Getting The Opt-In E-Mail Through

This week the big project is finding a solution to the e-mail marketing problem we have found.

For a number of years I/WE (there are others involved now) have been using a third party company for the delivery of company e-mails and auto-replied messages.

There is a significant difference however between these two systems. Company e-mails, i.e. periodical news e-mails are simply sent as and when the company decides. The newsletter is constructed and sent out on mass to a defined set of opt-in e-mail subscribers. The second system mentioned was an auto-reply service which is entirely different in that when a users signs up their e-mail address gets entered into an auto responder. An auto responder can be set to send an e-mail immediately (noting a thank you to the customer) with a further “set” of time delayed emails which have already been constructed.

Bulk E-Mailing

The problem we have found recently is that in using a third party company for our bulk e-mails means that we are completely reliant on their capacity of preventing spammers using their service. I have found that there has been an increase of e-mails returned which have been bounced by receiving e-mail servers due to this third party company having been black-listed as a spammer. This has presumably come about due to a user or two using their system to send out spam. Obviously this is not a great relationship for us to have for two reasons.

  1. We do not want to be related to spammers
  2. People actually do want company news, having signed up to receive it.

So I’ve made a decision to go in-house with one of our big mailing lists as this ensures we have zero relationships with blacklists and users will get the mail they wish, having opted-in for it.

Mail Headers

As domains are cheap as chips I have purchased a new domain (related in wording to the main company site) specifically for the purpose of being the originator of the weekly newsletter. This makes sense on many levels, not least that within the mail headers sent out, the domain will be listed as the mail sender and therefore will keep the news as a distinct department and away from the main company business.

I feel this makes a great deal of sense and can in fact been seen in use by tons of companies, for many different purposes, press domains, marketing domains,image domains, video domains etc, all essentially “branches” or extended arms of the company.

More soon.

Music Industry Sues Hundreds Of File Sharers At Colleges

Music Industry Sues Hundreds Of File Sharers At Colleges (washingtonpost.com): “In the year and a half since the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group of major music companies such as Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, began suing Internet song-swappers, more and more college students have moved off the Web to trade music on Internet2, a separate network used by universities and colleges for sharing research and other academic works. “

e-Learning Expansion

University of Ulster Online – News Release: “The University of Ulster today unveils three innovative postgraduate programmes in social research skills. Delivered by distance learning, they will be offered through the University’s Campus One from October 2005.

The part-time programmes have been developed by the School of Policy Studies and, according to Course Director Professor Sile O’Connor from the Magee campus, because they will be delivered through e-learning, the programmes will be particularly suited to people who need maximum flexibility in time and place of access to learning opportunities.”

Ignoring Robots

I’ve recently been playing around with a perl script which sits in the /cgi-bin/ of a site.

The idea is that the script is to catch robots that are not obeying the robots.txt files found in the domains root. The robot.txt is a useful file (if obeyed) in that search engines and content spiders read what is allowed to be viewed or not. If a particular folder or file is disallowed in the robots.txt then they robot should in fact ignore the said file. The problem being that as the internet is full of leachers and badly behaving robots just out to leach information, we needed some way of being able to stop that practice.

After some diving and seeking I found a perl script ready to go. The script is great in that if triggered, the script will add the robot to a ban list in the site’s .htaccess file thus banning the IP from the site completely.

The way I’ve implemented this is to have a hidden link of the form:

<a href=”getout.php” onmouseover=”window.status=’Burglar Alarm’; return true;” onclick=”return false;”>
<img src=”../images_folder/oddly_named_graphic.gif” alt border=”0″ WIDTH=”1″ HEIGHT=”1″></a></td>

This link is not evident to a human surfer but a spider would find the file getout.php and try to read it. Little does the spider know however that getout.php is re-directed to my perl script, thus snared!

Within a couple hours of implementing this across our clients sites the script had sent me an e-mail informing that it had banned the first robot.

A great way to keep your sites bandwidth down and your server running fast.

e-learning forum draws heavyweight support

e-learning forum draws heavyweight support | MELT: “Sally Ann Moore, MELT Director. MELT will take place at Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre on April 5-6, bringing together in the Middle East for the first time specialists, vendors and users of e-learning and knowledge management. “

Will staff embrace e-learning

News: “The march of high technology has brought with it a quick and convenient way of acquiring new skills on the job: e-learning. But it has yet to take off because it isn’t cheap. Research has found that smaller firms are unlikely to have enough surplus profit to plough into e-learning platforms or courseware”

e-Learning Centre: Designing e-learning

e-Learning Centre: Designing e-learning: “City & Guilds Sound Engineering Quality Assurance ‘A look at some of the quality assurance issues in running an online e-learning sound engineering course.’ Chris Hambly, Director, Audio Courses Added: 10 April 2005 Reviewer’s Note: This paper considers quality assurance issues relating to the City & Guilds 1820 Sound Engineering Part 3”

Filipino publishing firm moves to e-learning

Filipino publishing firm moves to e-learning – INQ7.net Leveraging on its accumulated content, the Diwa Asia Publishing Group Inc. decided this year to aggressively implement an e-learning strategy in a package combining an interactive student resource called “Genyo;” mobile school software; a teacher-training course on technology; Internet connectivity; and access to an online portal.

E-Learning Industry Growing As Powerful Tool For Smaller Businesses

ITSPA: Four-Billion-Dollar E-Learning Industry Growing As Powerful Tool For Smaller Businesses: “Electronic-learning, which is increasingly used as a productivity tool by small to medium-size businesses (SMBs), has become a $4 billion industry growing at 10-15 percent yearly, reported the Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance (ITSPA), a national, non-profit group that helps SMBs understand how technology and local technology providers can help them succeed. “