Not in the Address Book? Here’s Why You Should Be

aol_shield.pngQuick post today about why getting your subscribers to add you to their address book is not just a good idea, but absolutely essential.

So I was doing some testing with a few webmail addresses of mine. And I sent a message to my AOL testing address.

When I got the message in my inbox and opened it, this is what I saw:

Click To See Full Size

What’s That About?

The address that I sent the test from wasn’t in my AOL address book. And the message I sent included images.

So instead of showing me (as the subscriber) the message, AOL gives me this ominous warning.

How many of your subscribers would click “YES” if they saw that?

I’m a fairly calm person, and I knew the message was coming, but even so, my first instinct when I saw it was to click “NO.”

Compare with what happens when the sender is in my address book:

Click To See Full Size

Much, much better.

Why Would They Do This?

All ISPs want to protect their users from spam, scams and phishing attacks.

So when AOL got this message, they saw that:

  • It wasn’t from someone in my address book
  • It included some content – images – that they flagged as potentially malicious.

And they took steps to protect me.

Bottom line: AOL will warn your readers whenever you send them a message with images or attachments…

Unless You’re In Their Address Book!

How Can I Avoid Freaking Out My Readers Like That?

Make sure your subscribers recognize your email address, and that their email program does too. On your thank-you page, tell them what email address you’re sending from, and have them add that address to their contact list/address book.

You’ve heard this before, I know, but hopefully AOL’s example underscores why you need to make sure subscribers add you to their address books.

See How People Can Add You To Their Address Books

Knowledge Base: How Do I Whitelist My Address?
Blog: Guide to Personal Email Filters


  1. dolores

    5/15/2007 9:51 am

    i don’t understand this at all?

  2. Jerry Wipf

    5/15/2007 10:52 am

    Excellent Points guys.

    We love that ISP’s filter the way they do because we all hate Spam, but then when they filter out our important e-mails we get frustrated. It’s a catch 22. You help solve the frustration problems with this simple but so very important little bitty tip.

    Thanks for the reminder. I am going to update my web-pages immediately.

    All my best

  3. Chris

    5/15/2007 3:31 pm

    > We love that ISP’s filter the way they do

    No, "we" don’t. I don’t like my ISP trying to be my daddy.

  4. Gary

    5/15/2007 6:31 pm

    I think its an important note to make that you must give recipients a reason to add you to their address book. Dont just put “Add our email address to your address book so you dont miss our emails” Something like “Make sure you dont miss our free top tips on how to expand your business by 137%, add to your address book now” should get a better response.

  5. Andrew

    5/15/2007 7:55 pm

    Another reason to block AOL domains!

  6. Keith

    5/15/2007 10:53 pm

    Good point Gary,

    Perceived added value and specific savings, avoidance of pain, etc. will keep them coming back.

  7. Justin Premick

    5/16/2007 8:40 am


    Well said. Emphasize the benefit/s to the subscriber and you’ll get more of them to add you to their address book (or take any other action).

    Reminds me of a good post I saw a while back on Return Customer:

  8. 27amDotCom

    5/16/2007 10:57 am

    What I started doing is splitting up the opt-in incentive into multiple items (the high value, high content ebook becomes 2-3 booklets or an ecourse… or I add on an audio, a list of recommended resources, etc).

    Then I aim to explain (though there is definitely a lot of room to clean this up) that today’s spam filters block a lot of content … blah blah … therefore add _____ email address to your contacts list or address book now. By doing so, you’ll receive (and I re-iterate some of the other bonuses they will receive on day 2 and 3, etc). By not doing so, you likely will not receive any of these items and related bonuses in the future.

    That is a terrible explanation but, in short, I sell them on the opt-in and then explain that what they opted in is delivered over a period of several days (easier for them to digest it this way too!) and then ask for the "add" so that they receive all this valuable content.

  9. Kathy Riley

    5/18/2007 12:01 am

    Thank yo for the details of how to correct redirected emails. can we copy/paste these explanatios for customers who ask how for their particular situations?

  10. Justin Premick

    5/18/2007 8:13 am


    Yes, by all means feel free to use the whitelisting instructions.

    If you want to use the images from the blog & Knowledge Base items I linked to above, please host them on your own site rather than hotlinking them from AWeber. Thanks!

  11. Robert

    3/16/2008 5:04 am


    I’m an AWeber customer. I really think the Whitelisting instructions should be on the default AWeber "Thank You" page.


  12. Robert

    3/16/2008 5:12 am

    I forgot to add this note. Isn’t there a "window of vulnerability" for Double Opt-In lists like all of mine are? If they don’t whitelist you before the confirmation E-mail gets sent out, then the confirmation E-mail may end up in their spam folder. If so, then perhaps a good feature would be to have a "pre-page" that shows the whitelisting instructions. The "pre-page" would be shown after they submit their E-mail address with a button and a message telling them to click on the button AFTER they have whitelisted their E-mail address. Clicking on the button on the "pre-page" then triggers the sending of the confirmation E-mail.

    I would like to see this as a default option in AWeber, with the ability to override the "pre-page" destination URL just like you can with the Thank You page.


  13. Justin Premick

    3/17/2008 8:23 am

    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for suggesting that for the default "Thank You" page.

    With whitelisting, your subscribers need to add your specific email address to their address books, and everyone using AWeber has a different email address. The default Thank You page is a static page designed to be appropriate for anyone to use, and adding someone’s email address to it would make it less appropriate/usable for everyone else.

    Really, the default "Thank You" page is there as a starting point – we strongly recommend that you replace it with your own custom page that:

    * keeps new subscribers on your site
    * lets you speak to them in your own words

    As for the "pre-page" you refer to setting up, you could create such a page on your site (inserting your specific email address into the examples) and link to it from near your signup form. That way, you’re not forcing someone to submit a form twice to sign up.

  14. How to Get Subscribers To Whitelist You

    2/9/2010 10:06 am

    […] subscriber has the opportunity to whitelist you within their own inbox. This can prevent confusing messages and keep inboxes from filtering you […]