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Spam-Check Your Newsletter

It takes a lot of time and effort to build up your newsletter mailing list. After all the work you put into getting emails from potential readers it would suck to find out that your emailed newsletter gets no “opened” statistics because the email never made it to their inbox.

Thankfully, there’s a free tool to check if your emails will trigger a spam-blocking program running on their incoming email server. Because the vast majority of your readers will be using someone else’s server infrastructure to receive your newsletter, you’ll find that most of them don’t have much say as to what can trigger the email black hole. You don’t want your emails to skirt its event horizon, let alone fall into the pit of no return. Tech-savvy folks can fine tune their spam filters if they have access or if they run their own email server.

The free tool to check your newsletter is located at Is Not Spam (http://isnotspam.com/). It’s a simple check that you can use to test every newsletter before you send it out to the masses. The process is easy. When you go to the website you’ll see a generated email address. Send your newsletter to that address, wait about five minutes, and then return and click on the “report” button to see the results.

The system checks a lot of front-end technical issues like:

  • SPF Check: The Sender Policy Framework Check looks up your domain and verifies what servers are authorized to send emails. This prevents junk emails from getting sent from incorrectly configured email servers that allow open relays.
  • Sender-ID Check: This check verifies who actually sent the email.
  • DomainKeys Check: Originally developed by Yahoo due to the popularity of spamming through the use of their domain, DomainKeys is a method to check email servers and was used with SPF Checks. This is now deprecated but some servers may still be using it. This was replaced with:
  • DKIM Check: DomainKeys Identified Mail combines the above DomainKeys system with Cisco’s IIM (Identified Internet Mail) protocol. This makes sure the server that is sending the email can be verified as an approved sender using cryptographic keys.
  • SpamAssassin Check: An open-source application or program that analyzes the email headers plus the actual content. The email is assigned a score and the receiving server decides whether to allow it to pass through or not. The passing score is adjustable. If it is very restrictive your email may not make it through.

OK, enough of the technicalities. The report will show you how your newsletter would fare on a typical email server. Try avoiding common spam words like “Viagra” or including a paragraph about how your reader has just inherited six million dollars from their previously-unknown Uncle Isaac stationed in Nigeria.

If you’re using professional newsletter systems like MailPoet or MailChimp, the technical portions should pass with flying colors. If you’re doing your own thing with an email server, this check will point out any problems with your infrastructure.

 

Guy Anthony De Marco

Guy Anthony De Marco, MFA, is an Italian-American speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker® and Scribe Award finalist; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; a poet; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer; a disabled US Navy veteran, and a coffee addict. One of these is false. A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, IAMTW, ITW, RWA-PRO, WWA, SFPA, ASCAP, MWG, SWG, HWA, IBPA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia.

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