What to write, what to write? Mailing lists and other necessary things.

by admin on June 9, 2009

A story over the weekend in the NY Times caught my eye as it was about blogs abandoned by their owners. Hilarious title: "When the thrill of blogging is gone."

Well, yeah,  I look in my archives all the time to get a tingly feeling. But seriously folks, it is difficult sometimes to blog, especially when and if you got 3 hours of sleep overnight because one of your little ones decided that a vomit marathon is in order.

It is also doesn't help if you are doing that is somewhat boring, tedious and absolutely necessary to finish before moving on to something (hopefully) more interesting. Like mailing lists: I'm working on fixing a mailing list for a client that has about 17,000 address that at some point or another opted-in to receive newsletters. However, something funny is going on, when a blast is sent out with the info that the lastest newsletter has hit the website, we get a response of about point 6 percent. This is brutal. A mediocre response rate is 4%, a good rate is 10-15%. We are ten times below mediocre.

Here is where the tedium starts: What is going on? Now you've got to dig into the guts of email marketing, circa 2009. It's doesn't take much research to discover that the spam filters on the mail servers of today are very sensitive to spam. Sending pure HTML can trigger the spam filter. Blasting out to and email list that has a number of obsolete or deleted mailboxes can trigger a spam filter. Blowing your nose on your t-shirt instead of using a tissue can trigger the spamhammer.

How to fix this? Well, we have spending a lot of time trying to find a decent mailing list application that didn't cost a lot of money and offered the ability to swap out different Ips and domain names (as well as offering the mandatories like an opt-in/opt-out button) and we looked at a few pay-for-delivery packages but finally settled on pommo, an open-source mailing list program. Advantages of pommo was that it had the essential features we needed, it was pretty easy to install on the server (easier than WordPress, if you can believe that), and it's free, as in no charge to send out email blasts.

The last feature is important,  because we still haven't figured why the response rate is so pathetically low. Like maybe it's not the spam filters, it could that nobody is interested in the newsletter. In which case, should we even bother with email blasts at all?

To be continued....

Comments on this entry are closed.