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I am starting a business providing some online customer relationship management functionality. I want to allow my clients to create their own email lists. I also want to allow my clients to be able to initiate to send emails from my web application to the customers in their email lists.

Theoretically, all my clients should have only "opt-in" customers in their lists (this will also be part of my terms and conditions with using my service). However, there is no way of policing this. One way I thought of was to make it compulsory to send each contact an email and asking them to "opt-in", but my client is not happy with this because in their case their customers have already opted-in.

Currently, I am running on shared hosting which is allowing my application to send emails, but now it could be happening on a larger scale and I am fearful of my domain being black listed.

The main tips I have seen in other responses including:

  1. use the "Sender" and "Return-Path" properties in the email which I will do.
  2. provide an "Unsubscribe" link.

I looked at using the AuthSMTP to separate my server from the sending of the emails, but I am not sure if this is of benefit (unless my host has an email limit).

Any advice would be appreciated.

Regards,

Phil

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Closed Loop Confirmed Opt In is the only way to handle subscriptions. This should be an up front requirement to your customers. If you get a complaint, demand proof of the confirmation. If they can't provide it, then you have a situation to deal with. In that case, unless it was an isolated incident, you're probably already blacklisted.

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So, I didn't think of the idea first ; ). I like the hybrid solution..."Prove your subscribers opted-in otherwise default to closed loop confirmation. (marked your answer up one). However, this does add burden to my clients which I would like to avoid if possible. I will accept the answer if there are no better suggestions. –  ptutt Sep 4 '10 at 4:37
    
+1 for link to excellent piece on Spamhaus –  dunxd Sep 27 '10 at 11:01

Take a look at this guide from the guys at MailChimp. I found it really useful. Its a difficult process to get right and sometimes it's just easier to let a third party deal with the sending. Take a look at MailChimp, SendGrid, PostMark and CampaignMonitor (this allows rebranding).

Also if you can do an opt-in at the very least for new customers is worth doing (just to make sure they're happy with the messages), you might be saving a tiny bit of pain but if you don't give them the option many of those customers will just block you anyway. Unsubscribe links should be mandatory too.

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Thanks for the link. I did quite a bit of research on MailChimp, but I found that most of the functions I want I will need to develop myself anyway (to provide the level of customisation required). I might send them an email and see what solutions they could offer because it's very close to what I need. –  ptutt Sep 8 '10 at 11:52

I can't believe no one mentioned SPF records.

It is absolutely essential to know the SPF record for any domain you are sending for. A well written SPF entry will result in mail from non registered servers getting blocked by some large mail providers. If your server isn't in there, then your mail may well not get through.

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I did my research and found other references to SPF records, but I don't understand it well enough to implement a solution. Could you point me to good resources? You could be of great help if you could answer my question at serverfault.com/questions/183558/… –  ptutt Sep 27 '10 at 11:10
    
@ptutt - done. Hope that helps. –  dunxd Sep 27 '10 at 11:35

Take this Email Server Test. It will give you some technical stuff that you can implement to avoid being classified as a SPAmmer.

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