Category Archives: Email Delivery Tracking

Outlook: Email Delivery Tips

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Outlook LogoOutlook is the oldest webmail service provider in the world. It originally started off as Hotmail back on July 4th, 1996, and has since evolved into a web-based suit of webmail, tasks, calendaring services and contacts from Microsoft.  Available in 106 languages and with over 400 million users, Outlook is a preferred email service provider for people from all around the world because of its easy integration with multiple apps and services offered by Microsoft.

The platform follows Microsoft’s Metro design-language and features unlimited storage, contacts management, integrated calendar, Ajax, as well as close integration with Office Online, Skype and OneDrive.  It’s one of the most popular of the free service emails available on the market today.

FeedBack Loop

With the help of FeedBack Loops (FBLs), volume senders can identify campaigns in their traffic that are receiving high numbers of complaint from Outlook users. The Outlook team can detect an abuse of their services with FBL, allowing them to immediately initiate any necessary actions needed. Click here for more information on Outlook’s Feedback Loop.  Scroll to the JMRP section (Junk Mail Reporting Program), and click the link to sign up and start receiving feedback within as little as 72 hours.

 Whitelist

Whitelists are lists of IP addresses that are expected to send your users legitimate mails. Adding an IP address to your whitelist will categorize the sender as “not spam” ensuring that most of their emails will show up directly in the user’s inbox and not the trash or spam folders. You can find out more about whitelists and blocking features for email recipients by Outlook here,  Outlook does not currently have a whitelist for senders.

Postmaster Tool

Outlook’s Postmaster Tool site gives senders information about getting your messages to the right place. The postmaster site is https://mail.live.com/mail/postmaster.aspx, which includes helpful troubleshooting tips at https://mail.live.com/mail/troubleshooting.aspx

SNDS

Microsoft provides sender reputation information with their SNDS program (Smart Network Data Service).  This applies only to IP addresses so in order to get the data you will need to be using a dedicated IP in order to take advantage of this.  The data provided will show reputation, sending volume, complaint rates, spam trap hits, and more.  This is a fantastic tool for any sender.  You can sign up for a free SNDS account at https://postmaster.live.com/snds/.

With Mail Monitor’s Performance and Enterprise plans you will also be able to track SNDS data each day to easily analyze.  Another advantage of tracking this data through Mail Monitor is that we will track your data over time so that you can easily track trends.  This is very helpful when troubleshooting delivery issues.

Outlook Delivery Tips

Here are 4 tips to help you stay clear for Outlook:

  • Always confirm that your email list was acquired using opt-in method. It is imperative to have explicit permissions from the users to avoid them marking you as spam.
  • Make sure your emails come with a clear “unsubscribe” section.  Hiding them or keeping it vague will not help you retain any readers – in fact, it will increase the chances of you being marked spam and even reported.
  • Shortened URLs are usually associated with spam by most of the leading webmail service providers, so avoid using them in your email.  Try and keep the URL description as relevant to the subject of your email as possible.
  • Continuously check the sending IP against blacklists.  This needs to be a regular exercise to maintain healthy IPs.

Blacklists: How You End Up On Them & How You Get Off Them

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Email blacklists are real-time , automated databases that use specific criteria in determining if an IP is sending spam emails. Blacklists are also known as DNS-based Blackhole Lists.

There are a number of blacklists in the industry, including SpamCop, Spamhaus, SURBL and Barracuda Reputation Block List.  The criteria each blacklist company uses for accepting inbound mail varies based on their own company determined standards. However, all of them can have a long-term damaging effect on your delivery rate.

 

How Do Blacklists Work?

At a high-level, anyone who sends an excessive amount of emails that are marked as spam, will be added to a list of offenders (a.k.a. blacklisted email senders) and will no longer be able to have their emails delivered to user’s inboxes.

For a more detailed understanding of how blacklists work, take a look at the Spamhaus diagram below. In the event an incoming email fails to meet the Spamhaus’ criteria for legitimate emails, the sender’s IP gets added to the list. There are some ISPs that use this data to make their conclusions on filtering the email messages sent on various IPs.

While Spamhaus doesn’t have any control over the delivery or placement of the messages, it does aide many ISPs in making their decision as to whether or not to deliver your message to your target user’s inbox or to send it directly to their spam folder.

Courtesy: www.Spamhaus.org

Courtesy: www.Spamhaus.org

 

How to Find Out If You’ve Been Blacklisted

Most of the email service providers send out some level of warning when your IP has been added to a blacklist. However, for a more robust audit, you can manually visit the top DNSBL lists periodically to ensure you haven’t been flagged somewhere along the way:

  • Spamhaus – This is one of the top blacklisting companies providing thorough, real-time spam protection for internet networks around the world.
  • Barracuda Reputation Block List (BRBL) – This is a free DNSBL of IP addresses notorious for sending out spam emails.
  • SURBL – This is a second-tier filter which works with Spamhaus in identifying some of the most difficult unsolicited messages.
  • SpamCop – SpamCop Blocking Lists (SCBLs) manage and share IP addresses that contained emails reported as spam by the SpamCop users.

The good news here is that as a Mail Monitor customer, you’re receiving the most robust audit of your domain and IP for any blacklisting automatically. You can learn more about our features here.

 

How to Get Off Email Blacklisting

One of the main reasons for IPs to end up on a blacklist is the high rate of spam complaints from users.  Should you discover that you’re on a list, you’ll want to contact the company immediately.  All of these DNSBL websites listed above have detailed instructions on how to be removed from the blacklist. Being proactive always helps – so show the ISPs that you are trying your best to remedy your delivery challenges.

Once you’re out of the blacklist, you might want to invest more time in the best practices for email list acquisition and staying away from buying email lists.

With deliverability experts like Mail Monitor on your side, you will have professional help navigating the ISP landscape.

An Introductory Guide to Spam Traps

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WHAT IS A SPAM TRAP?

Spam traps are used by blacklist and inbox providers to detect and catch malicious email senders. It is common for legitimate senders to find themselves becoming a victim of spam traps unclean email data, inappropriate subject lines and poor practices for email list acquisition.

Spam traps will look like an authentic email address – the catch is that they don’t belong to any real person and are not used for any communication by the company or inbox provider. The sole purpose of spam trap email addresses is to identify spammers and faulty senders and remove them from the ability to reach their user base with unwanted information.

 

IMPORTANCE FOR EMAIL MARKETERS

As an email marketer, you might already be sending emails to spam traps without knowing it is happening. Having even a single spam trap in your mailing list could mean hazardous dents to your ability to reach your subscribers.

Sending emails to spam traps typically indicates that you’re indulged in bad practices to collect email addresses or haven’t managed to keep your list clean.  Either effort could land you on the wrong side of email providers, greatly impacting you ability to continue to send and reach your target users.

 

TYPES OF SPAM TRAPS

To get an understanding of how spam traps end up in your mailing list, it’s important to understand the different types that are out there:

  • Pristine Traps – These are email addresses published on public websites that are hidden to a normal user. Only people using bad collection processes will find and send to these addresses. So if you collected your email addresses by scrapping from web pages, chances are you may have picked up by a pristine spam trap.
  • Recycled Traps – These email addresses were once used by real people, but became abandoned and got converted into a trap by their inbox provider.

 

IDENTIFYING A SPAM TRAP

It is extremely hard to spot a spam trap email address because they don’t look different from any regular email addresses. However, there are many useful tools designed to help you evaluate the sender’s reputation and identify any emails that may be sending emails to spam traps. One such tool is the Microsoft Smart Data Network Service (SNDS).

 

GET THIS FIXED

Spam traps are structured to identify senders with irresponsible list building behaviors. One sure fire way of getting this fixed is to have a thorough audit of your own email list quality, and then evaluate it on a consistent basis.

Since spam traps do not belong to real people and provide no level of engagement with your emails such as clicks and/or opens. Getting rid of inactive subscribers would help you get rid of such spam traps as well. One quick way to garner engagement of active users and identify inactive users or potential spam emails is to run a campaign reconfirming user interests.

However, this is just one part of the entire picture – the most important part is reevaluating your strategies of email list acquisition to ensure only genuine, healthy email addresses are in your marketing plans. Use double opt in procedures, validate incoming addresses, and do not buy or rent lists.  You also may want to perform a list cleaning process to get rid of these spam traps.

List Cleaning Services 101

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Email marketing can be a walk on a minefield if you come unprepared. Thresholds for bounced emails, unsubscribe requests and spam complaints are set by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), corporate email protection services and anti-spam groups. If your email campaign has a high rate of any of these metrics, then there will be a good chance of harming your sending reputation and getting your emails sent to the bulk folder or blocked altogether. The pickle is that a lot of account suspensions actually happen due to the stale or old email addresses in your list, that are never used by the owner, and not by any violations on your part.

Below we will tell you about List Cleaning services, what they can do for you and when to use them.

What is List Cleaning?

List Cleaning is a third-party service that scans your email lists to identify and filter out invalid addresses. It is also commonly known as List Cleansing or Email Verification. While a lot of companies offer List Cleaning, not a lot of them come with reliable accuracy.

It is also worth noting here that most of the List Cleaning services will not remove the invalid addresses on their own; instead they will detect the addresses not likely to be successfully delivered, and rely on you to remove them from the list yourself.

 

When Should I Clean My List?

There is no black and white answer to this, as some email delivery services like MailChimp advocate not relying entirely on List Cleaning in a majority of cases. However, if you are faced with the challenge of bad email delivery, then you should always choose a reliable third-party service like BriteVerify. They claim to offer a reduction of bounce rate by 98%.

What cleaning a list will surely do is help you get rid of all those stale addresses. However, you should never expect List Cleansing services to be a one-stop solution to all your worries, as it is not going to help you with issues like spam traps, blacklists or abuse complaints.

List Cleaning can be very effective if you already have a record or subscriber permissions and you are following the best practices for email list acquisition.

Region Specific Seed Lists Added to Deliverability Tracking

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Different marketers often need to look at different sets of deliverability data depending on the client location and list ISP distribution. Up until now, each Mail Monitor report would display every ISP available for tracking. This is not always ideal and many of you have requested more control over your reports.

We’re happy to announce that each Mail Monitor account now comes with the ability to specify the region or regions to be tracked. To choose regions, simply check or uncheck checkboxes next the the regions on the setup page. Here is a peek at the changes to the setup page:

Region Specific Seed Lists

Region Specific Seed Lists

When adjusting regions, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • When adding regions, make sure to download the seed list again and add it to the outgoing distribution list
  • Campaign reports are updated for a 72 hour period after first received. If removing regions, reports sent within the last 72 hours can be inacurate for the removed regions.

SNDS Tracking and Automation

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Microsoft provides a fantastic amount of data through their SNDS program (Smart Network Data Services) that can help marketers responsibly monitor their sending reputation to Hotmail / Outlook.com email addresses. That should include just about everyone sending email. The data is free and any sender that uses a dedicated IP can sign up at:

https://postmaster.live.com/snds/

Performance and Enterprise Mail Monitor accounts now include the ability to automate and collect that data for review. All that is required is to have an SNDS account set up that is already tracking IP data. The Reputation tab of qualified Mail Monitor accounts walk you through the rest. This is a great tool for troubleshooting and monitoring delivery to Outlook.com and Hotmail.

Hotmail / Outlook.com supports IMAP….FINALLY

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Just recently Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) began supporting IMAP.

http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-outlook/archive/2013/09/12/outlook-com-now-with-imap.aspx

What is IMAP and what does this mean for Mail Monitor accounts?

IMAP allows applications to connect and read email from any folder inside an email account. The other method of connection is POP3 which only allows access to the inbox of email accounts. When Microsoft only allowed POP3 access this meant that Mail Monitor only had visibility into the inbox for delivery reporting. That was fine if your email was delivered to the inbox but if your email was delivered to the Spam/Bulk folder it showed up as missing which was often confusing. Missing at Outlook.com could mean blocked completely or delivered to the spam folder. Those are very different things.

Now that IMAP is supported we can see right into the bulk/spam folder and report on delivery more accurately to Hotmail and Outlook.com accounts. Well done Microsoft…finally!