editorassistance Newsletter

Editor Assistance

October 1 2010 Editor Assistance Newsletter

Greetings, editors!

This message is a wee bit technical so I'll try to explain it with examples! Feel free to write me if you're still confused at the end! :)

Every year or so I try to find a good solution to handle our newsletter bouncebacks automatically for us.

Bouncebacks are those messages we get after we send out a newsletter, the messages that say "email address XXXX does not exist". This typically happens because a user cancels their email account they use. For example they stop using AOL and start using GMail. When the user makes this change, they sometimes forget to change their email subscription in our system to have the new address. My research finds that this happens most often with infrequently sent newsletters, probably because the users forget about them when they're doing their email changeover. Since we only know about their old address - in this example the AOL address - we keep trying to send their newsletter there and we get errors.

I kept hoping that MailEnable, our mail software package, would do an upgrade and handle these bouncebacks for us :) So far they have not fulfilled my dreams for me. So finally I hunkered down with the door closed and my anti-stress rock nearby and just plowed madly at the problem.

I was able to code up a solution! It's a little kludgy but it works :)

What I do is this. I check incoming mail for phrases that indicate the mail is a bounceback. You can see the 5 phrases I currently check for by going to your admin menu and choosing "unsubscribe a member" from the center area. All of these phrases indicate the email address is definitely invalid.

When I find a message with one of those phrases, I search the rest of the message for the email address of the subscriber. Then I unsubscribe them from our system!

I have been testing these phrases all night and they seem to be working smoothly. I only want to add in a few phrases at a time to make sure we do this as flawlessly as possible.

My goal is to get us to a point where most unsubscribes are handled in a fully automatic way! There will always be one or two that sneak through, just like spam messages sometimes sneak through, but this should make all of our lives much easier going forward!

So, to summarize, you do not have to do ANYTHING for this change. What this change means is that you will have fewer "bouncebacks" coming to you after each newsletter send. The system will handle some bouncebacks for you automatically. As the days roll forward I will gently add one or two phrases a day until I catch the majority of them.

Let me know if you are confused by what I'm explaining here, or if you have any other questions!

Lisa Shea, owner


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