So you think all of your subscribers are receiving your ezine? Better think again. With the rise of Spam filtering software, both by ISP's and end users, odds are your ezine may be getting deleted before it's even delivered to your subscribers.
There are two main types of filters: those installed on the end user's computer and server side programs used by Internet Service Providers. The most popular program used is http://SpamAssassin.org
So what does this mean to you as a publisher? If you want to make sure your ezine is being read you'll want to pay close attention to the tips given here. After all, do you spend your time writing a good ezine just to have it sent to the trash? I didn't think so.
Spam filters work by counting the words in your ezine that fall on their “target lists, " each of which has been assigned a numeric value. After they're done “scanning" your email, they add up your score. If your total value is above a set number, it is determined to be “spam" and sent to the trash bin. Gone forever, and your subscribers are none the wiser. Filters search the message, the header, the subject line and looks at the formatting as well. To see what Spam Assassin looks at go to. . . . http://www.spamassassin.org/tests.html
I personally use filtering software due to the hundreds of unsolicited messages I receive daily. But I always go through the “trash bin" first and glance through it before hitting the delete key to make sure it hasn't captured something I want or need. The problem is that most users of filtering software either don't want to spend the time, or don't know how to check it to see what was “killed. " So many of them may be missing your ezine, even though they have subscribed to receive it.
Now do you see how tough it is just getting your ezine into the hands of your subscribers? The trick is to be “smarter" then the filters and utilize some of the great free tools that have sprung up to help publishers with this exact problem.
Before sending out your next issue, run it through one of these free checkers to see if it will make it past the filters and find out what your ezines total score is along with tips on how to improve.
1) SiteSell Spam Check http://spamcheck. sitesell.com
Go to the above url or submit your ezine to mailto:email@example.com with the word TEST in all caps before your ezine name in the subject line.
Example: TEST Merle's Mission Ezine
2) Lyris Content Checker http://www.lyris.com/contentchecker/
Runs your ezine through a battery of tests used by “Spam Assassin. " Paste your ezine into the web based form, hit submit and the results will be emailed to you.
3) AssuranceSys.com- If you don't mind parting with some of your cash, Assurance Systems will run a variety of tests for you and let you know how your ezine stacks up against the filters and if you've been blacklisted. Check them out at http://AssuranceSys.com
So what's considered “bad" to filtering software and what can you do to reduce your score? I thought you'd never ask. Here are some tips to help:
1) Be careful with your subject line- Avoid the word free or using all caps or excessive punctuation.
2) Using a lot of fancy HTML formatting can hurt you. Many filters will kill HTML emails as a given mistaking them for viruses.
3) A larger size can actually help you. Anywhere from 20k to 40K is good and will actually subtract bad points from your total score.
4) Blocking: Make sure your IP address is not being blacklisted. This can happen if your site is hosted on an open relay or you're sharing an IP address with someone who is a known spammer. You don't want to get yourself blacklisted so be careful here.
5) Avoid the use of the words free, click here, remove, spam, and any others known to be on the list. This is pretty hard. Some publishers have resorted to putting * or ^ in exchange for letters. For example fr^e or Sp*m- It's highly debatable if this will work or not since most filters will be catching on to this technique soon if they haven't already.
6) Set up free accounts at Yahoo and Hotmail and subscribe to your own ezine and monitor the boxes to see if your ezine is making it through their filters.
For further tips I recommend the following resources:
"Avoid the Spam Filter Trap" http://assurance. sys.com/f/avoid-spam-filter-trap. pdf
"List of Filtering Trigger Words" http://www.iprofitsystems.com/articles/spamfilters.html
"20 Ways Opt in Emailers can Outsmart Spam Filters" http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt8/spamfilter-avoidance.htm
Nice list of trigger words here: http://www.sv-cs. spam.html
As you can see, publishing an ezine and getting it to your subscribers is no longer an easy task. One practice that has been adopted by some publishers is to send a follow-up email after your ezine has gone out, stating that it has been sent, including a url where your subscribers can go to read the issue online. I do this and every week that link registers 50 to 100 clicks, so obviously a lot of people aren't getting it the first time.
There's also a new service called Habeas.com which is a whitelisting tool. For a large sum of cash they'll give you a line of code to add to your email headers which guarantees your message will pass through the filters. They have special relationships with ISP's and mail filters that recognize the header labeling you a “good guy. " It's not inexpensive. Visit their site for more info on how it works at http://habeas.com
There's no way to beat filtering, but by being informed and knowing what you're up against and how to improve, you'll stand a much better chance of getting your ezine where it needs to be. And that's why you started publishing in the 1st place, isn't it?
Merle has been “working" the Net for over 8 years and has a Special Gift just for you. Download my FREE E-book “50 Easy Ways to Promote Your Website". Get your copy now at http://www.WebSiteTrafficPlan.com
You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included.