DELIVERING TO AOL

If you send a large volume of email to AOL users, then you have no doubt experienced difficulties with having your messages misidentified as junk email, and then blocked as a consequence.

With so many of its members subjected to vast amounts of spam, it's inevitable that some "good" messages are going to be trapped by AOL's anti-spam tactics.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help minimize this inconvenience.

AOL provides an entire site dedicated to such delivery issues at: http://postmaster.aol.com and if you send much business email to AOL members then investing time at this site is definitely worth your time.

In addition, Carl Hutzler, Director of AntiSpam Operations offers these suggestions:

"If you intend to send "bulk mail", register with AOL to get on our whitelist and setup a complaint feedback loop so you can monitor anyone who complains."

By registering with AOL you have a better chance of having your messages delivered and AOL's feedback system will notify you anytime a member complains about one of your emails as being spam. This auto-notification of complaints is particularly useful as AOL members may very well forget about services to which they have subscribed, and also because family members who share an account may not be aware of other member's subscriptions.

By being notified of such complains, you can easily clean your email lists and/or reconfirm with the recipient of their desire to receive email from you.

If others share your email system (employees and assistants, for instance) then these notices will also let you know when someone in your company might be sending messages that perhaps they shouldn't.

"Ensure your ISP/hosting provider has set-up REVERSE DNS on your outbound mail server's IP address."

While you may or may not be aware of your host's REVERSE DNS registries, AOL offers tools on their site that will test your system to let you know if your outgoing email server can be looked up in this manner. Additionally, sites such as http://www.dnsstuff.com/ offer plenty of such tools for reviewing and testing your domain.

While having a valid DNS entry doesn't guarantee your email will be delivered, not having one will certainly cause you delivery problems, and not just with AOL.

"Get your own IP address for sending out your mail. Do not share an IP address with an ISP/hosting provider's 10,000 other customers (some of which may be bad)."

This tip addresses one of the biggest problems that small businesses face when it comes to sending email. In short, if you do not have your own static IP address, then a spammer who is using the same host or ISP as you will cause you a great deal of trouble.

Contact your Web site host or ISP to verify whether your IP address for outgoing email is shared by others, and if so, then ask about what options you have for securing your own IP address.

No procedure will guarantee delivery of your email if you're actually sending spam. However, carefully reviewing AOL's "Postmaster" Web site http://postmaster.aol.com and taking appropriate steps to disassociate yourself from spammers will go a long way toward smoothing your AOL delivery issues.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale