In my e-mail one day, I received the following message:
"Hello, I am a subscriber to your ezine and received the
attached e-mail. Please advise if this is actually from
your website. Thank you."
The attachment was from my mailing list program. It was
informing my dear subscriber that since her mail kept
bouncing, "I`m not going to try again; this message has
been in the queue too long."
1. The Problem
Why was my newsletter bouncing? My mailing list
program reports receiving this message: "...The
information presently available to AOL indicates this
server is transmitting unsolicited e-mail to AOL. Based on
AOL`s Unsolicited Bulk E-mail policy at
http://www.aol.com/info/bulkemail.html AOL cannot accept
further e-mail transactions from this server. Please have
your ISP/ASP or server admin call AOL at 1-888-212-5537,
or visit http://postmaster.info.aol.com for more
Basically, I was being accused of sending unsolicited
commercial e-mail. This was a double opt-in subscriber.
I don`t do spam!
America Online, Inc. (AOL) had blocked my subscriber
from receiving the e-zine she requested. About fifteen
percent of my subscribers use an AOL e-mail address.
Not only am I adversely affected, but my AOL subscribers
are not getting their e-mails.
In contacting AOL sales and technical support, I found
myself against a brick wall. Although, I was repeatedly
offered a free trial to their service, they were unable
to help me regain my subscriber.
"Why don`t you contact your subscriber and have them
whitelist your e-mail address?" How? All I have
is her AOL e-mail address and everything I send to her
fails. Believe me, I`ve tried. (You could use
another e-mail address, I suppose, to trick AOL, but
why should you have to?)
Of course, they absolutely refused to remove the block
against me. (If you would like to learn more about AOL,
try the search terms "AOL" and "AOL sucks" in a major
By the way, it isn`t just AOL that is doing this. Some
other major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are doing
the same thing. As well, some popular e-mail software
programs also filter out wanted e-mails.
2. Some Solutions
If your subscribers are not receiving your newsletter,
here are some things you can do to alleviate the problem.
1. Warn your subscribers. On your newsletter signup
page, explain why they might not receive your e-zine.
Explain about e-mail filters; ask them to whitelist your
domain, not only to bypass the ISP spam filters but also
to allow mail through any e-mail software they may have.
2. Try to avoid using words that trigger spam filters.
Personally, I don`t like this one; it smacks of violating
my right to free speech, freedom of the press, et cetera.
(Yes, I know. With rights come responsibilities. However,
I am acting responsibly!) As a practical matter, though,
it`s something you have to consider. (I had my newsletter
checked by a popular spam checker and it passed with flying
3. Send a text e-mail informing your subscribers that
the current issue of your newsletter is available
online at your website. (It could also be a good move
to have an archive of past issues there, too, to boost
your content and search engine rankings).
4. Consider using alternative ways of communicating.
For example, you might try Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
Oh, by the way, my replies (with read receipt requested)
to my dear subscriber`s e-mail address appear to never have
made it. To her I say: "If you`re out there somewhere,
please re-subscribe. You might want to think about using a
different e-mail address, though."
J. Stephen Pope, President of Pope Consulting Inc.,
http://www.popeconsultinginc.com/ has been helping
clients to earn maximum business profits for over
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