the possible phishing message.
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Most people know by now that in the world of email marketing, permission-based addresses are considered the gold standard; however, it’s not always clear just what exactly counts as “permission”. It gets even more confusing when you realize that there are different types of permission. In this post, I’m going to look at the two different types of permission: Implied and Explicit
Note: Depending on where you live, what you read, or who you speak to, the terms may be slightly different (such as “implicit” instead of “implied” or “express” instead of “explicit”, however, the definitions remain the same).
Implied permission is when someone provides you his or her email address through regular business communication, but without a direct request for ongoing communication. Some examples might include:
Filling out a Contact Us, Request a Quote, or other similar form
Inquiring about a product or service via email
Business card exchange or badge scan at a networking event
Purchasing a product or service (without there being any opt in option)
Registering for an event (without there being any opt in option)
Signing up for a contest or giveaway
Donating to a charity or political campaign
Requiring an email address to access website content, downloads, etc.
Pros Of Implied Permission:
Requires minimal effort
Generates the most amount of contacts while still falling under the “permission based” umbrella
Eliminates the potential for error on the subscriber’s end
Cons of Implied Permission:
Not considered an email marketing “best practice”
Many contacts may feel violated and complain, which can cause spam complaints, negatively affecting your online reputation
Implied permission lists tend to have lower engagement (Opens, Clicks, etc)
Some people who are savvy to the world of email marketing may have fake or junk email addresses that they use to avoid getting mail they didn’t request.
Some countries (such as Canada) have very strict regulations around implied permission contacts and how long you may use them. (For specific information regarding the Canadian Anti-Spam Laws [CASL] click here)
With Explicit Permission, the contact takes a direct action to request to be on an organization’s mailing list. With this method, there is no question as to whether or not they would like to receive your newsletters. Some examples include:
A newsletter subscription box on the website
An uncheck box on an online form or event registration
Paper and pen sign up form at physical location
Pros Of Explicit Permission:
Considered to be a best practice
Permissible with every current email marketing provider and law
Create a more engaged list of contact who are more likely to generate Opens, Clicks, and Forwards
Can be used in conjunction with a double opt in to create an even cleaner list.
Cons Of Explicit Permission:
Requires a bit more work to get off the ground than implied permission and has a slower growth rate
There is the risk of a potentially interested party not taking the action to fill in a sign up box or check an unchecked sign up box.
It has been my experience that many email marketers have a mix of both implied and explicit contacts. Constant Contact strongly encourages you to utilize explicit permission whenever possible. If you do have contacts that have given implied permission, try to mail to them separately from your explicit contacts. That way any Compliance issues that may occur will not affect your contacts that directly opted in. You may also want to consider trying to get explicit permission from your implied contacts.
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Updated January 2020
Here at Constant Contact, we are an industry leader in email delivery. This is no accident. Our Terms and Conditions are designed to ensure the best possible delivery rate for all of our customers.
That being said, it’s expected (read: absolutely normal) that most email campaigns will have some level of bounces. Knowing the cause and reasons behind these bounces can help you as a marketer to ensure you are mailing to the cleanest, most engaged list that you can. First, I covered Non-Existent and Suspended bounces, then Undeliverable and Blocked bounces; today I will be going over the remaining categories: Mailbox Full, Vacation/Auto-Reply, and Other.
What Is A Mailbox Full Bounce?
When an inbox reaches it’s maximum allowed storage, it will reject the message and bounce it back to Constant Contact as “Mailbox Full.”
If The Recipient Frees Up Space In Their Inbox, Will They Start Getting Mail Again?
Yes; however, I recommend removing these contacts. Here’s why- most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) provide more than enough inbox space for the average user. If someone’s inbox is so full that they can not accept mail, chances are they are not actively checking their mail and therefore are not an engaged contact.
What’s The Deal With The Vacation/Auto-Reply Bounces? When I Set An Auto-Reply, The Mail Waits For Me In My Inbox.
You’re right! This is the exception to the rest of the bounce rules. Messages that show in this category are delivered to the contact, no action on your part is necessary. We include these with the bounces to let you know that you may not see an open/response/click from this customer for a while.
Note: While most of these responses get sent to the actual sender (Constant Contact), some can be sent to the email address you selected as the “from” address for your campaign
What Is The “Other” Bounce Category?
As stated in a previous post, we sort our bounces based on information that the ISPs provide us. If the information they send back isn’t clear, it may get sorted into the “Other” category.
Should I Remove My “Other” Bounces?
That is a tough call. I recommend obtaining a secondary email address for the contact if possible. If the address continually bounces and you are confident that it is a valid contact, then please contact our Support Team to troubleshoot.
Where Can I Find These Bounces?
If you look at the reporting for a specific campaign, click on the number of bounces you have. Then select your choice from the “All types” drop down.
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Updated January 2020
Here at Constant Contact, we are an industry leader in email delivery. This is no accident. All of our Terms and Conditions are designed to ensure the best possible delivery rate. That being said, it’s expected that most email campaigns will have some level of bounces. Knowing the cause and reasons behind these bounces can help you as a marketer to ensure you are mailing to the cleanest, most engaged list that you can. Last month, I spoke about Non-Existent and Suspended Bounces, in this post I will be detailing Undeliverable and Blocked bounce types.
What Are Undeliverable Bounces?
When Constant Contact sends an email to a recipient, but the receiving server can not be found or connected to, the email will bounce as Undeliverable.
For Example: If someone were to send an email to my address, let's say it's email@example.com m; however, at that time the receiving server, in this case it would be example.com , is not responding. The email will bounce as Undeliverable as a result (usually after multiple automated resend attempts).
Isn’t That The Same As A Non-Existent Bounce?
Not at all! A Non-Existent bounce occurs when we connect to the receiving server, but they can not find the address we are trying to send to.
With Undeliverable bounces, that initial connection can’t even be made.
What Are Blocked Bounces?
In the never-ending battle against spam, ISPs do what they can to stay ahead of the curb. Most often, this involves the use of email filters or blocklists to keep there subscribers’ inboxes clean. Sometimes those filters and blocklists end up preventing Constant Contact’s mail from getting to the intended recipient, resulting in a Blocked bounce.
Does A Blocked Bounce Mean That Constant Contact Is Blocked?
Not necessarily, While it’s true that Constant Contact (like all ESPs) may occasionally experience blocking issues at a particular domain/filter/blocklist, most often Blocked bounces occur on a smaller scale. These bounces can occur due to content in the email that a spam filter deems problematic, such as an image, email address, or website. Some ISPs even have rules based around how much mail they accept at a time from any one source, or even block email from bulk senders altogether.
Where Can I Find My Undeliverable and Blocked Bounces?
If you look at the reporting for a specific campaign, click on the number of bounces you have. Then select “Undeliverable” or “Blocked” from the “All Types” drop down.
What Should I Do With Undeliverable and Blocked Bounces?
In the case of Undeliverable bounces, it’s acceptable to try sending to the addresses again after a few hours, just in case it is a temporary issue. If they continually bounce, then we recommend moving them to unsubscribe.
Blocked bounces sometimes take a bit of work to diagnose. First, check the “Email Delivery” row at https://status.constantcontact.com to see if there are any known issues. If that doesn’t help, then please contact our Support Team to troubleshoot.
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Updated January 2020
Here at Constant Contact, we are an industry leader in email delivery. This is no accident. All of our Terms and Conditions are designed to ensure the best possible delivery rate. That being said, it’s expected that most email campaigns will have some level of bounces. Knowing the cause and reasons behind these bounces can help you as a marketer ensure you are mailing to the most current, engaged list that you can. Over the next few months, I will be writing about Constant Contact’s various bounce categories to (hopefully) clear up any questions you may have. In this post, I will be focusing on Non-Existent and Suspended Bounces.
What Are Non-Existent Bounces?
When Constant Contact tries to send an email to an address, it can bounce as Non-Existent if the receiving server tells us that the address in question does not exist.
For Example: Say I have the address “firstname.lastname@example.org”, but I create a new email address and shut down this one. A few months later, if someone tries to send an email to my old address, “example.com” is going to send a message back to the sending server indicating that “email@example.com” is no longer in existence.
What does Constant Contact do with email addresses that consistently bounce as Non-Existent? We “suspend” them.
What Are Suspended Bounces?
Put simply, they are email addresses that have continually bounced as Non-Existent.
Put not so simply, they are not true bounces. They are email addresses that have been placed on a global suppression list of addresses Constant Contact does not send to.
Allow me to explain. When an email bounces as Non-Existent, it is placed on a 15 day hold. During this time, no mail will go to the address in question from any Constant Contact account. After that 15 day period, mail will resume going to the address. If the address continues to bounce as Non-Existent, it will be added to Constant Contact’s global suppression list and show as a Suspended bounce within a bounce report.
Why Does Constant Contact Care About Bounces? (And Why Should You?)
Constant Contact is a “shared IP environment”, meaning that we have a number of IP addresses through which all customers send their mail. To ensure email delivery, we need to take measures to help the reputation of these IP addresses, otherwise ISPs and domains may decide to not accept our mail. Continually mailing to email addresses that bounce as non-existent is frowned upon in the industry and could impact Constant Contact’s ability to deliver your mail to the inbox.
You can help by managing your Non-Existent bounces after each campaign.
How Can I See My Non-Existent and Suspended Bounces?
If you look at the reporting for a specific campaign, click on the number of bounces you have. Then select “Non-Existent” or “Suspended” from the “All types” drop down.
What Should I Do If I Think A Non-Existent (or Suspended Bounce) Is Valid?
Here are a couple of reasons why a valid email address could be bouncing as Non-Existent:
There Is A Typo - Let's face it, nobody is perfect, and most people’s handwriting is certainly less than perfect. Typos happen, and often they can lead to bounced email addresses.
Bounce Coding - We classify bounces based on the information given to us by the receiving server. If the message received is too vague, or points to a Non-Existent bounce when it truly is not, then it could be erroneously categorized.
If you come across a Suspended bounce that you think is valid, you have the ability to unsuspend the contact in your account.
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