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STEVEN ROTHBERG: How To Deliver Effective Email Campaigns & Top Ten Rules for Emailing Students

Posted on January 4, 2007
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By Steven Rothberg, President & Founder,

NOTE: For help hiring college students for internships and seasonal positions and recent graduates for entry level career opportunities, feel free to contact Steven at or 800-835-4989 x704.”

Let’s talk about spam. It is a nuisance, and one thing you don’t want is to have your email messages dumped in a recipient’s junk mailbox. The recently enacted CAN-SPAM legislation created clear rules for commercial emails, including those which promote employment and educational offers or promote products and services. Nevertheless, just because an email can legally be sent does not mean that it will be received. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are free to block emails that they deem to be spam and how one ISP defines what is spam may and often will differ from the definition used by other ISPs. This confusing landscape becomes even more complicated when one considers that each major corporation and school is effectively its own ISP. With 23 million businesses in the United States and thousands of colleges and universities, it simply isn’t feasible for any organization to successfully deliver their commercial emails via every ISP, corporation, and school. So before we can even discuss what the message should be so that is well received by the student recipient, we must discuss how to get that message delivered to the student.

Commercial emails can be opt-in or opt-out.
Opt-in emails are those which were requested by the recipients. Internet users often opt-in to commercial mailings when they register at Web sites such as and are offered the opportunity to sign up for newsletters and other such mailings. Opt-out emails are sent to recipients who did not request the mailings in advance but who may choose to remove themselves from the list after they start to receive the mailings. As a result, opt-out emails are more often regarded as being unwanted spam than are opt-in emails. But regardless of how recipients define what emails are spam, ISPs have their own rules and will often block opt-in emails while allowing through opt-out emails. Also, because ISPs each have their own continuously changing rules, what gets delivered one day by one ISP may be blocked the next day by the same ISP or other ISPs. In short, delivering a targeted email campaign is both an art and a science and somewhat akin to trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

So how do you ensure that your commercial emails are delivered? There are two primary factors: working with the ISPs and being recipient friendly. To successfully work with ISPs one needs for them to recognize your mail as legitimate and opt-in. ISPs will deliver opt-in emails if they know in advance that your mailing is opt-in. With millions of corporations, schools, and other ISPs, it isn’t feasible to properly notify all of them in advance about your mailings, so the best practice is to work very closely with the consumer ISPs as there are far fewer of them and they service the vast majority of recipients. The ISPs want proof that the emails that they’re being asked to deliver are opt-in, which means that the list owner must keep meticulous records of when the recipient opted in to receive the mailings (date and time stamp), the computer that the recipient used (IP address), and, if possible, the page on which the recipient opted in and the offer to which they responded. List owners such as are able to provide such documentation to the ISPs and are therefore white listed so the ISPs will deliver their emails.

Yet even if the ISPs deliver a targeted email campaign, there is no assurance that the campaign will succeed. Two more factors come into play and both are driven by the message of the email. If the design of the email itself looks spammy, the recipient may never see it if they have an anti-spam filter installed on their computer. One way to help prevent this is by making your messages either all graphics, all text, but not a mixture of the two. If the message is text, it is important not to use words or phrases that are often included in spam emails. These include references which are often used to promote education, work-at-home, or get rich quick offers. In addition, the opt-out language required by the CAN-SPAM laws should be all graphics because the spam filters will look for that language. Because spam filters can’t read graphics, emails that use a graphic for the CAN-SPAM required opt-out language are far less likely to be deleted by anti-spam filters.

Emailing to teens and other young adults isn’t easy because they change email addresses frequently and their parents are concerned about who is emailing their children and for what purpose. By keeping your message straightforward and to the point, you stand a much better chance of impressing your target audience and winning their parents over as well.

To accomplish these goals, and Campus Media Group recommend that targeted emailers act in accordance with this list of 10 rules:

1. Be forthright – Getting to the point and doing so honestly scores points with this crowd and gets your foot in the door.

2. Be specific – Vagueness will get you nowhere. Tell them what they should do and how to do it.

3. Be respectful – Always give your email recipient the option to discontinue receiving your emails at any time.

4. Be trustworthy – Let them know that their privacy will not be compromised.

5. Be relevant – Tailor your messages to the interests of your recipients.

6. Be current – Keep up-to-date with changes in the interests and information of the recipients. Also, provide ways for them to change interests.

7. Be considerate – Don’t over communicate. Too much of a good thing is bad.

8. Be diligent – Quickly remove anyone who asks to unsubscribe and respond quickly to complaints.

9. Be observant – Pay attention to your reports to ensure that you aren’t losing more subscribers than you gain. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on your click through rate to help you determine where you are doing well and where you might need a little work.

10. Beware – Beware of strangers bearing lists! Permission is not transferable. In other words, if you are offered the opportunity to purchase an opt-in email list, understand that those recipients did not opt-in to receive your mailings so you will actually be purchasing an opt-out list. Subscribers prefer to receive email from lists they actually subscribed to and not opt-out lists.

Now that you know the rules of engagement, it’s time to start building a list of contacts that will generate quality students as prospective talent to meet your hiring needs.

NOTE: For help hiring college students for internships and seasonal positions and recent graduates for entry level career opportunities, feel free to contact Steven at or 800-835-4989 x704.”


4 Responses to “STEVEN ROTHBERG: How To Deliver Effective Email Campaigns & Top Ten Rules for Emailing Students”

  1. Blog on January 4th, 2007 10:20 pm

    Top 10 Rules for Emailing Students…

    Dave Mendoza of Six Degrees From Dave is at it again. Ripping off other people’s content. Stealing ideas. Posting nasty photos of them on his blog. Or did he have my permission to do all of that? Hmmm…….

  2. Steven Rothberg, on January 4th, 2007 10:22 pm

    Thanks for the plug, Dave. If your readers want more tips for the best practices for targeted email campaigns, have them download our free white paper at .

  3. Jeremy Langhans on January 5th, 2007 1:19 pm

    Definitions of spam on the Web:To indiscriminately send unsolicited, unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate messages, especially commercial advertising in mass quantities. Noun: electronic “junk mail”. unsolicited e-mail. The term spamming is also sometimes used by search engines to mean web sites that try to gain a higher listing by submitting hundreds of almost identical pages or by inserting hundreds of keywords within a web document.

  4. Steven Rothberg, on January 6th, 2007 1:01 pm


    I’m not sure from your comment if you are implying that we’re spamming the job seekers to which we deliver the targeted emails. We’re not. Our list is 100 percent double opt-in and we’re white listed by every major consumer ISP. To be white listed means that they recognize that you have permission to deliver emails to the recipients and that you are able to provide conclusive proof of that permission.