When it comes to advertising your website, your products or services, one of the most common methods many business owners and even freelancers neglect is Email Marketing. Yes, you heard right, email marketing. Such a scary idea isn’t it?… considering that you’re probably thinking, “Oh no, I’ll be labeled a spammer”!
Well, fear not! I, Mr Freelancer will explain the nitty gritty about email marketing the “proper” way….. of course, as a disclaimer, this “proper” way may be subject to interpretation by critique -artists and bashers of all kinds, but hear me out if you will. It’s a common knowledge that spammers are the scum of the earth and should be locked up for eon’s time, thus, there are several techniques in email marketing that one should adhere to so as not to fall into that category of “scum-of-the-earth”. Some of these techniques I will illustrate down below.
One of the biggest things one should do is follow the email RFC 2821 & RFC 2822. These are nothing more than “standard” protocols and procedures an email should follow. Really in a nutshell, these two standards alone are “almost” enough to be your guiding light. However, there’s more….
Domainkeys & SPF
These two concepts are relatively new. Both act like “digital signatures” when sending an email as a means to “authenticate” the sender and help combat spam. Domainkeys were developed by Yahoo! and thus currently deployed by them and Google. It’s a good idea to implement these two if possible, at least I did and wow, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in mail being delivered to the Inbox. They’re not the easiest things to install with a green light but there are plenty of articles and tutorials in dealing with just that. In fact, here’s a great place to get started.
Proper Email Headers
Although this can be covered under the RFCs, I’d like to mention it here to stress the importance of proper email headers. Having your typical “From”, “To” and “Subject” headers is typically NOT enough; especially if you’re sending email via a script such as PHP. Here’s a few others you should really consider….
Sender: the “real” “From” header. This will tell email programs where the email possibly came from. It’s especially needed if you plan on implementing Domainkeys.
Reply-To: the address the recipient will reply to. This will be the header used when the recipient clicks on the “reply to” button.
Return-Path: Generally used via the email servers. An example would be bounced emails. Bounced emails will use this header if it’s specified.
Date: Kind of sounds silly, but yes, it’s a good idea to add this. Typically Comcast servers will flag emails with a caution of “Non RFC compliant” in the header.
Other notible headers would include, Message-ID, X-Mailer & MIME-Version. Ever since I’ve implemented all these headers, including some obscure ones, my email delivery rate has nearly been 100%. In fact, Yahoo! themselves has even whitelisted the emailing services at freelancer Listing because of the fact that Freelancer Listing implements ALL these procedures and more.
Proper DNS Records & Host Name
Having proper DNS records, including an rDNS is quite crucial in th eyes of the big boys such as Yahoo!, Google and ol’ Bill Gates. These are used to “authenticate” the email and from whence it came. *By the way, for those of you who use PHP (or any other server-side script) to send emails, sending as “nobody” will cost you. I hate to say it but email standards are getting tighter and tighter and a message from “nobody” is basically shooting yourself in the foot. I myself am an avid PHPer (no cut-n-paste here), and I’ve learned a looooong time ago to make sure to avoid the “nobody”.
With all those and some common sense…. and a little luck, you can email blast those flyers, brochures and specials to all your clients, customers and prospects without too much fear of being labeled a spammer. Of course, I’m not to blame if you “do” get called a spammer. After all, the “spam button” is all too easy to press these days.
Last but not least, you’ve got to find a reputable and good email marketing service. There are plenty of them out there such as iContact & ConstactContact, but pick and choose wisely since many of them do not follow said protocols and procedures. However, freelancerlisting.net is one of the few (pretty new), that is a bang-for-your-buck! You get a ton of services and resources for FREE and even more for less than $10, all designed for business owners and freelancers! The best feature is their “MyEmail Campaigner”, a powerful email marketing tool that comes with a FREE huge contact list storage system.themagiconions