As an email service provider (ESP) our most important job is ensuring you a reliable service with great deliverability. To do this we need to make sure that everyone sending emails through the system is doing so with permission from people on the receiving end.
The approval process is how we check in to make sure everyone is sticking to best practice, and also catch the people trying to abuse our service who can create problems for us all.
Important: A first-time approval for new accounts can take anywhere from a few hours (if all is well) to a few days (if we need need to work with you to make some changes) to be processed. Please be aware that notification to start an approval is not given until the email campaign is created and recipients selected.
How the approval process works
Our team will review your email collection methods to make sure they comply with our anti-spam policy and permission guidelines. We also look at campaign content to ensure subscribers are getting what they opted in for, and can easily opt out if they no longer want the emails.
Typically the only time you'd go through this process is when you'd like to send a campaign to more people than you've already been approved for. When that happens a notification is displayed at the top of the campaign snapshot page, as shown here:
Email campaigns that trigger an approval cannot be sent until our compliance team have completed the review process. If successful, your send limit is increased to the next approval tier and you should not expect another approval notice for some time.
Note: There are other situations in which you might need to go through an extra approval process, such as an abnormally high bounce or complaint rate, but the procedure is much the same and our team will help you through it.
Turnaround time for approvals
We have compliance team members around the world dedicated to handling approvals so we can get them done fast. The longest it will ever take us to get to a campaign after it's been submitted for approval is 12 hours — usually much less! From there, the review process is often completed within a few hours if you've provided all the information we need.
Below are some tips for getting your campaign approval seen to quickly:
Tip 1. Prepare for approvals early
Approvals don't come around that often but they can pop up unexpectedly if you don't notice that your, or your client's, campaign sizes are nearing the approved send limit.
To avoid any surprises it's worthwhile preparing for approvals early, especially if you send time-sensitive campaigns like event promotions or sales announcements. See our checklist for starting the approval process for information on what to prepare.
Tip 2. Start the approval process without delay
We say this because, as soon as you submit a response for approval, that's when your campaign is added to our 'approvals pending' queue where it can be actioned by the next available team member.
However, you should only hurry to submit a response if you are adequately prepared. We have to be thorough with every approval. If you haven't given us enough information to work with, the first thing we'll do is reply to your first response with more questions, pushing you further down the queue.
Tip 3. Make final campaign changes later
It's safe to start the approval process even if your campaign is not quite ready to send. A successful approval will not automatically send the campaign, so you can make final changes after we've notified you of approval.
Note: We do need to see final draft content for the review process so your campaign should be as close to what you intend to send as possible.
How to start the approval process
When the number of recipients selected for a campaign exceeds your current approved send limit, a notification will be displayed above the campaign snapshot. That's the page displayed immediately after you've set up an email campaign and selected a subscriber list, or lists, to send it to.
Clicking Start the approval process will load a form page that looks like this:
Checklist for starting the approval process
This section is to help you get your campaign approval completed with as few interactions as possible. The turnaround time can be really fast if you have all bases covered before starting the approval.
Conditions of use
A single-click unsubscribe link that instantly removes the subscriber from your list.
The name and physical address of the sender.
You must also comply with all applicable legal requirements (for example, POPI & ECTA) for the country you're sending from and countries you're sending to.
Proof of permission
To start the approval process you need to submit a permission explanation. Use the following checklist to make sure your response covers everything we need to know:
Read our permission guidelines and make sure your mailing list meets those guidelines.
List all the different ways you've collected email addresses. For example, did some come from in-store sign ups, and some on your website?
Provide either written or digital proof of permission, for example: URLs for online subscribe forms, scanned copies of offline signups, copies of confirmed opt-in by personal email correspondence.
Be descriptive and specific about the actions subscribers took to opt in. Telling us, "They signed up at trade shows and in our store" is good, but it's not enough. We need to know exactly how or why they signed up at those places.
For offline signups, explain in detail how people actually joined. For example, did they verbally agree to be added to your list at a conference, or sign a form during a business meeting?
If your recipients are paying customers, tell us how long ago they were customers, and how often you've emailed them since they purchased from you.
Proof of permission is integral to the approval process but campaign content is equally important. That's because, even if your entire mailing list is confirmed opt-in you can still receive spam complaints from subscribers. If that happens, we have to deal with the repercussions, which is why we need to see your content.
We'll get back to you after the initial review if any campaign changes are required. Your best bet for reducing the time it could take to make changes is to be aware of the campaign do's and don'ts
Include a permission reminder that clearly explains to the recipient how or why they're receiving your emails.
Clearly identify who you are. The "From" name and email address should accurately identify the person or business sending the email, and your subject line should make it clear to subscribers what you're sending to them.
Send information about third party products or services instead of your products or services. A line in the small print saying, “I’ll occasionally email you stuff from affiliates” tells us you’re at least trying to be honest about it but the fact is no one reads the fine print and it will not stop people clicking the “spam” button.
Make your unsubscribe link difficult to find or use, for example a multi-step unsubscribe process or asking people to enter their email address to unsubscribe.
Send content that resembles spam, such as subject lines full of "FREE! WIN! SALE!" or image-heavy campaigns with very little text content.
Load your campaign with features about sporting goods and equipment, for example, when your signup page promoted homewares and kitchen appliances.
Content and sender details aside, you can also annoy people by sending content more frequently than you said you would, or so infrequently that recipients can't remember who you are.
Note: Successfully passing the approval process will not automatically send your campaign. So it's safe to start an approval even if you're not quite ready to send.
Why we do approvals
We can't ensure that all contacts added to subscriber lists have stated their consent to be emailed. The repercussions of sending to lists where permission is unclear, or non-existent can include: blacklistings, spam complaints and lowered email deliverability.
This doesn't just affect your ability to deliver to the inbox, it damages our sender reputation and relationships with ISPs.
We understand the approval process can be frustrating if you're not prepared for it, but it's safe to say you would not want us to overlook another customer's mailing list which could be non-compliant. Another customer's mistake could result in your email campaigns bouncing due to our sending IPs getting blacklisted.
Why do I need approval for subscriber lists I've been sending to for ages?
Approvals are triggered when the number of recipients selected for a campaign exceeds the current send limit you are approved for.
So there are two reasons why you may need to do an approval for a list you've already been sending to:
Note: When we do an approval that includes recipients you're already sending to, we review subscriber activity so we can advise you on the current health of your list.
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