Morgan, R&D and I have been working hard to improve how our code handles sending email - this is to increase the number of emails which make it to the inbox and to reduce the likelihood of being blocked by a major Email Service Provider such as Yahoo or AOL.
Bounces and Feedback Loops
I have signed up for the Feedback Loops of AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail. Now, whenever one of their users reports an email as SPAM, a copy is sent to us. I have code which will, at that point, read our postmaster mailbox and send this data on to the website that sent the email. This works similarly to how Auto-Bounce Detection from 4.0 works.
You can now search for leads who have bounced, who've reported email as SPAM, or by verification status.
On the search results or other similar views, you can now see the status of their email.
A leads summary page now also displays a flag next to their email address indicating the status.
If you (or the lead) edit the email address of a lead who has bounced, they will be marked as "un-bounced", to handle cases where someone fixes a typo.
You can no longer send an email directly to a lead through the backend if the lead has unsubscribed, bounced, or reported.
After discovering some clients were re-subscribing any lead who unsubscribed, we've also removed the options on the lead edit screen to adjust someones subscription settings. Resubscribing someone who has asked to be unsubscribed is a violation of the CAN-SPAM act. Leads of course can modify their own subscription settings in the dashboard on the front end of the site.
Many of the major email providers strongly suggest that people sending marketing email should use double or "confirmed" opt-in. From the AOL Best Practices:
It is preferable to have a double/confirmed opt-in process. When users subscribe to your mailing list, send them an email asking them to click to confirm their opt-in. This will reduce the number of people who sign up from fake email addresses.
The Yahoo Best Practices help article says:
Send email only to those that want it. Spammers write to many people who don't want their mail, so our anti-spam filters are designed to identify that behavior. To avoid being perceived as a spammer, use an opt-in method of subscription for your mailing list. Better yet, utilize a confirmed opt-in process where subscribers actively verify their intent to receive your mailings by clicking on a confirmation email before being added to your list.
We will now be requiring double opt-in for any leads with an email address filtered by AOL, Hotmail, or Yahoo. The list of domains that are covered by this code is easily updateable in the event that we need to add additional domains in the future. The current list is aol.com, aol.ca, love.com, ygm.com, games.com, wow.com, hotmail.com, live.com, live.ca, msn.com, msn.ca, outlook.com, yahoo.com, yahoo.ca, ymail.com, and rocketmail.com.
Any lead who signs up with an email from one of these domains will first need to click a link that is emailed to them before they can access the site. This provides strong proof that they have control of the mail account and accept mail from you. We can use this data when resolving disputes with the email providers if we are blocked. Of course the admin can turn this option on for all the leads in the IDX settings if they wish (and I would appreciate them doing so).
The code for the various marketing mail tools on the site has been updated to not send mail to anyone who has bounced, who has reported an email as spam, or whose domain requires double opt-in but has not verified. This includes Saved Searches, Campaign / Drip emails, Mass Mail sent from the backend, and if you have the Control Panel module, Auto-Search suggestion emails. These functions have always obeyed the leads' subscription status.
Leads who have not visited the site in over 12 months will now be unsubscribed and sent an email inviting them to resubscribe. This will help keep you from emailing leads who are not engaged. If they are still looking for a property and wish to keep receiving emails from you, they just need to click the link. The email will be sent from the leads assigned agent.
Subject: Confirm Your Account
It appears you have not visited www.example.com in a while. In order for you to remain registered for our property search (so that you can save your searches and listings, get notifications of new properties, etc.), you will need to confirm your account by clicking on this link:
News and Alerts
In the left-hand sidebar of the backend there is now a News section. This lets us easily provide everyone with news about upcoming server maintenance or known service interruptions. Now you can stay informed without having to check the forums or my blog.
In 4.0 we changed how Auto-Searches (part of the Control Panel module) worked. They no longer create a saved search, but simply invite the lead to do so with some suggested criteria. But I have found that customers who upgraded to 4.x kept the old Auto Generated Searches they had from their previous version. These emails are by far the most often reported to the Feed Back Loops. During the transfer of saved searches to 4.2 we will now be setting the frequency that these Auto Searches are sent to "Never".
Shortly after the site live is completed, the CSR rep who is doing your upgrade site live will run a script to send an email to anyone who has not visited in 12 months, whose email domain now requires verification, or whose Auto Search was disabled, inviting them to confirm their account. This way, any of your leads who are engaged will be able to continue to receive their listing updates and drip emails. The email will be sent from the leads assigned agent.
Subject: New Website Launched!
We've recently upgraded our website, www.example.com, to provide additional features for our clients as they manage their property search process. Once you have confirmed your account (see the link below), please go to our home page and click on “My Dashboard”. There you will find your own personal page to manage your searches and favorites and you will continue to receive your property updates. If you have any questions or need any assistance please contact us.
These emails will be queued up in the delayed mailer and sent out at approximately 240 per hour. This slow rate should prevent us from getting a server blocked by alerting all these leads.
The end goal of all these changes is to ensure that the leads who are most engaged on your site are always able to receive your important emails and stay in touch. We have a brand new server for all the 4.2 sites and a fresh IP address. REW 4.2 is the best converting framework we have ever built and we will continue to make improvements in the future as the avant-garde of email marketing moves forward. If you have any questions please ask them in the comments below so everyone can benefit from the answer.
P.S. - The verbiage of the two emails above is still up for discussion. If you have a suggestion on how it could be worded better please comment below!