11 Ways on how not to end up on the spam/bulk folder

You don’t need to actually spam these days to end up on bulk or spam folder. It just takes a bit of patience to get out of there,  there is no magic bullet or red pill to do the job quickly and painlessly.  It is incredibly frustrating to deal with some largish Internet companies these days where the attitude is ‘our machines+algorithms are smarter than you’.

1. Don’t host your sites at spam friendly hosting providers. If you are on a shared hosting service don’t abuse the resources(and don’t host on a provider who lets other shared hosting customers abuse the resources).  Check against some known spam blacklists.

2. postmaster@ or abuse@ addresses of large e-mail providers do respond to your requests to whitelist provided
a) your customers opted-in to receive e-mail on the topic you are sending them e-mail, it is not ok to send marketing e-mails to customers who signed up to receive some kind of alerts.
b) make it as easy to un-subscribe for customers as atleast as easy as it is to hit the spam button, see point 11.
c) Honest mistakes(say your server got cracked and sent out a million ‘viagra’ e-mails) are forgiven more easily than willful spamming

3.  Requesting your customers to add your newsletter ‘From’ address to their addressbooks seems to help esp. with some providers.
4. Rate limiting number of e-mails per minute is a good idea otherwise its considered DoS type abuse of services by e-mail providers, most will send you to a tarpit .
5. Keep the lines of communication open at your own postmaster@, abuse@ addresses, list out a phone number for abuse complaints, listen to the bounces and customer feedback. Do not send e-mail from un-monitored e-mail IDs and rub it in by calling them donotreply@ or similar.
6. Logs are you friends, log all e-mail send actions in your web application.
7. Guard your reputation against joe-job accusations  by using one or more sender identification/authentication/reputation frameworks like SPF and DKIM
8. Make sure you have DNS reverse records for your MTA.
9. Never use a bulk mailing software from your home DSL connection
10) Most indian companies(job sites, mutual funds, banks, online travel companies  with a few notable exceptions, credit card companies and most of the social networks) don’t give a damn if a customer doesn’t want to receive their e-mails or SMS’es. Don’t be like them. Differentiate yourself
11) Add ‘a one click un-subscribe’, and ability to ‘delete’ the account of a subscriber by the subscriber herself from your web-service. A non-tedious one click un-subscribe not requiring a person to login to your site goes a long way in avoiding subscriber anger and consequent hitting of [this is spam] button in frustration. Also if one is running a social network, allowing a digest style bunching of invites/referrals/shares/ratings and other communication received over a day/week.
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