That's Not Spam, That's My Newsletter! By Jessica Albon
Copyright 2003, The Write Exposure
For those of us who receive way too many unsolicited emails, Spam filters are a blessing. Switch to publisher's side of desk, though, and Spam filters can become problematic.
Before you can keep your opt-in newsletter out of Spam filter's reach, you have to learn a little about kinds of Spam filters available. Currently, options range from those installed by an ISP, like Spam Assassin, to those that run with another program, like Microsoft's Outlook, as is case with cloudmark's SpamNet. Spam Assassin uses a point system to determine whether or not a piece of email is Spam. The more points a particular email collects, more likely it is to be Spam. SpamNet not only filters based on key words (free!, for instance), but also allows users to submit Spam to then be blocked for other users. Most Spam filters use some sort of blacklist of known Spammers to block emails.
The other component you'll need to be aware of is blacklist. As mentioned, most of available Spam filters use one or more of these collections of email addresses and domain names that send out a lot of Spam. Blacklists are primarily compiled by volunteers. In other words, you mail them Spam you receive in your inbox, they take a look at it and then decide whether or not to add sender to their list.
Because Spam filters have both a computer component (such as points system used by Spam Assassin), and a human component (such as blacklists and new system from SpamNet), you'll need to make sure your newsletter doesn't raise flags in either camp. Here are some suggestions for avoiding problems.
So your newsletter convinces people
1. Never send your newsletter unsolicited, not even to current or past customers (it's easy enough to ask them if they'd like to be subscribed with a personal email). In fact, it's a risk even to send your newsletter to a list you've purchased no matter what you've been told about intent of list's subscribers-can you be sure all of subscribers expected to receive your email on widgets just because they checked a box saying they were interested in widgets? This will help keep you off "blacklists" that are available to Spam filters.
2. Provide what you say you will, when you say you will. Don't mislead your audience at subscribing stage and don't send out emails with manipulative subject lines. Not only is this not good for your reputation, but it may also trigger common Spam filters.