Is Your Email Newsletter List Blocked and You Don't Know It?
By Christopher Knight
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You can't bury your head in the sand on this one. You MUST know and be vigilant as to whether or not your email list server is blocked. Your emails can be blocked through absolutely no fault of your own and if your email list hosting service provider is not on the ball, you could lose out big time - and I'm not even talking about the lost emails that are not getting sent to your list.
Let me tell you a true story about the CBL (Composite Block List) that almost resulted in 1,107 of my members disappearing from one of my lists:
Last Friday, my email list server got added to the CBL (like a RBL (realtime black list)) and every ISP that subscribes to the CBL blocklist was blocking my mailings. How it got added can never be found out as they don't retain any evidence. It just did.
How I noticed it?
I review the email delivery reports on every mailing right before I send another mailing. It's part of my ezine publishing ritual. I noticed that 9,174 emails were on one of my newsletter lists, but only 7,492 were sent and 1,107 were identified as HARD BOUNCE. As far as my list server was concerned, it could not tell that the CBL was unfairly blocking these 1,107 members and that these were 1,107 legitimate dead members who should be purged off my list according to my bounce settings.
I quickly suspected that we landed on a blocklist. Even when you do EVERYTHING right, including being 100% confirm opt-in, respecting privacy and permission of your members, etc. - you can still be blocked through no fault of your own thanks to a variety of viruses, spoofed emails and more voodoo that threatens your email deliverability.
Here is how I solved the problem:
1) I did a Google for RBL. It returned this one as #1: http://rbls.org/
2) I had to find the IP address of my dedicated list server. I knew my list server name, but didn't know the IP address. In Windows XP, I clicked on START, RUN, typed "CMD" and hit enter to got a DOS prompt (just like the good old days ;-).
3) I entered: nslookup listmanager.sparknet.net (my list server's hostname) and hit enter.
4) It returned: Address: 188.8.131.52
5) I entered that IP address in the RBLS.org site I found above.
6) It returned that my email list servers IP address was listed in the http://cbl.abuseat.org blocklist.
7) I went to the CBL to confirm the block via this form: http://cbl.abuseat.org/lookup.cgi
8) Upon the CBL confirming my email list server was on their list, they also gave me a form to request my IP address be delisted. Within an hour it was removed from the blocklist.
9) Today's mailing for Ezine-Tips will be reaching my entire list membership.
If I would not have noticed this and didn't take any action, my list server would have purged thousands of members off my lists as being hard bounce undeliverable…when in fact, they bounced only because of the CBL that we got added on.
I consulted an anti-spam authority friend who told me that the CBL is actually one of the better RBL's on the market, even though they don't keep any evidence as to why list servers get added to their blocklist.
CBL and RBL Hard Bounce Bottom line:
You must be vigilant and watch your hard undeliverables per mailing so that you can identify if something is suspect. In Ezine-Tips, my normal hard bounces are 92-280 per mailing. Last weeks mailing had 1,352 hard bounces. That was a sign that something was wrong and needed immediate investigation. How's your hard bounces lately?
This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur.
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Ezine-Tips for November 09, 2005
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