Are Your Subscribers Receiving Your Newsletter?

October 28, 2008 by  Filed under: other 

In my e-mail one day, I received the following message:

“Hello, I am a subscriber to your ezine and received the

attached e-mail. Please advise if this is actually from

your website. Thank you.”

The attachment was from my mailing list program. It was

informing my dear subscriber that since her mail kept

bouncing, “I`m not going to try again; this message has

been in the queue too long.”

1. The Problem

Why was my newsletter bouncing? My mailing list

program reports receiving this message: “…The

information presently available to AOL indicates this

server is transmitting unsolicited e-mail to AOL. Based on

AOL`s Unsolicited Bulk E-mail policy at AOL cannot accept

further e-mail transactions from this server. Please have

your ISP/ASP or server admin call AOL at 1-888-212-5537,

or visit for more


Basically, I was being accused of sending unsolicited

commercial e-mail. This was a double opt-in subscriber.

I don`t do spam!

America Online, Inc. (AOL) had blocked my subscriber

from receiving the e-zine she requested. About fifteen

percent of my subscribers use an AOL e-mail address.

Not only am I adversely affected, but my AOL subscribers

are not getting their e-mails.

In contacting AOL sales and technical support, I found

myself against a brick wall. Although, I was repeatedly

offered a free trial to their service, they were unable

to help me regain my subscriber.

“Why don`t you contact your subscriber and have them

whitelist your e-mail address?” How? All I have

is her AOL e-mail address and everything I send to her

fails. Believe me, I`ve tried. (You could use

another e-mail address, I suppose, to trick AOL, but

why should you have to?)

Of course, they absolutely refused to remove the block

against me. (If you would like to learn more about AOL,

try the search terms “AOL” and “AOL sucks” in a major

search engine.)

By the way, it isn`t just AOL that is doing this. Some

other major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are doing

the same thing. As well, some popular e-mail software

programs also filter out wanted e-mails.

2. Some Solutions

If your subscribers are not receiving your newsletter,

here are some things you can do to alleviate the problem.

1. Warn your subscribers. On your newsletter signup

page, explain why they might not receive your e-zine.

Explain about e-mail filters; ask them to whitelist your

domain, not only to bypass the ISP spam filters but also

to allow mail through any e-mail software they may have.

2. Try to avoid using words that trigger spam filters.

Personally, I don`t like this one; it smacks of violating

my right to free speech, freedom of the press, et cetera.

(Yes, I know. With rights come responsibilities. However,

I am acting responsibly!) As a practical matter, though,

it`s something you have to consider. (I had my newsletter

checked by a popular spam checker and it passed with flying


3. Send a text e-mail informing your subscribers that

the current issue of your newsletter is available

online at your website. (It could also be a good move

to have an archive of past issues there, too, to boost

your content and search engine rankings).

4. Consider using alternative ways of communicating.

For example, you might try Really Simple Syndication (RSS).

Oh, by the way, my replies (with read receipt requested)

to my dear subscriber`s e-mail address appear to never have

made it. To her I say: “If you`re out there somewhere,

please re-subscribe. You might want to think about using a

different e-mail address, though.”

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