After our post earlier today on blacklisting, we thought it would be important to follow up with a second post on deliverability best practices for law firm email newsletters and alerts. Basically, while the risk of blacklisting cannot be eliminated entirely, you can minimize the risk substantially, and maximize the deliverability of your email campaigns by following these best practices:
#1: Custom domain: We'll say it again until we're blue in the face - register a separate domain name for your email marketing campaigns through a registrar like GoDaddy.com. This way if that domain gets inadvertently blacklisted with an important DNSBL (through a scenario like described above with Joe), you can simply switch to a new custom domain for email marketing, and your firm's day-to-day email will not be affected.
#2: Private IP: Use an email service provider who will assign you a private IP address that uniquely identifies your firm's emails (this way you don't have to share an IP address with other companies like Joe's Pizza, Bob's Motel, or Peoria Chevrolet blasting out discounts to their customers; this can easily happen when using a cheap "blast" service that caters to small, mom-and-pop businesses - some of whom could conceivably be real spammers attracted to the low prices).
Having a private IP address will also make it much easier to negotiate a "whitelisting" arrangement with a client that is blocking your emails since you can reassure them that allowing emails with the relevant IP address to sail through won't open the floodgates to emails from other third parties.
#3: Reverse DNS: Use an email service provider who will customize your email headers so that the domain name in the "From" field and headers of your emails match the domain name associated with your unique IP address. This match is also known as passing a "reverse DNS lookup."
#5: Deliverability Team: Use an email service provider with a team of deliverability specialists who monitor the mail servers sending your email and can check your logs for any unusual trends or activity that could indicate blocking, and will help you formulate a plan to respond to any deliverability issues spotted.
#6: Email Reputation Test: Use an email service provider who can periodically run a Pivotal Veracity test on your email reputation that will turn up any blacklisting issues you didn't know about beforehand.
#7: CAN-SPAM Compliance: Use an email service provider whose distribution and list management processes comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and industry best practices.
#8: Practice Good List Hygiene. This means creating distribution lists comprised only of subscribers with whom the firm has an existing business relationship (e.g., clients or referral sources) who will recognize the firm's name when they see it in the "From" line
This contrasts with our hypothetical above where Joe only met Bob once at a conference. When somebody gives one of your attorneys a business card at a conference, while they're implying that it is okay for the attorney to email them directly in the future, they're not asking to be signed up for one of the firm's email lists. In such scenarios, the correct practice is for the attorney (Bob) to follow up personally with the new contact (Joe) after the conference and ask the contact if he or she wants to be added to the law firm's email list covering topics of interest.
#9: Segmentation/Targeting: Segment your lists and target your emails so that subscribers only receive emails on topics they are interested in (e.g., don't send all the firm's clients an email about the latest IRS tax regulation on accelerated depreciation for new factories).
Sorry, no 10. But follow the above and you'll be in great shape.