Delivery thoughts

I have spent quite a bit of time over the last few days working with new clients who are asking a lot of basic, but insightful questions about delivery problems. I have been trying to come up with a model of how spam filtering works, to help them visualize the issue and understand how the different choices they make change, either for better or worse, their delivery.
One model that I have been using is the bucket model. Spamfilters are like buckets. Everything a sender does that looks like what spammers do adds water to the bucket. Reputation is a hole in the bottom of the bucket that lets some of the water flow out. When the bucket overflows, delivery is impacted.
I think this analogy helps explain why fixing any technical issues is so important. The less water that is added to the bucket by technical problems, the less likely it is that the water from content filters will overflow the bucket.


  1. Maarten Oelering says

    It is indeed striking what you need to make up, in order to make deliverability understandable for the average marketeer. For an upcoming presentation I came up with the analogy of the security check at the airport. In Amsterdam we have a system that allows you to bypass the queues before customs, using a special ID card and an iris scan. By passing some reputation checks, and providing full accountability, you get certain privileges. However, you still need to behave, or you will be stopped anyhow.

  2. J.D. says

    That’s a good analogy…did it help them understand?

  3. Maarten Oelering says

    I will only know after the presentation, which is due in three weeks from now.

  4. When the script doesn’t work at Word to the Wise says

    […] changes to the email to see if that resolves the issue. Most of these kinds of blocks are “bucket” blocks and tweaking things can often keep the bucket from overflowing. Senders have quite a […]

  5. How Spamfilters Work at Word to the Wise says

    […] is the concept I try to convey by using my bucket metaphor. « Confirmed […]

  6. How reputation and content interact at Word to the Wise says

    […] on the second send? It appears that on that send they had a link or other content that “filled the bucket.” Generally, their IP reputation is high enough that content isn’t sufficient to send […]


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