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What to Do When Your Customers Have Been Blacklisted By Google

August 12, 2015 — by Andreas0


Being blacklisted by Google is not a rare occurrence – recently, the company blacklisted over 11,000 websites during the outbreak of SoakSoak malware, which attacked WordPress sites using a popular plugin. Whether it’s hack attacks, malware problems, or other security issues, Google is quick to shut down any potential problems with its blacklist.

This can pose many problems for hosting providers! Customers may not always understand how or why they have been blacklisted by Google, even though it regularly does this to hundreds of sites every day. Your customers may be quick to blame, and that blame could fall on you. It is probably not your fault that the customer’s site has been blacklisted, but your customer will be looking to you for solutions. To provide good service, and be as helpful as possible, you should work to assist your customer in dealing with a Google blacklist problem.

The best thing you can do is get started rehabilitating the site and getting it removed from the blacklist, as soon as possible. This could take hours, or weeks, depending on how bad the damage is. Google itself will work to remove the site from the blacklist once it meets the right conditions, but that process can take at least 10 hours, ranging up to a whole day. This equals lost revenue for your client, and ill will all around.

To find out if your customer is actually blacklisted by Google, it is important to do some diagnostics first. You can use Google’s Webmaster Tools to find out if the site is on the list, or take a look at the Abusive Hosts Blocking List which can give some information about why the site may have been blacklisted. MX Toolbox and can give out more information.

According to Google, once a site has been restored, services like Wget, cURL, or Fetch as Google will work to verify that the site is in good shape.

There are different ways to approach restoring the site based on this information. One of the quickest way to return things to normal is to restore from a clean back-up. A malware infection needs extra work, but if that isn’t the case for your client, a simple back-up restoration can do the trick. Make sure you offer back-up services as part of your hosting, so you can work to restore a site quickly for whatever reason is necessary.

There are a few options for back-ups. You can offer your clients a managed services approach, which puts the onus on you to have a plan. As a hosting provider you will offer protection against threats, damage mitigation, and account restoration. You will need to allocate your own resources, from hardware and software to security, to be successful with this approach, and it will come at a cost to your customer as a result. If you are working with large businesses who have room for managed services in their budget, this should not be a problem, as the ability to restore quickly and get off of the blacklist is certainly worth it to a company of this size!

Self-service back-ups are easier to handle for some customers, whether due to their budget, or their own robust IT skills and resources. You can assist your client with this by providing a cloud-based option so they can still have a back-up, but manage it on their own terms. This is a less expensive solution so it may prove to be quite popular with many clients, who will appreciate the lack of expense, the quick response time, and the level of control.

You may wish to offer additional support, available at an extra cost to clients who choose a self-serve option. This way, if they get in over their heads or simply need an extra hand, you can provide it without losing your own money and time.

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Best Practices for Sending Bulk Email

May 7, 2015 — by Andreas0


If you are sending bulk email to clients and customers it is wise to know the right way to send it, to avoid accusations of spam and other problems. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are sending bulk email, in order to do it properly and keep customers happy. For best results, use these tips to help manage your bulk email list, while getting help from expert professionals to truly customize your bulk email for your specific situation.

Avoid Generating Spam by Getting Permission

Bulk email is great for getting messages out to people with whom you want to interact, but unsolicited bulk email is actually spam. In most cases, your customers’ email client will remove email that is marked as spam before they even read it, meaning your message is lost – or, if someone actually receives that unsolicited email, you run the risk of angering them and losing their business.

Because of this, bulk email must be sent on an opt-in basis. That means the people on your email list must request to be on it, and have the ability to request removal.

Some companies think that email-appending, or e-pending, is an okay way of getting clients’ email addresses, but it is actually a bad idea. Using existing information to determine email addresses bypasses getting consent from the people to whom you are sending messages, so it is not an opt-in process.

You may also think that having a previous business relationship or other interaction with a client via email entitles your company to include that address on your bulk email list, but it may not be considered permission so it is a good idea to double check that your customer actually wants messages from you outside of your prior contact.

If you are sending emails to people who do not want them, you are breaking the first rule of proper bulk email list management, so before you go any further in expanding and optimizing your bulk email list, make sure that you have a good system in place to allow people to opt in and out of your messages.

Use Closed-Loop/Confirmed Opt-in To Ensure Your Emails Are Truly Wanted

Use closed-loop, or confirmed opt-in to your advantage to bypass all of these problems. Closed-loop opt-in means that when a customer requests to be added to your bulk email list, he or she gets a message asking for confirmation.

Without this confirmation the email address does not get added to your list, so you will be able to know with full confidence that the people getting your messages have specifically asked to be on the list, and confirmed that desire.

Why is this confirmation important? There are many ways email addresses can end up on your bulk email list without the owner actually wanting to be there. Whether it is a spoofed address, something someone forged, or just a mistaken typo, simply adding submitted email addresses to your database without confirmation leaves a lot of room for error. In the event that someone did accidentally misspell part of their email address, confirmation also lets the customer know that they made a mistake, as they will not receive the email they are expecting so they will know to try again.

Most professional mailing list management software has confirmed opt-in practices built in so it is not difficult to implement.

Something to beware of – sending unsolicited emails, with an opt-out process attached, is not the same thing as a proper confirmed opt-in process. Your customers should have the authority to decide if they want your messages in the first place, so anything unsolicited, even if it has an opt-out link, is still spam.

Be Trustworthy and Truthful

Everyone wants to work with companies they trust – take the trustworthiness away and suddenly you are a shady business with questionable ethics, which is not the kind of image most companies wish to portray.

Don’t try to hide your intentions with your customers, sneaking in things to which they may not normally agree. When someone signs up for your bulk email list, or even before they get to that point, clearly define the scope of your intended contact. Your bulk email policies should include information about the frequency of contact, the size of emails and attachments, topics you will cover, and all of the other factors that let your clients know what they can expect from you. Make sure that you stick to these promises, especially when it comes to frequency – if you email too much, people will feel irritated, but if you do not email enough they may forget that they had agreed to receive contact from you and feel upset.

Make it easy for clients to communicate with you, and follow through on any promises you make. Do not leave room for surprises! On a similar note, you make your identity very clear when you are sending bulk emails. Do not hide domains or other technical information through masking, and make sure everything is legitimately registered and understandable. This goes a long way toward humanizing your business to your clients, reducing the risk that they will consider your messages spam, and also shows email clients with automated spam rules that you are sending authentic, desired emails, making it less likely that your bulk emails will end up in the junk bin.

Part of being trustworthy and accessible is ensuring that your customers actually understand you. Try to avoid jargon and other technological language that only serves to confuse – it will make your customers wonder what, exactly, you are trying to hide. The more transparent you are, the better it is for business.

Manage Your List Well

Take responsibility for any problems with your bulk email list and handle customer requests, complaints, and other issues quickly. If people request to unsubscribe, do it right away, and make it easy for them to find a way to request removal. Do not rely on just one form of unsubscribing, as this can frustrate customers. Try offering a variety of methods, including web links, email responses, or even physical mail or a phone call. Even if you are losing an email contact it is a good idea to retain any goodwill you have with your customers by not making unsubscribing miserable.

Along with handling unsubscribe requests quickly, efficiently, and politely, keep the rest of your list clean and in order. If email addresses are abandoned and you are getting lots of bounced messages, remove the address from your database – sending unwanted messages that are simply going unread is a waste of time and resources, so do not bother.

Do not waste your money buying email address lists, as this is a sure-fire way to lose funds while angering a lot of people. Once again, make sure that the people on your list are actually supposed to be there, and make it simple for them to tell you if they have any problems with your messages going forward.

If you do receive complaints or abuse reports, follow up immediately and take concrete steps to make sure the problems will not repeat. This is the best way to maintain rapport with your clients and shows that you take their concerns seriously.

Keep Your Mail Server Working for You

Your mail server should understand when customers’ email clients are rejecting mail and give up at an appropriate time. If you are consistently running into 5xy and/or 4xy rejections, take these addresses s off of your bulk email list once it is clear that they should be removed. Sometimes in the case of 4xy rejections, you may simply need to pull your server back a bit so that you are not overwhelming the receiving server. Whatever you do, do not flood your customers’ servers with repeated attempts at sending a message as this will quickly land your company on the blacklist, effectively stamping out any communication you may have had up to that point.

Get Help When You Need It

As spam rules and regulations change and bulk emailing becomes a more complex business practice, fraught with potential missteps, it can all become too much for a business to handle. If you are confused, frustrated, or just want a bit of extra help, there is nothing wrong with talking to the experts.

Speaking with a delivery consultant can make a big difference in how you send and manage your bulk email. Outsourcing this process to an email service provider is a great way to ensure you are still communicating with clients without having to deal with the complexities on your own, leaving you with more time to deal with other business demands without getting lost in the nuances of email.

You can also look at CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business