High-Volume Email Marketing to GI Domains
Those new to high-volume email marketing tend to get their start by mailing to GI domains or General Internet addresses.
What Does “General Internet” Stand for?
Or, “What’s “GI”?”
GI is short for General Internet. It’s got nothing to do with “gastro-intestinal” nor “government issue” anything. It’s a catch-all term intended to categorize all the domains that ARE NOT the biggies (a.k.a TLDs, Top Level Domains) like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or cable domains like Cox or Comcast.
Avoiding Spam traps is a challenge for every mailer. GI data, however, is more fraught with mailing danger.
People get their start in bulk mail by mailing to GI simply because… there’s just more of it. GI data is plentiful. However, because it’s more readily available and easy to set-up (with private domains and servers), there’s more opportunity to get tangled-up in an SBL while sending.
GI data tends to be riddled with honey pots: sneaky seed accounts that seek to catch you committing email sin.
The Bulk Mailing Landscape is an Odd One.
On the one hand, there’s just the regular hustle-bustle of the marketplace –people selling stuff to people who want stuff. And at the exact same time, there’s the big, scary malicious part of the mailing world where the gullible and the under fire-walled get victimized. These people get their hardware hijacked and hopes dashed, as their laptops get recruited into bot-nets. And, that money they wired to cover the small “fees and taxes” associated with that surprise lottery windfall, never materializes.
Affiliate Campaigns Exist in a Grey Area
Even well-organized, law abiding, email affiliates face an up-hill battle in this landscape, especially when mailing in large volumes and most especially when mailing to GI data. Because 1.) bulk mail is associated with dirty scoundrels and 2.) because affiliate marketing campaigns tend to target the large, homogeneous demographics of yore. Those with sub-prime credit, seeking so called “Pay Day” loans, signing-up for diet pills or purchasing As Seen on TV kitsch, get treated with the same ISP filter hate as “all-natural male-enhancement” snake oil and Nigerian Prince, life-changing-money-bank-transfer scams.
Tossing the Snuggie-Baby Out with the Spammy Bath Water
Anti-Spam organizations exist to hunt-down and stop scammy, bad apples. These organizations are supposed to provide valuable intel and guidance to over-worked email server administrators who combat the daily deluge of unwanted, commercial email. Unfortunately, what they also do is block above-board email marketers. Mailers who don’t stay absolutely ON TOP of their email game, in terms of keeping their IPs in good working order and their data scrubbed, can get their IPs fried, their domains blocked and publicly shamed to boot.
And yet, despite the inherent risk of mailing serious volume to GI data, its still mailed to. Frequently.
HOW? You ask.
The Nitty-Gritty of GI mailing.
GI data requires a different style of mailing than mailing to “the majors” (like AOL, Gmail etc) simply because you’re sending mail out to a bunch of different and privately owned mail servers, you are not subject to the rate limiting and rules of just one target (like Gmail or Yahoo for example). Because of this, GI mail needs to be deployed super fast, before you land on a blacklist.
The Main Issue with GI
Yes, there is the upside, in that there’s TONS of GI data, but the downside is that GI poses greater risk in the form of what-is-supposed-to-be-just-for-Spam traps. In essence, the GI mailing ecosystem is so complex that the only way to mail to it is be decidedly UN-complex. Send it fast and hard before the in-box knows what hit it.
How to Mail to GI Successfully
Keep the Hot side, Hot and the Cold Side, Cold.
First off, make sure you at least segment GI data from TLD data. As an email marketer you should be segmenting as much as possible. You can debate the pros and cons of various levels of segmentation but, when you’re sending over a million messages a day, isolating TLD data from GI data is not optional.
Segmentation is your Friend.
Segment as much as your budget and sanity will allow. The most ideal set-up would provide a server for each segment. Most people won’t go for this but it’s helpful to realize how useful separating out all the component parts can be. Assign a server to each file and mail type. So for GI you’d have three servers, one for clickers, openers and non-openers. And then you’d do the same for cables and TLDs. And then you’d segment within those segments. And on and on it goes.
Make Sure your GI Domains are ACTUALLY GI Domains
This one can creep-up on you if you don’t profile the MX records of your GI domains. It’s not uncommon for a domain to have an MX record forwarded to an ISP. That turns your “GI” domain into a TLD/cable domain which is a different animal in terms of deliverability. Make sure you’re mailing to true GI, privately owned domains, not forwards.
You will need a powerful server. Your standard, VPS or cloud server isn’t quite going to cut it. The unique nature of mailing to GI domains requires a pretty fast server to handle all the SPF, RDNS and DKIM requests that will be bombarding it. In general a fast SSD is ideal but, an Intel Quad core with 8GB of Ram is fine.
Keep it Clean
You have to be a list cleaning fanatic. There are many email list hygiene and validation services out there. Use them! Each service has its own strengths. Over time you’ll figure out the best combination and timing for list cleaning.
Swallow your pride. If you get a new list, do not freak-out if 50 percent or more of your data gets scrubbed-out by a list cleaning service. Better to take the hit up-front than let a dirty list burn down your IPs and sending reputation from the get go.
IPs! The life blood of high-volume email marketing.
Typically when you think “GI mailing” you also think “pump and dump.” That’s where you acquire a block of IPs only to turn around and destroy them in one mailing. And then, you do that all over again and again and again.
Ten years ago, “churn and burn” was workable strategy. It’s much less so now. Some people still do it but, if you’re not already one of those people, I really can’t encourage you to go that direction.
Today you must develop a strategy, which typically involves a well-designed, automated rule set for your MTA. Just like when mailing to TLDs and cables, you need to keep your mailing lists squeaky clean, your creatives on point and your mailing method carefully managed.
A /24 is the largest block you would ever want to get for mailing to GI. Most GI mailers prefer much smaller blocks, like nothing larger than a /27.
Keep Your IPs and MTA Servers Separated
Tunnel your IPs from the IP servers to your MTA server. This way, if your IPs get blacklisted, you won’t have to spend precious time to redo your MTA server set-up.
Don’t Know what TLS stands for? Learn about it!
Transport Layer Security (TLS), is a protocol that encrypts and delivers mail securely, helps prevent eavesdropping and spoofing (message forgery) between mail servers. TLS is rapidly being adopted as the standard for secure email. You need to set-up TLS sending for all ISPs that accept TLS, Gmail in particular.
So there you have it. General Internet data is superabundant and waiting to be mailed to. It’s challenging but, you can do it. You just have to be very deliberate and disciplined as you tackle GI deliverability.
Ready to getting mailing with VoloMP? Great! Still confused and filled with questions? Great! Talk to us.