<![CDATA[MaxBulk Mailer - Blog]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 17:30:30 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Sending beautiful e-mails with MaxBulk Mailer]]>Tue, 13 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMThttp://maxbulkmailer.com/blog/sending-beautiful-e-mails-with-maxbulk-mailerWelcome to the world of emailing. When launching Maxbulk Mailer you have seen that all you get is a blank document created automatically for you by the application, the place where your message is supposed to be composed. I guess that at this very early stage you may feel a bit lost or overcome, especially when it comes to filling up that blank document and creating an e-mail marketing message for the very fist time.

In this short tutorial I will try to explain, in layman terms, how to pass this stage successfully and how to send beautiful e-mails, like the one below, with MaxBulk Mailer.

What kind of message can I send with MaxBulk Mailer?

With MaxBulk Mailer, you can actually send the same kind of messages you already receive from your favorite online shops and services. You can indeed deliver beautiful flyers or send really ugly stuff, you are the designer, you are in charge, MaxBulk Mailer doesn't care, it will sent it anyway!

MaxBulk Mailer is primarilly a bulk e-mailer, its goal is to deliver your message to your subscribers as fast and efficiently as possible. Here 'efficiently' means that MaxBulk Mailer will do everything to place your message on every recipient inbox folder, with all tags (if any) properly processed, all headers properly set and all tracking code properly inserted (if click-through tracking is activated). It will also try to handle errors, recover from connection issues and finish the delivery in a timely maner avoiding overloading the mail server.

What is the best message format?

Depending on the type of message you are composing you have the choice between several formats Plain Text, Styled Text, Text/HTML, HTML only and Web Page. 'Plain Text' is the basic format, what you see is what you get, text with no formatting. With the 'Styled Text' format you can apply styles, font, color, size, bold and so on. The message will be converted into HTML during the message delivery. The other formats are also HTML based. HTML is the language that web designers use to create web pages. The 'Text/HTML' has a plain text version of the message, 'HTML Only' is exclusivelly made of HTML and the 'Web Page' format allows you to send a page by writing its URL.

Designing an HTML message

Even though you can write text messages and even apply styles, MaxBulk Mailer is not really a design tool. Indeed, to create a good-looking HTML message, it is highly recommended to use a web editor software, especially a WYSIWYG HTML Editor (There are many available for both MS Windows and macOS). With such tool you can graphically design your message without (almost) knowing anything about HTML coding.

The workflow you may follow is something like this:

1.- Upload the pictures used by the message to your web server with a FTP Client.
2.- Design the message using absolute links for all pictures and built-in CSS.

Once you are satisfied with your design:

3.- Copy the HTML code from the HTML editor.
4.- Paste it to the MaxBulk Mailer message field.
5.- Set the format to 'HTML Only'.
6.- Click on the 'Preview' tab. You should see how your message looks like.

Pictures are missing? Well, as stated in point #1, you need to upload the pictures to your web site and update links. Remember, you will send a message thru the internet to people that will use a mail reader application to read it. They only receive the HTML code. Pictures will be fetched by the mail software. This will work only if the picture URLs are full absolute URLs. In the message we have taken as an example for this tutorial, every picture is referenced as located in the 'pictures' folder, on the computer hard drive. That works locally but nobody except you has access to that folder so you have to move it to your server and update links. We have used the HTML Editor search/replace function to substitute this: "pictures/ with this: "http://www.maxprog.com/mailout/pictures/ That's all.

The message formatting is different? Check whether the CSS code is not missing in your HTML code. CSS code is what defines styles in your message. If the CSS code is missing your message will looks like a ugly unformatted plain text message. The ugliest thing you have ever seen.

So, there are only two important things you have to take care about before transfering your code to MaxBulk Mailer, you should maintain the CSS code inside the HTML code and upload all the pictures to your web server and use absolute links. If you do that you will be fine.

What about compatibility? Designing a template VS using a free template

It may be a pain to make a given HTML message work properly everywhere. It mainly depends on the code complexity but remember that e-mail reader applications are not web browsers, many things are not supported like Javascript, Flash animations or image maps, just to name a few. Web Mail systems, even though working inside a web browser may also give compatibility problems, especially CSS conflicts. It requires some testing until you can guarantee a message is fully compatible and safe to be sent. I believe the best approach is to design a template then spend as much time as needed to thoroughly test it with Apple Mail, Entourage, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. If you see differences try to adjust your code and test again. Once your message displays properly in Apple Mail, Entourage, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo then you have a good template you will be able to use again and again for quite a long time, just changing the text.

On the other hand, if you don't have time or the skills to go thru this process, you can just download and use a free template as we did to write this tutorial. There are lots of them on the Internet. Look for example at http://freemailtemplates.com, it is a web that offers free templates. They say on that page that the templates have been tested with Outlook, Apple Mail, Windows Live Mail, Yahoo! Mail, GMail, Thunderbird, Hotmail and Lotus Notes. This is a great time saving!

There are actually lots of sites that offer free templates, this is a small list:

- http://www.emailtemplates.org
- http://themeforest.net/category/marketing/email-templates
- http://niceemails.com
- http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates

or you can even search Google.

Enjoy!
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<![CDATA[Using MaxBulk Mailer Global Blacklist]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMThttp://maxbulkmailer.com/blog/using-maxbulk-mailer-global-blacklistMaxBulk Mailer already allows you to unsubscribe people from a list but what happens if a recipient is subscribed to more than one list and he explicitly asked not to receive anything else from you?

Well, you have the choice between processing each list separately and unsubscribe the recipient from each of them or use the Global Blacklist feature. In fact, the Global Blacklist prevents you from sending messages to given addresses whichever the list you have selected. In other words, you just need to add the address once to the blacklist to get it automatically blocked everywhere else! Furthermore you can even block a whole domain or a name independently from its domain!

As unsubscribed addresses, blacklisted recipients are automatically discarded by MaxBulk Mailer when sending messages.

Blacklisting an email address is very simple. Let's see...

Blacklisting al capone

Select your list and highlight the address(es) you wish to blacklist. Then either right-click your mouse and select the "Add to Blacklist" menu or select the 'Recipients -> Add to Blacklist' menu from the top menu. A confirmation window will be displayed, if you click on the 'Ok' button, the selected address(es) will be blacklisted.

al capone has been blacklisted

Blacklisted addresses appear striked out with a different icon so you can easily tell them apart. In addition the whole entry appears in gray, unchecked and the card icon with a green check mark has been replaced with a card icon with a prohibition sign. Al Capone will never receive any more message from us!

Let's check the Blacklist

The Blacklist is accessible from the List manager pull-down menu like any other list. Just select it. Here is Al Capone!

Since the Blacklist is similar to the other lists you can add more addresses to it by using the '+' button, by dropping text with addresses or by importing files. To remove addresses from the Blacklist you just have to select them, click on the delete button '-' and then on the 'Save' button. Yes, it is the same as with any other list. As a result It is really easy to maintain a blacklist. Of course you also can remove blacklisted addresses from any list by using the 'Recipients > Remove from Blacklist' menu.

Just remember that:

- Blacklisted addresses will never receive your messages whichever the list they are on.
- You can blacklist an address selecting it and using the 'Add to blacklist' menu.
- The blacklist is like any list you can select and open from the list manager pull-down menu.
- Everything that works with a regular list will also work for the Blacklist.
- You can remove blacklisted entries using the 'Recipients > Remove from Blacklist' menu.

Blacklisting a domain or a name - Using wildcards

The blacklist is a great feature but what if you want to blacklist all the addresses from a given domain or all the addresses with a given name? Actually, it is really easy to mass blacklist addresses based on the name or the domain part. Indeed, you can perfectly add '@mydomain.com' or 'postmaster@' to the blacklist. The former will blacklist absolutely all the addresses belonging to the 'mydomain.com' domain and the latter all the 'postmaster' addresses from any domain.

Wildcards '*' are also accepted. For example 'peter@*' or 'peter@*.*' (actually equivalent to 'peter@') are valid. You can use wildcards in all the email address parts, name, domain and extention. This is a sample list of accepted formats:

*@hotmail.com -> Blacklist all addresses from hotmail (same as '@hotmail.com')

.com -> Blacklist all addresses with the 'com' extention
*.com -> Save as above
@*.com -> Save as above
*@*.com -> Save as above

@runshare -> Blacklist all addresses from the 'runshare' domain
*@runshare -> Save as above
*@runshare* -> Save as above
@runshare* -> Save as above
@runshare. -> Save as above
*@runshare. -> Save as above
@runshare.* -> Save as above
*@runshare.* -> Save as above
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<![CDATA[How to make your email's look more personal]]>Wed, 04 Feb 2015 05:00:00 GMThttp://maxbulkmailer.com/blog/how-to-make-your-emails-look-more-personalI want to show you a cool trick today that will help you make your email messages more friendly. Actually the idea is simple, every single recipient on your list should believe your message is a message addressed personally to him, not a bulk message, a common problem I see with people using MaxBulk Mailer where their emails look like they come from some kind of automated system. You have to change your mind, think you are talking to one person only. Your message has to look like it is coming from a real person (you), not a robot and is addressed to one only recipient. How? Using the recipient data you have in your list, its name, company, gender or whatever you have. Yes, all you need to do is simply to modify your message depending on the recipient, that's all. There are several ways:

- By using tags, tags are pieces of text that represent a list column. [Firstname] and [Company] are tags you can use in your message.

- By using Tags with Alternative Text, same as before but like [Firstname|Friend], an alternative text is provided in case the data is missing.

- By using Conditional Statements, a kind of 'programming code' that lets you modify the message depending on a tag value, [Gender] for example.

Tags and conditional statements work with all formats, not only with plain text messages but also with styled text and HTML messages. In this tutorial we will use styled text and plain text to keep things simple.

I decided to write this because one of our MaxBulk Mailer user added our company email address to its list and send us a message that tricked me... I though it was for me and I replied... :-/

Tag with an Alternative Text

We love that feature a lot because it is really clever, handy and user friendly. Remember, Tags are pieces of text you can add to your message from the recipient list. Every single list column has its tag with the same name, you can rename if you wish. For example we have the [Firstname] tag that will insert the recipient first name into the message. As said above a tag is useless when the data is missing, in that case, no first name! If your message begins with for example 'Dear [Firstname]' you would end with 'Dear'. We actually fixed that issue by adding the possibility to add some alternative text directly into the tag. In the example above we could use [Firstname|Friend]. 'Friend' will be used if 'Firstname' is empty. That's simple! No need to use complex conditional statements, just the tag including '|' and the alternative text right after.

Conditional Statements

MaxBulk Mailer also offers the possibility to add conditional statements to your message. It is a bit more complex but much more powerful. A conditional statement is a set of instructions that you can use to modify your message contents depending on the recipient data. With conditional statements you can go a step further and insert text depending on tag/column data. For example you might need to add a 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' prefix depending on the recipient gender, use a generic string in your greeting when you don't have the name of a given recipient or add a piece of information only if it is available in the recipient list (by using a tag).

This is what the example above does. The conditional statement used is:

<IF [[Gender]] = "M" <AND> [[Surname]] <> "">Dear Mr. [Surname],?<ELSEIF [[Gender]] = "F" <AND> [[Surname]] <> "">Dear Mrs. [Surname],?<ELSE>Dear Friend,</IF>

To insert a conditional statement, use the button on the right of the tag pull-down menu, choose the tag to be used in the condition from the tag pull-down menu, the operator, the value to compare the tag with and the result (the text you want to be used if the condition is verified).

Note that the Gender column is actually the Opt1 column that has been renamed.

There are actually lots of cases where conditional statements can help you achieve your message with great effectiveness. You can send formal or informal text depending on the recipient age, send custom attachments:

<IF [[Gender]] = "F">{File:"cat.jpg"}?<ELSE>{File:"ostrich.jpg"}</IF>

, change the signature, insert billing information...
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<![CDATA[Using your own SMTP server, advantages and drawbacks]]>Tue, 14 Oct 2014 04:00:00 GMThttp://maxbulkmailer.com/blog/using-your-own-smtp-server-advantages-and-drawbacksWhen sending e-mail you have the choice between using your ISP, your web host or your own dedicated SMTP server (An SMTP server is a mailserver that you use to send email. It stores your messages and ensures that your messages are either delivered or returned to you with a failure message). 

Your ISP usually will provide an SMTP mail server but most ISPs will not want you to send bulk email through their mailservers. Many have restrictions on the number of messages you can send per hour. 

Your web host should provide you with a dedicated SMTP server. Particularly if you are a business and you have a legitimate need to communicate with your customers, then your web host should provide SMTP server service as well. They may also have sending limitations, but they are likely much less restricted than an ISP mailserver. 

Your own dedicated SMTP server is also an option. You will need to make sure that your IP address is not on any listings of dialup or dynamically allocated IP addresses (Residential IP) and make sure the IP address you are using is registered to a domain name preferably with an MX record. 

Note that MaxBulk Mailer has no SMTP server built-in because nowadays it no longer works well with most big ISPs. Some of them like AOL will bounce your messages as soon as they detect they have been sent from a residential IP, an IP that belongs to a range of IPs for DSL/Dialup connections, including static IPs, or that IP has no reverse DNS (PTR) or no domain assigned to it. Following our tests, using your own SMTP server or an application with a built-in server will cause between 20 and 30% additional bounces. The question is, can you accept that up to 30% of your customers will never get your messages? 

In addition some ISPs like Hotmail and MSN are also using Greylisting. In short, greylisting is a method where a piece of email being relayed by a mailservers is initially deferred. This means that it is not accepted upon the first attempt, rather, the sending mailserver is told to relay it again at a later time. With standard mailserver configurations, such as those generally maintained by your ISP and free email service provider, the email will be re-sent at a later time, usually anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Bulk mailing software with built-in server however generally don't operate like standard mailservers, and usually won't relay their email again at a later time. 

MaxBulk Mailer key advantage is that it fully respects and follows the SMTP protocol. MaxBulk Mailer is a conventional email client using the standard email delivery system. As a result the delivery bounce rate is extremely low.
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