A list you don't want to be on.

E-mail blacklists, like the kind run by Spamhaus, are a godsend for consumers but can be a nightmare for businesses. That’s because even innocent mistakes, like typos in an e-mail address, can land them on the list and getting off a blacklist is easier said than done.

Landing on a blacklist wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so darned influential. Many businesses have had e-mail campaigns tanked entirely after getting hit by a blacklist.
Some sources even suggest that getting included on a blacklist can result in as much as 60% of business’ e-mail being rendered undeliverable.

Blogger Heather Goff addressed this subject in a recent posting on responsys.com titled, Email Marketing: 3 Tips for Steering Clear of the Blacklists. Her approach, as the title indicates, is all about avoiding trouble before it starts.

Here are her suggestions for avoiding a spot on a list that could seriously damage your business.

Keep an Eye Out for Inactive Subscribers

Blacklist operators employ large numbers of trap e-mails to catch spammers in action. These, “pristine,” e-mail addresses never sign up for anything and used solely as bait. When e-mail newsletters or offers arrive at a trap e-mail, the sender’s IP address is added to the blacklist.

To stay ahead of these traps, Goff suggests regularly culling your e-mail database for  inactive subscribers. This not only helps you keep a clean database, it also keeps you a step ahead of the blacklist.

Because blacklisting IP addresses is the main weapon in the Spamhaus arsenal, you might want to cull your email list at least once a month, if not more.

Look Within

If your e-mail lists are generating lots of bouncebacks, there’s a very good chance that typos and other human-generated errors are putting you on a collision course with the blacklist. Goff recommends doing an internal audit of your e-mail collection sources to help pinpoint vulnerabilities.

In the retail world, the point-of-purchase is frequently the culprit behind typos and other errors, though it’s hardly the only source. Casino affiliates, for example, might find that self-reported e-mails from blog-based CTA’s yield very accurate address databases, while those harvested from trade shows aren’t as accurate.

No matter where the trouble stems from swift action should be taken to correct it.

Get Confirmation

Of course the best way of confirming any information is to get it directly from the horse’s mouth. Opt-in subscribers, the kind you really want anyways, have no problem clicking on a link to confirm that their information has been properly recorded.

You can sweeten the deal with a special offer, bonus or e-book, to get full buy in. It’s an extra step but, when compared with life on the black list, it’s really not that big a deal at all.


Maintaining your e-mail database is something you should be doing whether black lists are an issue or not. Targeted e-mails that go out to clean lists create fewer administrative headaches and keep you on the right side of the blacklist IP checker.



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