Problems With Hotmail as a Free Email Marketing Tool

Problems With HotmailHotmail was a popular free web-based e-mail service that was originally re-branded as MSN Hotmail after it was first acquired by Microsoft. A second name-change followed when the company launched its Windows Live products and distinguished the email service as Windows Live Hotmail. Due to different hiccups over the years, Outlook replaced the old legacy of Hotmail by offering users better security and technological features that are not easily exploited by hackers. With unlimited free storage, connections to different social networking websites and advanced spam filtering, Outlook was quickly accepted as an alternative to the ageing Hotmail and internet marketers picked up on the advantages immediately. Soon courses such as Stay On Top Of Your Inbox: Learn Efficient Email Management popped up and the rebirth of the email system attracted the masses.

So what exactly went wrong with Hotmail that prompted Microsoft to do a full overhaul of the service and even distance itself from its flawed legacy with a different name? For internet marketers and general users, this is a not a one-answer-question and the reasons follow in the paragraphs below.

Security Issues

From as early as 1999 after it was acquired by Microsoft in 1997, Hotmail sent panic into the hearts of users when it was revealed that hackers could simply access their account by using “eh” as the password. This type of flaw does not exist in the 21st century because users are unable to move forward while creating their accounts with such a short password. Updates to the system ensured that a minimum number of characters where entered and that security questions are used to add an additional firewall to account access. Had the information from a course like Staying Safe From Hackers existed back then, it is highly likely that certain precautionary steps would be factored into the design and development phases of the email service.

For internet marketers the damage of such a flaw is indescribable. Those that have spent long nights and hours developing a reputable email list would watch their efforts blow up in smoke once the account is accessed. There is also the stigma associated with bad reputation if a hacker decides to use the accounts to send offensive content or content that is unrelated to the industry associated with the email account.

In the 20th century, the industry of internet marketing was not well-established and so authors such as Paul Herbig who published the book Internet: The Marketing Challenge of the Twentieth Century merely scratched the surface about the endless possibilities that existed. Marketing companies at the time were basically clueless about the connection between marketing and the Internet and so only after the turn of the 20th century with the success of content marketing did the advantages of the Internet become more apparent.

Soon after the first issue was fixed, Microsoft was brought back into the spotlight in 2000 when another security flaw was identified. This time cookies were intercepted by hackers who sent an unsuspecting Hotmail user a HTML file. This interception allowed the hacker to get access to the account based on the stored information that exists with the cookies. Problems regarding the Y2K bug caused Hotmail users to see a creation date of 2099 for any email they created before November 1999.

Further on in 2000 another security hole surfaced. This time a URL named after the account which the hacker intends to enter is created and a valid message number used. These steps allow the wrong account holder to gain access to the account and eventually steal valuable information for wrong purposes. Delay in providing a patch caused backlash from users and numerous accounts were eventually compromised in the process. In the same year when the Sir Cam Worm (a computer worm that propagated itself through email sent from a Microsoft system) was on the loose, outdated virus definition files left many Hotmail users susceptible to the attack if they opened infected emails. The result is private information being sent to people.

Other security issues caused many users to drift from Hotmail and consider alternative email services to avoid countless breaks that hackers and people were revealing in the system. As internet marketing began to warm up, many internet marketers were realising that their business hung by a string with the flaws in the service. It would seem that with the complicated programming vernacular being used to describe the problems, that average non-programmers would need to learn the Fundamentals of Programming to keep up with the information and frequent updates to improve security.

Short Message Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Server Limit

Different strategies are used by Internet marketers to reach their intended clients with a particular product. Mass emailing is one such tactic is which a marketer sends an email to a list of contacts. Hotmail, like most free email services limit the number that can be sent from any one account on a particular day. People who are engaged in extensive email marketing will immediately discover that this service smothers the potential of reaching many clients and closing sales that could turn profitable.

The settings which are part of the Hotmail SMTP configuration makes it difficult to get the same results as professional outbound server services that offer unlimited possibilities when sending multiple messages to different people. The introduction of a subscription service that allows the user to pay and increase the number of recipients opened up a sign of hope in the internet marketing world. However, while the settings of the server address is relatively easy to configure as shown in this blog article titled 3 SMTP Test Methods for Trouble Shooting, paying a subscription fee to be allowed to send to a marginally higher number of recipient does not have much cost-benefit in the picture- especially for an internet marketer.

DNS Servers Not Responding

Frequent outages in the DNS servers caused Hotmail users to not be able to access their account as well as any other e-mail service linked to Microsoft. When they enter the URL, they are simply shown a message that the server does not exist. Coupled with this is the slow response time to display the message.

The setback with this is that the user is unable to respond to emails or send important messages until the issue is resolved. In industries where time is money, the losses can be considerable if competitors are able to close the sale for a product ahead of the stalled account.

Loss of Branding Power

Apart from the technical hangups that would send users and Microsoft pulling out their hairs, there is also the business side that the email provider cannot guarantee. Free email accounts are usually associated with spammers and as such different people have taken measures to block these accounts. As a result, they never receive emails from a particular provider and the efforts of sending them a pitch is essentially wasted time. In email marketing, the importance of knowing How to Build an Email List of Customers and other related courses is essential if a marketing campaign is to survive. However, building an extensive list to then send it from an Hotmail account defeats the entire purpose of reaching potential clients if the provider is blocked. For some industries it is better to send emails from a domain name other than free email services to preserve the brand and reputation the company wants to uphold.

Conversation Thread

The absence of a conversation thread in the older version of Hotmail made it difficult to exercise proper email management and stay on top of messages that are related. Users would have to search or try to remember the names associated with a particular messages or any other relevant keyword to find information. When different email marketing campaigns are being done from the same account this makes it difficult to track which clients are responding to what unless they include the relevant subject in the subject line. Anything else outside of this will leave the sender in an embarrassing or confusing position to try to associate the reply with the campaign. Outlook now has up-to-date features that encourages better email management with the help of different features to make this possible.

Spam Bots

The ease of identifying Hotmail email accounts and any other free email service makes them a target for spam bots, which as the name suggests are designed to send spam. These bots are essentially computer programs which act like a trojan horse that steals information and sends to individuals interested in using it for usually illegal purposes. The malware which can also break into CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) send out spam messages by using the Hotmail email address of the ‘sender’. When this happens hackers can send viruses and other information from the sender’s email address thus making it difficult to trace who originally sent the spam. They use different techniques to trick people into handing their personal information online to eventually get hold of sensitive information.

When it comes to spam bots, some bots only need a few seconds to crack into an email account and amass different contact details. If spam is coming from a Hotmail account that was initially used for email marketing, the reputation damage can be catastrophic.

Login Error

Creating a password that is 16 characters long for Hotmail allows the user to access webmail but not an email client. For passwords that are longer than 16 characters the system automatically limits the entry. The problem arises when logging into an email client. While the client will accept passwords beyond 16 characters, the same does not apply for Hotmail. This is not an issue with webmail because even if the user enters more than 16 characters the system will only accept the limit. For email marketing the setback is that people are often forced to use a particular service because of the password limitations associated with Hotmail.

With the different updates and advances in programming, former Hotmail users can take advantage of the Ajax programming techniques associated with Outlook. Email marketing campaigns will never be the same again with the management features that Microsoft Outlook allows users to enjoy. With the Learning Microsoft 2013 course it is now possible to establish better campaigns and not experience the disappointments associated with Outlook’s predecessor.