Michael Weisel serves as Chief Technology Officer and is the architect of Gold Lasso’s systems and product development. He is responsible for all technology related decisions and specializes in email delivery and systems management.

Message, List, and Campaign Archiving now Available in Gold Lasso's eLoop

Message, List, and Campaign Archiving now Available in Gold Lasso's eLoop

 

January 27, 2009

   
Dear Valued Clients,
 
At Gold Lasso, growing anticipation about the eLoop 5.0 launch has our team working even harder. In a few months, we’ll be rolling out an exciting new version of eLoop with added and improved features to make your job easier.
 

 
 

With a focus on helping marketers work more efficiently, we are diligently developing the right tools and functionality to create the smartest ESP software out there. But even though 5.0 is just around the corner, we continue to introduce some of these new features in our current product. Our latest addition will make our organized users do cartwheels down the hall (we witnessed this phenomenon yesterday in our office from our Client Service reps when we told them the feature was going live). The Archiving feature will be available to all users Thursday January 28th.
Message, List, and Campaign Archiving 
This feature gives you the ability to query Messages, Lists, and Campaigns (based on time) and choose which ones to archive. The easy-to-use tool employs a simple list/checkbox format. This is a great way to “tidy up” your eLoop account and improve efficiency by being more organized.

We have also added the ability to archive from the individual sections by highlighting what you want to archive and clicking the archive icon.
Along with the ability to archive comes the ability to un-archive as well. This will work exactly the same way as its Archive counterpart.

Reporting will not be affected regardless if you choose to archive or un-archive lists, campaigns or messages. The archive feature’s purpose is simply to help users see information that is recent and relevant, and does not delete or erase any data from eLoop accounts. We have also added error handling validation messages which displays a prompt whenever attempting to schedule a campaign with previously-archived lists or messages.
The Archive feature can be found under the "Data Management" section of eLoop.
 
   
  GL Jive Forums
If you haven’t done so already, please login to GLJive, our Client Community for tons of valuable information. Especially take a look at the eLoop Forums where you can connect with other eLoop users and Gold Lasso staff on a variety of different topics. The participation rate is rising daily so chances are if you are looking for an answer or have a request about how to accomplish something, someone will be able to help you out. My hat goes off to Ashley Spitzer with ConventionPlanit, Damien Cabral with Moonworks Home Improvement and Jacqueline Dilberian and Celia Geraldo with One West Bank for being such great contributors. If you are having any difficulty logging in, please contact our Customer Service Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Big News Next Week! Be on the lookout for a big announcement from Gold Lasso! Be one of the first to hear our announcements and industry news by following me on twitter.  And please continue to send us your feedback. Just go to GLJive and visit the “Share” section, “Ideas & Feedback.” Your suggestions continue to allow our product to evolve.
If you have any questions regarding new features or GLJive, please contact our Customer Service Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

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Warm regards,


Michael E. Weisel
Co-founder, CTO
 

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Yahoo Mail Servers Experiencing MTA Connectivity Issues Today 01/26/2010

This was posted today...

tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ymailadmin/message/17

If you're seeing some queuing in your outbounds today when sending to Y! users, we're currently experiencing low connectivity across our MTAs, which started this morning. We're working to get things back to normal.  The SMTP error message being generated by the issue should be:  "420 Resources unavailable temporarily. Please try later hostname>" Our apologies for the inconvenience.

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Spam Assassin Bug

Originally Posted on January 5, 2010

If you are a frequent user of the “Check for  Spam” button within the editor, you may have seen a new flag causing your SPAM score to go up drastically. The test name is called “FH_DATE_PAST_20XX” (wiki.apache.org/spamassassin/Rules/FH_DATE_PAST_20XX) and comes with a 3.4 point SPAM score. The details for the test states “The date is grossly in the future.” This high score is due to a bug in the SpamAssassin tool that we use to score messages.

Although we have fixed the bug on our side, the bigger picture shows that SpamAssassin is the most powerful Open Source filtering application and is widely used throughout the world. This means that as of January 1st, 2010, any mail servers that have not been updated may score your legit messages as SPAM upon receiving it.

If you have any questions regarding this bug, please contact your Gold Lasso This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Cox Communications – Blocking URL’s Within Message Body??

I was helping a client troubleshoot a deliverability issue with Cox Communication the other day and found something very odd.  The issue was that all messages being sent to @cox.net recipients was never reaching the inbox.  The messages were not being bounced back so there was no bounce error to reference back to and of course without that Tech Support is less opt to help troubleshoot.  The messages do not appear to be blocked for domain or IP reasons, and it doesn’t seem to be content related, but it does appear to have something to do with the message itself.  Here is the scenario and what we tried with the results:

* Simple text message no links – delivered to @cox.net mailbox

* Simple text message with a hyperlinked word (i.e. Click here) – delivered to @cox.net mailbox

* Simple text message with a hyperlink written out in the message body (i.e. http://www.mydomain.com/link.php) – not delivered to @cox.net mailbox

* Simple message with average size image and no links – delivered to @cox.net mailbox

* Simple message with average size image with a hyperlinked word (i.e. Click here) – delivered to @cox.net mailbox

* Simple message with average size image with a hyperlink written out in the message body (i.e. http://www.mydomain.com/link.php) – not delivered to @cox.net mailbox

**NOTE** – We used the same url for the hyperlink throughout all of our testing.

Once we removed the hyperlink from within the message body and replaced it with hyperlinked text, all messages from the client’s IP/domain were delivered.  Has anyone else had or seen this issue before?  This is the first time that I have seen this technique by anyone to block messages.  This technique of blocking would make it difficult for anyone trying to pass a hyperlinked url in their message for a copy and paste reason or for text messages.

I have fired off an email to the postmaster at Cox and will post back the response one I receive it.  If you have any experience with this, please let me know by commenting back or by sending me a message (mweisel at goldlasso dot com).

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Q&A: Feedback Loops and Spam Filters

We recently hosted a Q&A webinar to give our clients more information about feedback loops and spam filters — two major factors that determine the deliverability of your email campaigns. In case you missed it, here are the most common answers to your feedback and spam questions.

What is a feedback loop?
According to Wikipedia, a feedback loop is “the casual path that leads from the initial generation of the feedback signal to the subsequent modification of the event.” OK, but what does that really mean, especially in terms of email?

  1. Let’s trace the flow of feedback for an email. Let’s say…
  2. You send an email to Michael at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., inviting him to complete a survey in order to receive a free iPhone.
  3. Michael’s having a really bad day. He’s cranky. Plus, he already has an iPhone. So he clicks on that oh-so-powerful button “MARK AS spam,” rather than scrolling down to the bottom of the message to simply opt-out. This marks the initial generation of the feedback.
  4. That feedback is then sent to Yahoo as a complaint, which gets marked against your reputation.  Because you are signed up with Gold Lasso to receive these complaints, a message is then sent back to us, parsed and placed in to your account.
  5. Now for the “closing the loop” part. If nothing is done — that is, you don’t check the feedback loop — technically speaking the process has not been completed. Therefore, it’s important to finish the loop by responding back to Yahoo with the proper information to back up the fact that the recipient opted in, and to mark the user as opt-out in eLoop ASAP.


Why should I use feedback loops?
The better question is why shouldn’t you? It’s really a no brainer. Without this mechanism in your email marketing plan, it leaves you wide open to poor deliverability and ultimately a notch on your reputation.  

How should I use feedback loops?
You should use them as a means for opting out people who have complained, which ultimately will help improve your deliverability and reputation.

Where can I find them in eLoop?
The feedback loops (FPLs) are under the Reporting module, under Deliverability.

How often should I check them?
Every day, ideally. If you’re sending daily campaigns then you should be checking it every day before you send out your campaigns. You should definitely check them before every campaign goes out to limit the possibility of sending to someone who complained about your last campaign.

What should I do if I get a complaint?

There are three possibilities:

  1. First, you can do nothing. Obviously, we don’t recommend this, but it seems to be the most popular of the three choices.
  2. You can use your opt-in information and good personality to respond back to the ISP and, with the proper fodder, hopefully have the complaint rescinded.
  3. Lastly, you can simply mark the individual as opt-out in eLoop.
  4. The best solution is a combination of option 2 and 3. We always hope that the client has the proper opt-in information to back up any complaint, but we know that’s not always the case. At the very least you should be marking the users as opt-out ASAP.

Why is there a $200 setup fee for only the Yahoo Feedback Loop?
The short answer is that Yahoo made the signup process more difficult and lengthy than the others.
Most feedback loops allow us to send a bulk list of IP addresses through a basic online form. Yahoo, however, has a more detailed procedure that takes one of our staff members time to complete for each individual domain name. We’ll continue to offer new feedback loops that we can bulk submit free of charge to our clients as they become available.

Spam Filtering

What is a spam filter?
A spam filter is mechanism (it could be software, hardware or a combination of both) used to determine if a message is “clean” or not, and allows or blocks messages based on these rules before it hits your inbox.  

How do these filters work?
The process works by assigning a score to an incoming message. That score determines if the message is clean or spam. Companies have invested hours and hours into monitoring messages and coming up with algorithms to determine what is and what is not spam.  Some spam filters are simple, like the Junk Mail feature in Outlook which filters mail as it comes to your inbox. This is usually managed by the individual who can white list, block, release, and monitor the messages that have been filtered right from their PC or MAC. There are also server-level filters like Symantec’s BrightMail, which filters the mail at the server level before sending it to the recipient’s inbox. This process usually involves the IT staff in some fashion and is a little bit tougher to manage from the recipient level. Also, this process leaves the recipient at the mercy of the IT staff, who can make a change to the sensitivity of the filter that might affect deliverability to the recipient’s inbox. In this case, if the recipient has trouble receiving your message they may either never know or have to go through a lengthy process to have the IT staff resolve the issue. And that will probably damage your deliverability.  There are also outsourced solutions like POSTINI, which filter messages before they even reach your corporate mail server.

How are spam filters used/implemented?
There are various ways to use a spam filter, although most of the process is pretty automatic. The process is based on preset (and constantly managed, monitored and tweaked) settings either at the client, server or outsourced level. These presets determine whether a message is spam or not.  As noted previously, the implementation can be done on three levels, outsourced, server/appliance or at the client level. All of these need some kind of monitoring and tweaking to be successful.

How can it affect my email deliverability?
If there are enough complaints or your messages meet the criteria of being spam, then ultimately the filters can mark you as a “spammer” and cease to deliver your messages. The big problem with this, of course, is that your marketing success will suffer. If your messages are being caught in the filters (which in most cases you aren’t going to know unless your recipients are calling you and telling you that they aren’t receiving your weekly newsletter anymore) then they are not reaching the recipient’s inbox. And if your recipients aren’t getting your message, they probably aren’t interacting with you. Meanwhile your deliverability looks fine on the reporting side because they aren’t bouncing back. We offer enhanced message testing through Pivotal Veracity, which can help determine or troubleshoot any problems with deliverability. This is available in your eLoop account under Outbound Messaging. What is the delivery process of an email from eLoop to the recipient’s inbox?

Once the campaign has been executed from eLoop:

  1. The message is compiled on our end between our database and web servers. This process consists of modifying the links to be trackable, inserting Dynamic Content, compiling the list, comparing statuses, etc.
  2. The messages are then sent immediately to one of our mail servers to be delivered.
  3. The mail server will immediately try to send the message to the recipient’s mail server by looking up the appropriate records.
  4. If the mail server is up and accepting messages, then the message will be delivered and the process ends.
  5. If the mail server is not up and not accepting the message (for one reason or another) then the message will be sent back to our server to try again later. At this point our mail server has to determine what kind of bounce this is, and that will determine the next action. If the message is a hard bounce then the message process ends and the message is bounced back to the client’s eLoop mailbox, parsed and applied as a bounce in the eLoop system. If the message is a soft bounce, then based on settings of our servers the message will be retried x amount of times before determining if the message can be delivered or bounced back. Keep in mind: Just because the message has been delivered to the recipient’s mail server does not mean that the message has reached your recipient’s inbox. According to our mail server the message was accepted by the recipient’s mail server, which does constitute as a “delivered” message. This is where the filters come in to play.

Also note: Be sure to check your bounce reasons. This can give you a good indication why messages are being bounced back along with an action to apply to help with future deliverability. We can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor this information using the tools that we provide and test.

What does it mean to be blacklisted? What does it mean to be flagged or labeled as spam?

These two questions have a lot of synergy. Being blocked for spam is also considered being blacklisted, but it’s usually at the ISP level and then filtered down to the recipients depending on the ISP. For example, MSN or Road Runner (both of which you can check under Feedback Loops in eLoop) may block you from sending to their recipients based on a high level of suspicious mail coming from your IP address.

First, a little bit of backgrounds on blacklists. The term “blacklisting” refers to someone being prevented from access to something based on the judgments of others. In the case of email, it refers to your IP or Domain being blocked by one of the many blacklists being utilized on the Internet. This could be a permanent block or a temporary block depending on the severity of the infraction and or the frequency of the infraction. The eLoop Blacklist Check located on the main login screen uses many of the most well known blacklists to determine if your IP is blocked or not. Some companies have independent internal blacklists that they manage and monitor themselves. Other organizations subscribe to one of the many blacklists that are run by various organizations on the Internet. Some of these organizations are friendly and understand how to work with you. But others have a zero-tolerance policy for spam and are EXTREMELY difficult to deal with.  

As we have stated before with feedback loops it is so important to retain any and all opt-in information. This is vital to being removed from blacklists.  

What can I do to better manage my deliverability and sender reputation?

  1. Create an abuse@ sender profile in eLoop. Here’s how:  Under Account Settings/Reply Profile Settings, you can add a new email address. Simply     create a new profile for This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The abuse@ email address is the default for spam complaints. Once you create this profile, please be sure to check it often. To check this account, login to Horde using the Webmail tab under Outbound Messaging, use your abuse@emailaddress and the password you chose when creating the profile.
  2. At the top of your emails, request that the recipient add the “from” email address to their safe sender list. For example: Please add “This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.” to your address book or safe senders list to ensure our messages are delivered to your inbox.
  3. Keep clear and accessible records for opt-in information.
  4. Place terms and conditions for your spam policy on your Web site. To see an example, visit http://www.goldlasso.com/index.php/anti-spam-policy. As an ESP, our spam policy is a bit different, but the gist of it is there. If you’d like assistance creating one, please contact your account manager.
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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!