Last week I outlined the reasons why you haven’t yet started your own newsletter, and all the steps you need to take to get your newsletter off the ground. This week I’ll help you get that list cleaned up.
For a lot of reasons, you don’t want to try sending mail to every address you’ve harvested from your inbox. First of all, some addresses are probably personal, and you might not want to send your business newsletter to everyone in your family. Next, many addresses that appear on your list are administrative addresses – the one that appears most in my box is email@example.com. Finally, some of the addresses are no longer valid.
For more information about publishing your own newsletter, check out these other articles from Alexis Gutzman’s ongoing weekly series:
Publishing Your Own Newsletter
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 2
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 3
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 4
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 5
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 6
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 7
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 8
Verifying E-mail Addresses
Avoid sending newsletters to bad addresses. If you ultimately decide to use a commercial service to manage your list and send your newsletters, you will usually pay either by the number of messages sent or by the size of your list. If you handle the newsletter mailing yourself, then it becomes a time issue. In either case, you will have to deal with bounced messages. In my own experience, of the 5,000 addresses I harvested from my inbox, roughly one third were bad for one reason or another.
I suggest that the first thing you do is verify the addresses using a tool like Advanced Email Verifier. With Advanced Email Verifier, you import your list of harvested addresses, and click “Start.” For some addresses, such as AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other non-SMTP mail, you can’t verify whether or not the address is good. The mail server won’t cooperate, so you can set the options of Advanced Email Verifier either to assume they’re all good or assume they’re all bad. You won’t know definitively until some bounce. The screen capture below shows the kinds of messages you’re likely to see when the verification is complete. The tool is fast, but not instantaneous. Speed depends on the size of your list, your connection, and the speed of the Web. If your list is really big, run it at night.
You need to have access to port 25 for this to work. If you’re operating within a restrictive firewall, as most users of large ISPs are, then you won’t be able to use this tool. You need either unrestricted access or a hole in your corporate firewall for port 25 access. This software does what your SMTP email server does, which is confirm that the person exists before sending the message. If you don’t have port 25 access, the tools I discuss next week won’t work. In my experience, smaller local ISPs don’t block port 25.
There is a demo version of this software, but you can’t save the results. When you’ve completed the verification using a licensed copy, you can export the good addresses to a file. This will be the list you use for your newsletter.
Unfortunately, verifying the addresses using a tool isn’t enough. Unless your addresses came from a customer database, you probably want to manually remove all administrative addresses such as orders@ anything, support@ anything, listserv@ anything. There are more, but that’s a good start. If you don’t remove these, then you’ll receive automated replies from a lot of places. When you’re doing the manual clean up, you can also remove any personal addresses to which you don’t want the newsletter going.
Next week I’ll discuss the pros and cons of using a commercial service. I’ll also take you through a couple good tools for doing mass mailings.
Note to readers: I am looking for two interns to help with the research for my upcoming book, which now has an official title, “Unforeseen Circumstances: Strategies and Technologies for Protecting Your Business and Your People in an Less Secure World.” These individuals will get excellent experience at researching new technologies, working with publicists, and managing multiple projects concurrently. Applicants should have good communication skills and natural intellectual curiosity. Technical aptitude is a plus. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Alexis D. Gutzman is an author, speaker, and consultant on e-business and e-commerce topics. She’s the producer of The Online Marketing Report. Her most recent book, The E-commerce Arsenal: 12 Technologies You Need to Prevail in the Digital Arena, was named one of the 30 best business books of this year. For up-to-date information about her research and speaking engagements, visit The Alexis Gutzman Group’s Web site.
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