I know alot of you small business owners out there are using mailing lists to help market your products and services. You are starting to build a list using Mailchimp, Constant Contact or another provider. That's great. Email lists can be very effective and in many cases work better than social media, but that's another discussion.
I've spent a fair amount of time configuring settings for my own mailing list recently and I wanted to share a few lessons I learned along the way. I have a sinking suspicion that many small businesses that are not aware of this issue. So I figured I'd write a blog about it to share it with a wide audience.
Here's the main point:
Email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, etc will do things to your emails that will reduce their effectiveness in a very big way if you don't properly configure your own settings.
What can they do to reduce effectiveness you might ask? Here are two common examples:
1. They will send your emails into the spam folder of the intended recipient.
2. They will hide any images by default in your emails when the recipient opens them.
Both of these things drastically reduce the effectiveness of the message you are trying to communicate. If your emails are getting this treatment, stop sending them immediately and fix the underlying problem.
How do you know if this is happening? You can't always know for every person if it's happening, but you can send some test emails to yourself and see if it's happening. If it's happening to you, it's likely going to happen to others.
It's helpful to understand why email providers would do this. In brief, it's their way of shielding their users from spam. If you don't configure your own settings properly then the email service providers will assume you are sending spam. That's not a good place to be.
So here's how you can not look like a spammer:
1. Make sure the "From" address in your mailing campaigns is not something like JaneDoe@hotmail.com. Instead make sure to use an email address with a domain that you own. In my case, I use firstname.lastname@example.org. To mail providers, that looks like something that's much less likely to be spam than some random @hotmail address.
2. Look into your DKIM and SPF configuration settings. I won't get into all the details of DKIM and SPF but just know they are settings and protocols that are designed to reduce spam. You'll need to make a few configuration changes with your DNS provider that shows that you actually own the domain that you are using in your mailing list campaigns. Do a search on the support site of your mailing list provider for "DKIM and SPF settings" and you will find instructions on how to complete this. Or ask your IT person to confirm these things are setup properly.
Once these two things are complete you will no longer look like a spammer and your emails should be delivered correctly.
I'd love to hear your feedback on this topic - let me know what you think.