Over the last couple of weeks I have been in charge of a migration from one Salsa Labs platform to another. The reason for this seemingly meaningless and unrecognizable change, at first glance to the end-user, is to host the KeepAmericaFishing™ actions, e-mail and donation forms on their own dedicated IP address. Previously, KeepAmericaFishing actions, e-mails and donation forms were hosted on a shared server and IP address with other clients of Salsa Labs.
Due to anticipated growth for the KeepAmericaFishing database and platform, we chose to migrate all of our data so that we are not subject to the actions of other clients on the Salsa Labs IP address that we previously shared and nor are those other clients subject to the impact of KeepAmericaFishing’s actions on the previous IP address. In the world of mass e-mail marketing, the integrity of your data and the repuation of your IP address with internet service providers (ISPs, think of AOL, Gmail and Hotmail as the big three) is of the utmost concern.
Once you are blacklisted, when an e-mail ISP blocks your messages emanating from a given IP address from delivery, it is incredibly difficult to get back on the whitelist. There are several reasons why someone engaging in e-mail marketing would arrive on a blacklist:
- Too many people are clicking on the “spam” link in their e-mail browsers (this is especially the case with many people who use AOL as their e-mail provider) because it is easy to do so.
- Too many messages are non-deliverable such as an incorrect e-mail address or an address that is not found on that server.
- Too many of the e-mail addresses are full and never checked that you are delivering to; this could be because they are old or abandoned e-mail addresses that people could have set up long ago and got too many spam messages and decided not to use that e-mail account any more.
- Too many e-mails are coming too fast that you have never attempted to deliver to a given ISP server. The server sees this and says, “hey, you’ve never tried to deliver this many e-mail addresses before and I don’t recognize your IP address.”
- You are delivering to new addresses with a new IP address
- You don’t have a long relationship with a given ISP server with your IP address
Getting back on the whitelist, is terribly difficult because you have to interact with those people who run the ISPs, build rapport with them, ensure that all e-mail addresses acquired are not in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. You can easily violate the CAN-SPAM Act when you:
- Purchase e-mail addresses outright and send to them without the person who the e-mail address belongs to specifically taking an action to indicate that they would like to receive messages from your IP address/organization.
- Send to e-mail addresses who have not opted-in to recieve your messages (very simiar to the first bullet in this list)
- Learn more here
Beyond ending up on a blacklist, there is a serious concern that one does not break the law when engaging in e-mail marketing.
Further, these laws of nature in the word of e-marketing are infitely more restrictive when it comes to marketing via SMS or text messages because not everyone is on an unlimited text message plan and cell phone companies can easily track down and shut down the source of text messages from a given IP address. Also, the FCC can receive complaints for violation of either of these two marketing channels, so it is up to those engaging this behavior to adhere to the law and conform to the best practices of the industry so as to remain whitelisted with all ISPs.
I have discussed alternatives to buying your way into the e-marketing universe on my blog in June of 2010. List-shepherding, list-rental and utilizing locations where you can advertise a given action alert/ask for someone to sign up are perfectly acceptable methods because one is not purchasing e-mail addresses outright. It is up to the person who controls a given e-mail address to opt-in to receive messages from you.
With all of this being said, I hope this gives you a background into the complexities of this change on the backend of our site and how KeepAmericFishing will host its alerts, e-mail messages and donation forms in the future.
Essentially, we migrated from a small pond at salsalabs.wiredforchange.com to a larger one at keepamericafishing.salsalabs.com.
As an added bonus, we also got a domain cname change thrown in with the deal so that our brand is also incorportated into any actions, e-mails and donation forms we will host from this new IP address.
Even though the last couple of weeks have been a challenge, this adds significant experience to my résumé as my second e-marketing platform migration. The first was with United Cerebral Palsy while migrating to Convio from GetActive Software due to Convio’s acuisition of the latter platform.
All-in-all, I’m ready to build this list to expose the world to KeepAmericaFishing in many new and interesting ways.
If you haven’t been there already, please stop by and take a look. Let me know what you think of the site. Is there anything you would change, improve, fix?
As always, thanks for reading.