No one ever thinks it will happen to them, until it does. You’re going about your day, emailing your clients, but no one seems to be getting back to you. Did you suddenly become invisible? Did you enter some alternate reality where you’re the only person left in the world? You check in with your colleague next door who acknowledges your existence with a friendly “hello”. He also mentions to you that one of his vendors didn’t seem to get his order this morning. Can you check into it?
If this scenario is familiar than chances are you’ve experienced the pain of blacklisting yourself. A blacklist is a list of IP addresses, domains, or senders known or suspected of sending spam. It is created by an anti-spam organization and blocks the receipt of mail from senders who have been listed. If you end up on a blacklist, your recipients will not get your emails. You may not receive a bounceback, and chances are good that neither you nor your recipients will know about it for at least a few hours.
Nowadays the loss of email is comparable to the loss of telephone services or an electrical outage, and can nearly shut your business down.
Since getting blacklisted is not uncommon, it’s worth exploring strategies to prevent blacklisting, even if this hasn’t happened to you yet. Here are some strategies to help you prevent this annoying productivity-killer:
1. Ensure you have anti-malware installed on all your servers and computers
A simple step, but it bears repeating, since anti-malware will help prevent hackers from gaining access to your exchange server and using it to send out spam.
2. Use an incoming spam filter
Using an email hygiene service like LogicalVault which scans email before releasing to your server can help prevent any nasty viruses from getting through to you.
3. Educate your employees to prevent them from forwarding suspicious emails outside of the company
Forwarding spam emails that made it through your filter are a major cause of blacklisting. For example if your employee ‘email@example.com’ relayed a suspicious email to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ Yahoo might perceive your IP as relaying the spam message to their server, even though you didn’t originate it. Teach your employees to mark suspicious emails as spam.
4. Educate your employees about trigger keywords
Some examples of keywords that trigger spam filters include “clearance” “be your own boss” and (surprize!) “score with babes”. You can search online for a list of trigger words. This is likely to cause an issue only if you are sending a high volume of emails with these types of words, which leads us to number 5 –
5. Use an email service provider (ESP) to send out your marketing and sales related emails and invitations
We all know your intentions are good, but the spam filters don’t! As soon as you have a list of clients or prospects that you market to on a regular basis you should research the many email marketing services out there and select one with a price point and features that work for you. Be sure you keep your list updated. Emails sent out from an ESP to dormant email addresses or marked as spam by your recipients may still get your IP address blacklisted, but these companies often have good relationships with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and blacklist holders which can help ensure you are taken off any lists quickly.
The final question you’re probably asking yourself is how you can permanently prevent your emails from being blacklisted. The answer is – you can’t. The strategies above only reduce your risk. But considering how reliant businesses are on email these days to communicate with customers and clients, a few minutes spent implementing steps for prevention can save hours in lost productivity later.
If you’re looking for help with implementing these strategies just let us know, we’ll be happy to help.