1. Other email service providers (ESPs) don’t check the third party data I upload for quality, in the way that dotMailer does – why is this?
Many ESPs state in their terms that you are not permitted to upload or send to purchased lists, rented lists or indeed any third party lists whatsoever. If you do so you will be in breach of their terms and they may put a stop on your campaigns at any time – not a position we would recommend any marketer to put themselves in.
At dotMailer we take a more flexible and client-focused approach to this issue because we know that for many businesses, particularly in the B2B sector, sending to these types of lists is a requirement.
We don’t ‘blanket block’ third party lists and we don’t ‘criminalise’ you for wanting to do it. However, we do require any third party data you upload to be quality data – to protect all involved, including you
We developed the highly sophisticated Data Watchdog tool to enable dotMailer users to send to third party sourced lists, at the same time as protecting the sender reputation and delivery rates of all our clients.
2. Who does your Data Watchdog protect?
Firstly it protects the sender who is uploading the data. By assessing and blocking problematic data, we are protecting you from complaints and potential ISP black listings, and guarding your all-important delivery rates.
In turn the Watchdog also protects you from being affected by other dotMailer users sending to potentially problematic data. So it’s designed specifically to protect ALL of our clients and potential recipients, from difficulties caused by ANY user sending to suspect data.
3. My data provider assures me the data I have purchased is fine, but the dotMailer watchdog is blocking it. Why would that be?
The Watchdog uses a complex algorithm and a large number of key criteria, tested over the course of more than 6 quadrillion
data checks, to identify low quality or suspected problem data.
We can’t reveal the criteria and algorithm we use in any detail as the Watchdog system is proprietary and we don’t want to help spammers by giving the game away, but they include:
- Known hard bounces
- Non-existent domains
The system weights different criteria with different scores and matches your data against a huge database of emails we have already seen and analysed before.
A score of a certain level indicates a strong likelihood that the file contains data that is old and has not been cleaned. Old, uncleaned data will ring alarm bells with the ISPs and that’s why we block it.
4. Are the ‘hard bounces’ you identify, known hard bounces or speculative?
The Watchdog doesn’t identify hard bouncing email addresses on the basis of assumptions or speculation. Hard bounces are identified by 5.X.Y error codes – they’re not ambiguous and we are 100% confident that these are genuine hard bounces.
5. Why does the watchdog quarantine an entire list, and not just remove the suspect records?
We are not able to ‘clean’ your lists for you. If we were to do this by removing the ‘bad’ records from a list and letting the rest of the file pass, then illegal spammers could potentially take advantage of this service.
The practice is known as ‘list washing’ and for obvious reasons the ISPs and spam filtering organisations take a very dim view of it, so we don’t go there.
6. Can you send me a ‘faults file’ when a list is quarantined by your Watchdog, showing either the reason why the list has been blocked, and/or the records that have failed?
For the same reasons as the ones that apply to FAQ number 5, we can’t do this.
7. How does the Data Watchdog fit in with what the ISPs are doing to reduce spam?
ISPs such as Hotmail and Yahoo face a massive issue when it comes to spam. In a typical day they receive around 12 billion email attempts, of which up to 95% could be spam!
To combat this they use filtering technologies to identify and block spam. Lists sent to by legitimate senders that share characteristics with a spammer’s list can get caught up in these filters, penalised, blocked and even black listed.
Our Watchdog alerts you to these potential problems, before you get into difficulties with ISPs by sending to poor data.
8. I am trying to target individuals in government/education, but due to the nature of the target market, my data provider supplies a high percentage of ‘admin@’ email addresses. Will the Watchdog pass these lists?
In the data import wizard in dotMailer, you are asked to identify the target audience of the list, at which point you can identify your target market as government/education.
However, you need to remember that if your data provider is selling you ‘admin@’ email addresses then the chances of these being opted in and responsive are likely to be very slim.
9. You have blocked a third party list supplied by my data provider. What do I need to be asking my data provider?
Ask them about their data hygiene processes, when the list in question was last cleaned and how. Ask them how permissions were collected and when. Ask them how permissions for ‘admin@’ addresses were collected. It’s always worth asking how old the data is too. Our advice is that data older than 18 months can be highly unresponsive.
10. The Watchdog allowed my list through, but one of the contacts I sent to went on to generate a spam complaint
The dotMailer data Watchdog is not a data verification tool, and should not be relied on as one. It's the responsibility of all dotMailer users and their data providers to ensure the data they are sending to is not problematic.
The Watchdog will block as suspicious, any data it has previously seen and red-flagged, and it will block where possible data that exhibits known characteristics of suspicious data. As such it is intended to help protect our reputation and yours. It is not intended to provide a substitute for the sender ensuring the quality and trust-worthiness of their lists.
11. What can I do if the third party lists I am using are rejected by dotMailer's Data Watchdog?
By far the most effective way to do email marketing is to use opted-in email addresses that your business has collected and nurtured itself.
If you have a third party list that has been blocked by dotMailer's Data Watchdog, there are organisations that can give you an independent assessment of the data, and offer list cleaning services. We can recommend either of these independent companies, and there are others too you can talk to: