Update November 22, 2019

Updated the logged in banner for increased clarity.  We have updated the logged in banner at admin.foundationtennis.com to provide a more clear advisory.  

If you are seeing the logged in advisory, this article is for you, please read on.

Every Foundation Tennis system needs to meet the new Feedback Loop verification standards.  You will receive this message if your email DNS has not been upgraded to the compliance level.  

Outbound email from the system cannot be guaranteed until your domain email is compliant.  This applies to email confirmations for web site registration, event enrollment, tennis court reservation confirmations, online payment confirmations and receipts as well as any 'contact us' inquiries.  Additionally the outbound Group Email marketing system will be disabled.

Update November 20, 2019:

After performing many of these upgrades in recent weeks, I can share the results (great) and the three most common questions we receive:

  • Q: Why do I have to do this?  
    A: These are new requirements imposed by the email inbox providers that your customers use (AOL, Comcast, Google, Hotmail, MSN, Verizon etc). In their fight against spam and identity forgery, they are requiring higher levels of domain verification.

  • Q: What happens if I don't?  
    A: Your email will not be delivered to your members/players. We do not have any say in this. Your domain and our service will be negatively impacted, so we will have to shut down your access to the group email system and any modukes that send confirmation emails from your email address (event enrollments, court reservations, online oayments, and inquiry / contact us forms)

  • Q: Why do I have to pay for this?  
    A: Compliance to new requirements requires 2-4 hours of work on your domain DNS. Foundation Tennis pays to upgrade all of our services and our domains. Each customer is responsible for the security and authentication of their domain

  • Results:  The results have been great, and that is what we expect.  In several instances we have gone on to do more work with customers to help you update your Contact Manager information.  In other cases we have helped customers migrate to new domain mail services, such as those offered by Amazon Web Services, Google G-Suite, and Microsoft Office 365 (they all work well with Foundation Tennis).  Overall this update has increased awareness of the email communications subject in general - which is a good thing

    Another result has been an increase in the migration to the branded app, which allows you to send push notifications, which are like text messages but not subject to FCC (or spam) regulations.

I hope this helps - Charlie Ruddy

General note: 

Email delivery is a function of many factors, including your domain reputation, which is mostly determined by your customer engagement score.  Engagement scores are maintained by email forwarders and hosts based on open rate, click through rate and reply rate.

Diagnosing the problem:

In the event many of your customers are:

  • not receiving your outbound email through Foundation Tennis (whether from group email campaigns or simple transaction confirmations such as event enrollments, court reservaitons, online payments, or basic contact us / inquiries)
  • receiving your email in the bulk or junk mail folder,
  • or you notice that there are very few "open's" in your Group Email Activity reporting

Fixing the problem:

Your domain DNS and/or email hosting settings need to be upgraded.

You can do this work yourself if you manage your own DNS.  Foundation Tennis Professional Services can help or do this for you if needed.  Note that these requirements are are new (Fall 2019) and are imposed by AOL, Comcast, Verizon, Yahoo, others.

These are the steps:

  1. establish a DKIM, DMARC, and SPF record in your domain DNS
    1. test at a site such as https://mxtoolbox.com
  2. establish a 'postmaster' @ your domain address, forwarding to provideremails@foundationtennis.cc 
    1. (note the .cc - not .com)
  3. Complete the 4 major Feedback Loops (these are the services used by almost ever mail forwarder)
    1. Comcast https://postmaster.comcast.net/feedback-loop.html
    2. Google https://postmaster.google.com/u/0/managedomains
    3. Yahoo (covers AOL and Verizon) https://postmaster.yahoo.com/best-practices
    4. ReturnPath (covers 20 major ESP's) https://fbl.returnpath.net/
  4. Test / validate your work with a service like https://mxtoolbox.com/
  5. Wait 24-48 hours for the changes to take effect
  6. Re-test

If you need help, you can hire us: If the steps outlined above are not familiar to you, hire us to help you.  We can perform steps A through F above in 2 hours of professional services.  Unless we are already hosting or managing your email plan, we will need you to perform step B  (setting up the postmaster email address)

Click here to order our services for steps A-F

NOTE:  The technical steps that we can take internally are limited to ensuring your domain is technically compliant.  We have a very high success rate helping return your domain reputation to reliable email delivery.  However we cannot guarantee that we can improve your domain reputation solely via technical configuration.   

All work helping you improve your domain reputation and email delivery is billed at hourly rates.  While we can perform some tasks for a fixed fee based on the average time we know it takes to complete certain tasks, there is no guarantee of delivery improvement.  A number of factors work together and results will improve over time.  We can help you do the right things faster, but we do not control the time frames.

Please speak with your account manager about how we can help you develop and implement best practices for your organization.

Finer points for outbound group email marketing:

Make sure your email does not contain any 'spammy' content.  You can Google 'spammy email content' for tips and practices to avoid. 

At a minimum we suggest:

  1. Your 'from' email address should be identifiable and relevant such as yourname@yourdomain.com or department@yourdomain.com

    (note: the use of your free personal email address in the 'from' field will all but ensure a spam trigger, which is the reason it is not allowed in Foundation tennis)

  2. Do not use all caps in your subject line, and avoid spam trigger words (Free, trial, Act now, Last chance, Special offer) - check Google for more information and examples

  3. Do not send empty emails.  Your email message body should not be blank.  

  4. Do not send image-only emails.  All email content is scanned by spam filters for spammy content  Image-only emails cannot be, so they are assumed to be spam.  While suggestions on the percent to total of image and text vary, we find that your email should be deliverable if the point of the communication can be understood by reading the text of the message.  Do not rely solely on the image to communicate your message.

  5. Rotate your subject line.  If you have a monthly newsletter, include the name of the month and year in the subject line to distinguish this email from previous emails

  6. Do not use consecutive exclamation marks in your subject line.

  7. Do not upload purchased lists.  They are full of spam traps and there are many other ways to grow your tennis business in your community.

  8. Manage your Contact Manager database.  Honor previously marked opt-out's and do not re-upload email addresses from external systems.