How to do a Non-Spam Mass Mailing?
June 3, 2008 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I have an opt-in mailing list of 8000 people to which I send very infrequent updates and announcements. Understandably, in response to spam, constraints on such mailings keep strengthening. But while the spammers don't seem to be very constrained, I, as a legitimate mass mailer, find it increasingly difficult.

It's been a couple of years since my last mailing, and this time I feel thoroughly blocked. I know I can install phplist, etc, but I can't find an ISP willing to let that flow through, and I'd rather not be forced to send a couple hundred at a time, generously spaced. Also it worries me that while my list is opt-in, 1% or so will inevitably forget they signed up and will complain to ISPs, constraining me even more.

How do legitimate mass mailers do their work in this day and age? Do we have no alternative but to go to the black hats and rent squadrons of Zombie computers to send out our cheery newsletters?

In fact, can we even discuss the topic here in public without helping the Bad Guys? Feel free to send private suggestions if that seems more comfortable. If you even believe I'm not a spammer. Argh.
posted by Quisp Lover to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: please talk to me about what you are doing here that you can not be doing here. -- jessamyn

This is just a dozen posts down, might be helpful.
posted by loiseau at 10:16 AM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting, yes (so thanks!). Helpful, not really. Alas.

I thought the infrequency of this list was a big part of what made it non-annoying, a word, legitimate. But that thread indicates that greater flow actually lends more legitimacy. I guess the most legitimacy is afforded to out-and-out spam, since those guy seem to have no problem at all.

I understand why this situation is as it is. I reallly truly get it. But I'm frustrated, that's all.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2008

When you start getting thousands of subscribers, you should probably think about going with a company that specializes in it, like CampaignMonitor. It's a penny per email, but if it's for a business making thousands of dollars a month, spending a hundred bucks here and there for well-designed email that gets to everyone should be worth it.
posted by mathowie at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2008

Part of the annoyance from the receiving end is that there is opt-in, and then there is opt-in. I keep ending up on mailing lists by ordering from a business and it will seem that somewhere on the order page was a button to click to say "no thanks, no newsletter" that I missed, or maybe just fine print saying "by ordering you are saying 'yes' to the newsletter." And then I have to jump through hoops to get off these stupid things.

Last month I ordered a bunch of used books via abebooks or a similar site, and three or four of the individual used bookstores (that I never dealt with directly, but who sent me the books I had ordered from the central website) have now added me to their mailing lists, and are being quite resistant to taking me off those lists. I haven't yet bothered to complain to ISPs, etc, but soon will if this continues.

So this is the context for why this is being difficult for mass mailers -- over and above the overt spammers (whom everyone loves to hate), a lot of legitimate mass-mailers aren't exactly following best practices and are generating a lot of grumpiness.

How good your opt-in practices are, I don't know, and how much value are in your mailings, I also don't know. But if the value is low and the opt-in process is dubious (or is from some years back, too), then I'd ask what you are hoping people will get out of the mailing. If you sent an email to all 8000 people saying "reply if you want to receive future mailings," how many would reply?
posted by Forktine at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: Mathowie, CampaignMonitor intrigues, but this isn't for a business. No money involved. On the other hand, if I can buy my way out of the headache it may indeed be worth it, especially as my mailings are so extremely infrequent.

Forktine, People signed up by responding to an invitation to email a join request. So it's very opt-in. that said, a few always forget they asked. Especially because in some cases it was a loooong time ago.
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:17 AM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: Also, I'm concerned about the success rate of Campaign Monitor. They may already be partially blacklisted. I'd imagine they'd have to be, no?
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: Hmmm.....

"We currently deliver campaigns from the following IP addresses:
If you ever run into deliverability problems for a particular client, you might want to consider getting their mail administrator to whitelist these IP's to guarantee delivery of your campaigns. These IP's may change in the future as we add more delivery servers to ensure optimal delivery speeds.
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2008

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