Email Marketing – Warning Signs You Have Outgrown Your SMTP Server

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Email marketing continues to grow as a great alternative for not only marketing advertisements and product offers to your customers, but also as way to continue a dialog with your customers that keeps them engaged and coming back to your websites. This combination of offers, ads, and newsletters begins to increase your monthly email volume. It is at this point that you begin to experience some of the challenges of sending bulk email out into the Internet, especially to email addresses that belong to the large ISPs like Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL. You begin to realize that the infrastructure you have in place may now be inadequate to handle the level of email you are sending. Your email is getting stuck in queues for hours, or some email stops getting delivered altogether to your Hotmail addresses. If this is happening, you may need to consider an upgrade to a new level of commercially available email software.

One of the main pieces of an email marketing system is the SMTP server. Why is this server so important? Your SMTP server or MTA (mail transfer agent) is the sending engine of your bulk email system. This server receives generated email from your email marketing application, determines what email domains to deliver it to, and provides the transport and delivery of those messages to the various email domains on your list. Without the SMTP server, your email doesn’t make it out of your site Email1and1. Picture a pile of un-delivered envelopes that just sit on your desk because there is no post office to sort and delivery them to their destination. In the early days of email marketing when volumes were much lower, many people turned to either their internal email servers like Exchange, or they used freely available SMTP servers like Sendmail, Postfix, or Microsoft IIS SMTP server.

But as the use of email for marketing purposes went up and volumes increased, two things began to happen. One was that using in-house email systems built for personal email communications began to break down because they were not built to handle large volumes of bulk email. Second, was that freely available SMTP servers were not able to adequately address the delivery challenges of sending bulk email to the large consumer ISP domains. These challenges include processing email bounces, throttling email to specific domains and the support for email authentication standards like DomainKeys, DKIM, SenderID and SPF.

o Narrow Your Audience. Email marketing has the advantage of directly targeting specific physician audiences with no unwanted contacts included. You can target physicians very narrowly-by specialty, practice size, hospital affiliation, patient volume, geography or gender. For example, if you only want to market to physician offices with a daily patient volume of 20 or less, you can select and purchase that specific audience.

o Name Quality. The quality of the actual email addresses must also be considered. Are they business-domain emails with doctor’s names like jsmith at docoffice dot com or generic emails like info at docoffice dot com? Reaching an actual practitioner is ideal so general mailbox addresses won’t be as effective or valuable as those with names. Non-business-domain emails, such as Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail addresses, are also available. Depending on your service, you may or may not consider using these addresses. They are generally ineffective.

o List Licensing. You should also organize your email campaign to determine what level of usage you will need. Data-provider companies simply do not hand over their physician databases. You must select from options like one-time use, a specific licensing timeframe or unlimited use. This means that you can select what types of physician contacts you want to reach and how many times you’d like to do so. Usually, you will never be allowed to see on the contacts you’re purchasing. You find out how many email addresses exist in the database you want, and you “buy,” or more accurately, “rent,” them. Once you provide the creative and deployment specifications, your data provider will usually have a third-party service broadcast and track your campaign.

o Pricing. You’ll need to determine the scope of your audience by choosing a quantity of physician email addresses. Most often, they are purchased by the thousand or per “M.” A list rental will usually cost from $400 to $500 per thousand. If the rental does not include deployment, set up, test runs, transmission and a summary of results, there will be an extra fee. If you’re planning to deploy multiple emails, it may be wise to purchase a two- or three-time deployment rental. These run approximately $1,000 per thousand and will save you money. Order minimums are typically in the low thousands. Extra options like image hosting, personalization and URL tracking will price between $50 and $150 in most cases. File suppression, HTML design analyses and HTML spam analyses can be pricier, but are valuable services and can be added on to most orders. Most providers only sell business domains with names, so if you do come across any non-business domains, they are likely to cost less. Many providers will guarantee their lists or will only have you pay for delivered emails.

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