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AOL changes bounce behaviour

A couple other bloggers have commented on the recent AOL blog post talking about changes to the MAILER-DAEMON string on bounce messages.

With the changes for inbound mail, ALL bounce messages (mostly due to user-defined spam settings) will have the sender name of MAILER-DAEMON@recipient –domain. For example, a member of yahoo sending to an AIM account with a user-defined block, would receive a bounce message from MAILER-DAEMON@aim.com.

There’s an interesting little tidbit buried in that paragraph that has nothing to do with the subject of the post, but is a useful bit of data for mailers who want to better model their recipients. “All bounce messages (mostly due to user-defined spam settings)…”
This means that senders who are on the ball and can distinguish between bounces and rejections can use the bounce information to get a general idea how many recipients are actively blocking their mail. Given the exact phrasing of the postmaster blog, there are most likely other reasons for bounces from AOL, but there may be some useful data in there for the mailer that can pull out bounces and compare them with other data about a particular recipient.
Things I’d look at:

  • How many emails did the user receive before blocking?
  • Are there any trends in blocking? Is there a spike in the number of addresses blocking? If yes, was there anything I changed before that?
  • How many FBL reports, if any, did I get before a block was put up?
  • Did anyone unsubscribe and then block?
  • Did any users click through or purchase and then block my mail?

The answers may provide some insight into how AOL recipients are reacting to your mail immediately before they block you. This may provide some guidance on how to make your mailings more relevant to your recipient base.

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