Newsletter techniques to avoid the spam tag

Before you start wondering if I’m responsible for spam I’ll assert that’s not the kind of email campaigning I can help you with.   Spammers obviously deserve a special place in hell.

The challenge in running a newsletter campaign is when you start to approach several thousand subscribers.  Subscribers that closed or moved their email addresses without un-subscribing will pollute your list’s quality and affect how well it’s received.   If your list has enough closed accounts your mail servers IP address may become blacklisted, this is because it’s perceived you’re a spammer if you don’t take measures to maintain your list.

The system delivering your newsletters needs to watch for bounce backs emails from the receiving mail servers.  An email address that bounces more than twice is suspended until purged permanently from the list.

Delivery of 30-40K messages a week has its own challenges.  Email servers don’t appreciate you trying to dump all your mail on to them all at once.  Too much too quickly and they may reject it in mass.

Another requirement is each message needs to clearly display footer links where you can update delivery preferences or drop the subscription completely.

The newsletter system I developed tackles all these challenges.   It combines user details from the subscriber lists with other sources of data.  Unique data such as personal product interests, music genres, or any other data source unique to the subscriber.

It can run any number of campaigns and retrieve this personalized data from any number of local or remote databases.  Campaigns can be scheduled for delivery at any interval, or sent on demand when needed.

Another nice feature is if you notice a problem with the outgoing messages it is easy to halt the delivery, this allows you to make corrections and resume sending the corrected version to the undelivered part of your list.

Reporting data is also collected on the campaigns.  With images enabled in the email client, a hit registers a read at the server, this happens via a tracking image that is unique to each message.  Link tracking happens by directing the user to your server first to record the hit, and then immediately redirecting the user to the expected destination.  This is exactly the same way Google records which links you click in its search results.

So relax, you only need to focus on your message content!

First Magento Impressions

A month since I first laid eyes on Magento 1.5.1 and I’ve written 3 modules.


Great shopping cart system , very complete

The first assignment was writing a module to sync Mangento newsletter subscriptions with Constant Contact.

The second module written sends out a thank you message to customers X several days after they placed their order.  The email template, managed through Magento, has full access to print the customer and order data.

The last task was a pricing report for wholesale vs retail pricing for selected product types. Basically a query to retrieve products by type, Magento models to get the needed product details, and then Zend_Pdf to write several pages of pricing to an Adobe PDF file.

Then I wrote a Magento controller to make this PDF price list available to chosen customer group.

So far I’m really impressed with Magento.  It’s solid, has all the features one could want. The ability to create dynamic products, change themes for the holidays for any other event, and run multiple stores under one installation.

I look forward to working with it more.