Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Join The Club

"I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." ~ Groucho Marx, US comedian, (1890-1977)
Hey we just got our Yahoo whitelist approval.

They rejected us the first time but we resubmitted and passed. The reason they rejected us?

It was a mistake. A simple error that would have gone unnoticed had we not reapplied. What am I talking about?

You mean you're not whitelisted with the major ISPs?

Let me start over...

A "whitelist" by dictionary definition is a list of accepted items or persons in a set. An inclusionary list confirming that the item being analyzed is acceptable. It is the opposite of a blacklist which confirms that items are not acceptable.

For email, Internet service providers (ISPs) have whitelists that they use to filter e-mail to be delivered to their customers. If a whitelist is exclusive, only e-mail from those on the whitelist will get through. If it is not exclusive, it prevents e-mail from being deleted or sent to the junk mail folder by the spam filter.

The bottom line is that whitelists assist in blocking unwanted messages and allowing wanted messages, often paid subscription email, to get through.

Can you see how important this can be?

Whitelisting will increase your email revenues by increasing your overall delivery... but ISPs don't make it easy to get in the club.

Think about it... if ISP whitelisting were easy it would lose it's value. (Right Groucho?) If spammers could do it there would be no value to it at all.

The underlining purpose is to set yourself apart from the spamming community. You want to show these ISPs that even though you send millions of emails that you are a legitimate email marketer, AND that your list is clean and that it's permission based.

As such, a lengthy application process is just the beginning. ISPs research your company and your practices. They evaluate your e-letter and how recipients respond to it. And most importantly, how you respond to your subscribers, i.e., complaints, unsubscribes, etc.

If you are clean and follow the best email practices you should get whitelisted. But let's put this in perceptive. A whitelist inclusion does not give you licence to then be a jerk, or a "black hatter."

Don't get over aggressive thinking the whitelist will protect you.

Don't resurrect old "held", "bounced" or "cleaned" names to build your list back up. Such behavior will be seen as spam and either get you blacklisted, or blocked.

AND yes... the whitelisting will be removed without chance of reinstatement.

Let's make sure we understand this... whitelist club membership is NOT permanent.

It's not a "free pass" to Inboxes. Your perferred status can be revoked by the ISP at any time, and for any infraction.... and of course, it's most likely that they won't tell you when you're kicked out of the club.

So how do you get approved?

You need a good reputation and you must follow all current best email practices. The ISPs look at such things as:
  • Recipient feedback... (spam complaints) and how many do your campaigns generate?
  • Traffic patterns... do you follow a regular mailing schedule or do you batch & blast?
  • Domain/IP longevity... are you new or an old timer? Newbies are given a much shorter leash.
  • Unsubscribe behavior... How long does it take you to remove an address?
  • Spam trap hits/blocklists... Are your mailings seen as spam to the major ISPs and anti-spam groups?
So go get whitelisted..

And if you're turned down?

All is not lost. It doesn't mean the ISP will automatically block your messages. But understand that they will scrutinize your mailings more closely, apply more filters, and limit the number of messages it will allow through its servers at one time.

It could also mean your messages are delivered to the bulk folders more often if they haven't already added you to their personal whitelist.

Also, if they say no, ask... why?

Hey, you never know they may tell you how to get in. You won't know unless you try, right?

If you don't get in I'd guess you need to bring your spam complaints down and clean your list. I'd also suggest you review your name collection practices too!

Then try again. It's worth the extra effort.


PS - For no other reason than he makes me laugh, more Groucho Marx. This time from "Animal Crackers", (1930):
Capt. Spaulding: Well, art is art, isn't it?

Still, on the other hand, water is water.

And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.