Why Gmail is Rejecting Your Newsletter

Today marks the day that Gmail will  join Hotmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and many other email providers in rejecting emails that aren’t sent from their own servers.

Why Are They Rejecting My Emails?

Many email providers have set up special policies in their email server software that will reject emails that are not sent from their own engines. It’s a good thing, and its something you should be doing when you send out your email too. They are doing this to ward off spam for their readers.

What Happens If I Don’t Fix This?

Your readers will not receive the emails you are sending, period.  This applies to all external, bulk mail systems like Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Aweber, 1ShoppingCart (or any shopping cart), Ontraport, etc. It applies to your shopping cart, any automated emails or bulk that are sent. It also applies to email that you send from your own website, when people sign up for your newsletter, fill in a form or opt-in, your contact me form, and any other automated emails that you send from your website. Again, if you ignore this, your emails will not be received by your readers and website visitors.

Don’t panic. Take a deep breath.

If you use your own domain email address as the “from” address, newsletter@mydomain.com, as an example, you are fine. You have this issue covered.

If you use another email address to send your bulk emails where the domain name is from another company, like those listed above, you need to make some changes.

How Do I Find Out What I’m Using?

Log into any provider of any service that you use to send emails out to your prospect or customer list. Go to the settings for the account and for all the lists and forms that you maintain on the provider’s system. Double check to make sure you are using your own domain email address.

Make a list of all your providers and your website forms and identify the email address that’s being used to send out the email.

I’m Using My Own Domain Email Address

The best solution is to always use an address using your own domain to send out any email. This applies to your newsletter, any bulk email from any external provider and any other emails that you send out from your website.

What If I’m NOT Using My Own Domain Email Address?

If you are NOT using your own domain email address to send bulk and automated emails, you’ll need to use an existing email address or create a new one.

If you don’t have your own domain yet, now is the time to do it. Buy a domain and setup email when you purchase the domain.

Now that you have the email address, get that list out that you made, identifying any of the email addresses you are using to send out your bulk and automated emails.

Log into each service and plug in the new or existing domain email address into all of the software systems that you identified above.

Crisis Averted

You have already been using the proper procedure to send out your automated or bulk email, using your own domain email address, or you’ve now established a new email address and are using it instead of external systems like Gmail. One more step.

Make sure you have that email address or email addresses set up properly on your domain. You’re going to need your own policy set up so that any server that receives an email from you knows you aren’t spam and are sending a valid email from a valid server.

The policy is called an SPF record and its done on your domain, usually using your control panel. Each hosting provider may have a different way of doing this. You’ll have to find out what the method is and create or add to your SPF record to make your email address safe for consumption.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or don’t have the time, I’m happy to take a look at your systems and ensure that your emails to your prospects and clients are being delivered properly.

Gmail will start doing this today, June 30th, 2016, but many other email providers have already implemented this and your emails may already be getting rejected. Don’t wait, get it done now.

Standing Out by Breaking Patterns

How do you stand out in a crowded marketplace? If you’re niche is small and lucrative, good for you – you’re probably doing fine. But for the rest of us, how do we make an impact in our niche when we’re just one more in the crowd? How do we differentiate ourselves from the huge number of competitors we battle with for our clients?

Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick, shows us in his How to Stand Out in Crowded Marketplace video, how to look for and break existing patterns in order to truly stand out.

via Holy Kawl

Thanks a Lot

How do you thank your subscribers when they signup for your ezine or list? Here’s a few suggestions to make your thank you page stand out.

Don’t Use The Default Page

Most list management systems include the ability to use their ‘default’ thank you page. Don’t do it! You’ll have much better luck with your own thank you page.

  • You’ll have the opportunity for company branding and have page look like the rest of your website.
  • Subscribers won’t leave your website.
  • If you use the default page, you’ll leave them on the site provided by your list management company.
  • You’ll have a whole page to introduce yourself, your products and services.

Using Confirmed Optin

In order to achieve the best confirmation rate, your thank you page needs to make it very clear to subscribers that they will receive an email from you shortly. But more importantly, they need to open the message and click on the confirmation link.

If you’re using confirmed optin, they will receive an email from the service you use right after they get to the thank you page. It may get lost in their spam bucket if you don’t head them off at the pass.

Sign up yourself and receive your confirmation email in your inbox. Create a snapshot of the email and ‘white out’ the information you don’t want them to see such as your personal info. Then include that image in your thank you page. You can even highlight the confirmation link and tell them to ‘click here to confirm your subscription’.

Be sure to explain why you’re using confirmed optin and why they have to do this extra step.

Whitelisting Instructions

Whitelisting means that your emails won’t get bumped into your readers spam pile. The simplest thing you can suggest is to suggest that they add you to their allowed senders list and address book. You might offer a list of various instructions, one for each major ISP.

Website Intro

Use your thank you page as an introduction to the rest of your website. Include links to the neglected pages that new users might overlook such as:

  • Contact Us
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • About Us
  • News
  • Programs, Products and Services
  • Your Blog, Video or Podcast

Special Offers

Don’t waste the space you have. This is a perfect opportunity for a first offer.

Anne Holland, Marketing Sherpa’s President, says,

“Another interesting fact: the most popular offer on that page gets a 29% acceptance rate, which is fabulous, but not the whole 39%. That means giving folks a choice on that page has helped our overall offer conversions increase by 10 percentage points.”

You can give your readers a special offer that they can’t get elsewhere on your website. Give them a coupon or a link to a discount on one of your products or services.

How Do You Handle a Hungry Ezine?

I’ve used nearly all the newsletter providers that are out there. Each has their own way of doing things. Let’s talk about a few of my favorites:

1. ConstantContact.com
Pros: Easy to use, template based. I can setup a template for a client that matches their brand and they can continue to send it out without me being involved. If they need help, I can create and send for them.
Cons: The signup process doesn’t allow a person who’s already signed up for the list to download the goodies that are given away with an ezine signup a second time. It just tells them they’re already signed up. I can’t modify the look and feel of the pages that are displayed during the signup or send the user to my own page. Pricing structure is based on how many emails you send out – it can quite hefty for larger lists.

2. CampaignMonitor.com
Pros: Easy to use, for me, that is. Its geared toward a designer, not the client. But never fear, they have a client based version – MailBuild.com. I like CampaignMonitor, it gives me complete control for how the email looks, no templates, just html code. They have a great facility available to test emails for various email clients – you get an image of what they email looks like to each of them email clients. You’d be surprised how a little change in the html code can make your ezine look horrible. Also has the ability to verify your emails with the various receivers (Yahoo, Gmail, etc) by altering your DNS info.
Cons: Pricing structure is based on each mailing and how many you send out for that mailing. You pay $5 bucks per mailing plus 5 cents per subscriber. Hefty cost if you have a large ezine list. The delivery rates seem a bit low to me, but I’m continuing to test.

Pros: Unlimited lists, unlimited autoresponders, low cost. Provides templates or the ability to use your own html content. RSS feed/Archive for your sent ezines. Pricing is easy – flat rate $20 per month.
Cons: Import facility is extremely sensitive – each email is checked for accuracy and can take a bit for each import to be reviewed by the Aweber folks.

4. MailChimp
Pros: Pretty much the same features as CampaignMonitor with a new version on its heels that seems to knock the socks off it. Templates, write your own html, A/B split testing, simple import method, an API, archive, RSS, spam checking, google analytics integration.
Cons: Darn pricing structure again. About the same as CampaignMonitor – $15 for 0-500 and it goes up from there.

So what’s a person to pick. Just like I tell people about hosting selection. Go with what works for you now. Be flexible enough to realize that what you pick today may not work a couple of months from now. The important thing is being consistent in your delivery and letting your customers know if you switch. Let them have ample opportunity to know that you’ll be changing and be aware that you may lose subscribers. There are methods to keep your existing subscribers and increasing your readership.

What do you use? How’s it working for you?

We Can't Help You

I’ve heard of doctor’s telling a patient that there is nothing they can do for an extremley ill patient. But I’ve never heard of a branding company telling a client – We just can’t help you.

A client of mine has been having a struggle over the years in trying to determine who they want to be known as, who they offer their services to and what services they offer. Its a common struggle. We all go down the path of least resistance, if something doesn’t work, we try something else. Pretty soon, we have 20 different websites, 20 different email addresses, blogs, podcasts, newsletters. This is the one I use for this group of people and this is the one I use for this group. I use this for corporate and this for individuals, this one for small business, this one for coaching, you get the idea.

Well, he visited with a branding company trying to solve this issue. Who am I, who do I serve and what do I serve? They told him that until he knows the answers to those questions, they couldn’t possibly help him with branding. While I understand that a branding company may not want to undertake a confused company owner, we’re all confused in the beginning. Until we discover our niche, or our niche discovers us, its a journey we have to go on. I think that a branding company should be partially responsible for that discovery process.

To just simply send the client away is inexcusable. Do you think that Bill Gates knew he was going to be the mogul he is today back in 1975? I’m sure he had dreams of where he was going, but he struggled with the issue. Microsoft – hmm, do I create software? Do I create computers? Do we specialize in PC software or are we a software company that makes software products for everyone? Microsoft re-brands itself on a regular basis, as does Apple and many others. Look at the various companies that change their branding, their packaging, their products, their everything.

Who better to have helped a client with a branding decision then a branding company? Back to the doctor metaphor, we go to a doctor to diagnose a problem and help us solve our illness or injury. We may not know why our back hurts, but that’s the doctor’s job to find out why. Isn’t it a branding company’s job to identify what’s wrong with a company’s branding and get it back on track? Shouldn’t they have access to tools to identify the best fit for me, the best fit for a niche, the best fit for services? Then turn it all into a branding plan that incorporates what we’ve learned together?

Are you selling your ads or your product?

In the most recent issue of Business 2.0, there is an article about companies that spend more time on the content of the advertisement rather then on the selling of the product.

Take as an example, the famous Paris Hilton hamburger commercial Which, thankfully, seems to be off the air. Are they trying to sell Paris or the burger. Truly, did all you guys rush right out and buy the burger because you saw Hilton washing the car and eating the burger?

What makes us buy products? If we’re six, it might be the commercial on the Saturday cartoon show that entices us with a new robot toy. But if we’re 46, I hope that we pay more attention to the product instead of the ad. I’m curious what the ROI was on that ad. Will it make them want to produce other commercials just like it or was it a flop that will make them redo their commercials?

When I see the formula sales pages on websites, they all seem to look the same. They follow the same guidelines. Title that entices at the top, bulletted benefits, call to action, and so on. Are we such sheep that we blindly click on these formula pages and purchase the products? Is there any sense whatsoever in being different and coming up with a new approach or is that the kiss of death?

So many websites seem to have the same look now – the Kubrick rounded header, the centered content, faded borders around the edges. It seems like such a waste of website power – everything with the same look. Isn’t that what the web is supposed to be all about? I don’t want all the websites I visit to look alike, yet, am I risking my site if I venture out of the standard formula?

A Marketing Approach

We reach out to obtain new clients – prospects we have yet to meet. We tap prospective clients. past and existing clients to remind them to utilize our services and pass along referrals to others. We touch existing clients to continue to use our services and to pass along referrals to others.

Why not create a system based around this approach?

According to different industries, the numbers vary but the statistical percentages stay the same. In your industry, it takes x number of people in your marketing funnel to create a customer. If you reach out to x number of people per year – you end up with y number of prospective clients. With a set number of prospects, it takes you z number of prospects to make one client.

Let’s start with the following:

1. Reach out 12 times a year to a mailing of people in your niche
How many prospects does your mailing yield over the year and monthly?
2. Tap the resulting prospects 52 times per year
How many prospects become clients?
How many taps did it take each of them before they became a client?
How many taps resulted in referrals?
3. Touch your resulting clients 8 times during the beginning
8 weeks of your new relationship.
How many touches resulted in referrals?
How many touches did it take before a referral was given?
How many clients stayed on after their initial period?

Systematic and well worth the effort to track. What are your marketing statistics?

Blinders On

My subdivision allows horses. In fact, there is a horse trail in the same place you’d normally find the sidewalk. Every now and then, a horse and rider plod past. There is one I always rush outside to see. She plods down the street, a covered wagon (Yes, a real one) behind her. She wears blinders to keep from being distracted by traffic, people and to protect her from bolting.

Sometimes I feel like I need a set of blinders. Put on my blinders, start up the computer and actually get everything done for a change. Instead, I’m rampaged by email I don’t read, websites that scream for my attention, ebooks, blogs, webinars, magazines, television, radio, affiliate programs, software that makes big claims, seminars I should attend, products I need to buy, bills I have to pay. I’d like to put on my blinders and just plod down the highway, and for once get to my destination.

Being Too Outrageous

Is there such a thing as being too outrageous? My coach, Chris Barrow, put out an offering that has some outrageous content – GetYourYearInGear.com. Its probably pretty tame, language wise, but marketing wise, it certainly stretches boundaries.

How far can you stretch your language boundaries in the business world. Writing vulgar or offensive language isn’t what you want to be remembered for. But many business bloggers regularly bend the edges of their boundaries by discussing their personal lives and loves. Do you lose people who might otherwise become customers? Do you care if you do?

Is it more important to expand what we’re willing to say in an effort to garner attention and customers? Or is it more important to be less outrageous and ensure you aren’t offending.

I’m considering a program to help people get their websites up and running. Some off-color language comes to mind when I think about the program. Am I being too safe by avoiding the use of inuendos and suggestion? Or should I go with it and say what I want to say?