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I want to be able to send our customers email and/or SMS reminders when their billing dates are coming up. A couple issues:

1) How do you send SMS? Do I need to register for a SMS number or some service?

2) I don't want our company's domain to ever be marked for spam, and I fear if I send these notifications through our company's domain it may happen.

  • Is there a way I can setup a mail server using the same domain (or subdomain) that will not be marked as spam?

  • or is there a third party email and SMS provider that I can send messages through?

I know there are a lot of different marketing related email providers, but I don't know if it matters that these are more customer service related messages.

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4 Answers 4

You can adopt some of the best practices and make your Email look less SPAMmy. To check your server against some of the best practices, try the Online test at http://www.allaboutspam.com/email-server-test

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a couple of things:

  1. domains aren't blacklisted, ip addresses are blacklisted. individual recipients and spam filtering products\gateways may mark the sender or the senders domain as spam, but that only affects that particular recipient and has no bearing on any other recipient.

  2. there's a difference between unsolicited commercial email and sending billing statements via email to your customers. many companies utilize email to communicate with their customers with little or no problem. microsoft sends millions of emails every day, likely with very few problems regarding being marked as spam. you might block their email to you but it has no bearing on their email to me.

  3. there's nothing you can do to guarantee that your mail server or your email will never be blacklisted or caught by someone's spam filter.

  4. from a technical perspective, any and every email you send could get your mail server blacklisted. if every company had to worry about every single email they sent for fear of being blacklisted or filtered, no-one would ever use email ever again.

  5. how many customers do you have? a couple hundred emails a month going to a couple hundred different email addresses doesn't constitute mass emailing imho.

  6. make sure to give your customers a way to opt out of these emails and respect their request if they do opt out.

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1  
Just a comment on number 1: I think some products will cull an individual recipient's junk folder and then report that back to "the mothership" for possible inclusions on a spam list. I think Barracuda's stuff works like this. Whatever end users drag into a spam folder gets eaten by the Barracuda appliance and in turn reported back to 'cuda's HQ for processing and possible blacklisting actions which will then filter down to other users of Barracuda's appliances. I think. Maybe. =) –  Wesley Nov 25 '09 at 17:37
    
That could be true. I must say that I don't personally agree with the idea of "community rated" antispam products. As they say "One man's treasure..." –  joeqwerty Nov 25 '09 at 17:47

Most spam filters use a learning algorithm. So your domain will be filtered as spam if your other customers are marking them as spam. So if you don't annoy your cusomters with your emails then there won't be a problem.

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In spite of your emails not being a marketing tool, I would still recommend that you look into a service like Constant Contact or iContact that will manage your list of recipients and keep track of the opt-in/opt-out process.

Concerning the SMS portion of your question, a quick Google search reveals that indeed there are a number of services out there that will handle sending mass SMS messages to a customer base: http://www.google.com/search?q=sending+mass+sms+alerts

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