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Having worked in IT security for many years, and in the anti-spam sector for a many of those it never ceases to amaze me how companies (people), especially smaller firms abuse their business email accounts by using them to send marketing email and systems notifications.  Even worse, leave themselves open to the internet for direct receipt of email, that's a bit like painting a target on your mail server. Outbound email You're probably wondering what I'm talking about, that's what email is for isn't it?  

Well to be frank, no it isn't.  If you're using email for general business communications then you are fine, if however you're using it for mail blasts and systems emails (payment, booking notifications etc) then you risk landing on black lists and not only will your marketing email not get through but your business email will start to get blocked as well. You see when you send email the recipients systems may well ask for your email to be routed via spam filters and other security systems and if one of these systems thinks you've been behaving badly then your reputation as a sender will suffer. In fact your real world reputation and pocket will suffer if you get pinged for spamming. 

Your domain name and possibly IP address (Internet Protocol, the machine readable address used to route your email across the internet) could be listed on as many as a dozen or more black or block lists.  That's not good. So how should you send bulk email?  The now well established method is to use one of the many web based services to send your marketing email, something like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, we prefer the latter.  These services enhance the process of email marketing in several ways;

  1. They help you manage your subscriber lists and stay with local anti-spam legislation
  2.  Offer easy ways to create web based subscription forms
  3. Track your mail blasts so you can see who opens and forwards your marketing email
  4. Most importantly they work hard to keep their own online reputation in tact to ensure your email gets to recipients in high numbers and in a timely manner.

The above is also true when setting up business systems to send email triggered by processes such as event registration and payment systems. You should use a specialist email sender to route the email for you.  Examples of these are SendGrid and Postmark, we use the former.  These systems are designed to effectively route large quantities of bulk email and charge just fractions of pence per email. Inbound email We've all received lots of spam and probably the odd virus or trojan by email.  In fact there's also a whole industry around inbound email, not just outbound email.  

This started out as simple spam and virus filtering but has now grown to include email archiving, business continuity (an emergency webmail service) and various other offers to tempt you into routing your inbound email via a service provider. If your business runs it's own email server it's good practice to sign up to one of these managed email service provider so that they sit between you and the internet of (bad) things.  

Once signed up your IT person can lock down the server so it only accepts email from this trusted provider thereby ensuring none of the bad stuff gets to you and your email is safely archived in the cloud. Summary What does this all mean?  I suppose we can sum it up in a few bullet points;

  1. Business email to customers won't get blocked
  2. a much larger percentage of marketing mail shots get through
  3. alerts and notifications arrive at the recipients mailbox reliably
  4. your inbox is protected and your business email archived.

For more information about selecting providers that fit your business or for assistance setting these up contact us and we'll be glad to help or refer you to one of our many business partners. Note: There is a presentation to go with this post. Download it here and feel free to use this article and the presentation for your own business or customers.

Published: June 11th 2014 at 3:41pm

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